Oregon State Will Change Some Building Names

November 28, 2017

Oregon State University will rename multiple campus buildings after concerns they were named for racist, it announced Monday.

University President Ed Ray has asked for recommendations for new names for Avery Lodge and Benton Hall and its annex, which all house various administrative offices.

Avery Lodge was named for Joseph C. Avery, founder of Corvallis, Oregon, where the university is located. He has been linked to a publication that wrote favorably about slavery, the Occidental Messenger, which was published in the 1850s.

Benton Hall was meant to honor the achievements of Benton County, where Corvallis is located, but has inevitably been tied to former Missouri U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton, for which the county is named.

The senator supported legislation to kick Native Americans off their tribal lands, and early on his political career was pro-slavery, though later he opposed expanding slavery into western territories, Ray noted in his statements to the campus.

The two other buildings that the university considered renaming were the Arnold Dining Center and Gill Coliseum. The coliseum was named for former men’s basketball coach and athletics director Amory T. “Slats” Gill, whom some had accused of trying to prevent the basketball team from being integrated.

The dining hall, named for Benjamin Lee Arnold, a former president of Corvallis College, which was eventually became Oregon State, was also tied to slaves, but was not a slave owner himself, Ray said in his statement.

“The process of reconciling the histories of these buildings has embodied the spirit and purpose of this university,” Ray said in his statement. “OSU is a community where learning, discovery, listening, discussion – and even debate – is respected and encouraged. While not everyone will agree with the outcomes, I believe this process is proof that at OSU, we productively and positively take on tough issues and collaborate.”

The committee charged with renaming the buildings will begin its work in winter 2018.


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