EUGENE, Ore. — The president of the University of Oregon said he will not change the name of the oldest building on campus, which honors the school’s founder. The name became controversial because of the founder’s pro-slavery views.
The school’s Black Student Task Force demanded in November 2015 that Deady Hall be renamed, reported The Register-Guard. The group said Black students “should not be subjugated to walk in any building named after people who have vehemently worked against (the) Black plight.”
UO President Michael Schill invited the group’s members to his house for dinner Monday to discuss his decision.
He announced the decision Wednesday, saying founder Matthew Deady was ethically a mixed bag. Deady died in 1893 and promoted slavery before the civil war. He also spoke up for Chinese immigrants.
“Certainly he is not somebody we would consider praiseworthy in all senses,” Schill said. “I do believe he had racist behavior. On the other hand, he did a lot of good things.”
Schill said he weighed all the factors and concluded that Deady’s legacy didn’t warrant renaming the building.
Black student leader Chris Holloway said he expects student organizations to issue a statement on the decision.
About 1 percent of UO’s faculty and 2 percent of its students are Black. Schill has promised that the school will hire an architect to design a $3 million Black cultural center and said alumnus Dave Petrone has already donated $250,000 to get the project started.
Schill has come to different conclusions about renaming buildings in the past. Last fall, the UO Board of Trustees acted on his recommendation to rename a campus dormitory. The dorm used to be named after professor Frederic Dunn, who was a leader in the Oregon Ku Klux Klan.