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Oregon to Retain Building's Name Despite Slavery Ties

January 26, 2017
 
 

The University of Oregon will not remove the name of its founder from the oldest building on the campus despite his historical ties to slavery, officials announced Wednesday. Black students at the university had included among a list of demands in fall 2015 the renaming of Deady Hall, which honors Matthew Deady, who helped found the university and held pro-slavery views. (The university last fall dropped the name of Frederic Dunn, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, from a dormitory.)

In a statement Wednesday, President Michael Schill sought to distinguish Deady's history from that of Dunn. He called Deady's historical accomplishments "exceptional" and noted that, while Deady supported slavery when it was legal (holding views that Schill called "abhorrent and contrary to the principles of our university"), he underwent a "metamorphosis" and "embraced the new constitutional order" when laws changed.

In the same statement, Schill announced that Oregon was committed to establishing a new cultural center for black students, another of the 2015 protesters' demands. "I have been convinced that, particularly in light of their small numbers, African-American students need a place that will provide them with an opportunity to gather, reinforce their academic pursuits, enhance connective bonds that support recruitment and retention, and discuss their shared experiences and needs," he said.

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