EUGENE, Ore. — The University of Oregon’s president is recommending renaming a campus dormitory building named after a former faculty member who led the Eugene chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, following demands made last year by a task force that represents African American students.
The Register-Guard reported (http://bit.ly/2c9qawA ) Friday that President Michael Schill will forward his recommendation to remove Frederic Dunn’s name from the dorm to the university’s Board of Trustees. It is scheduled to meet Sept. 8-9 and makes final decisions about naming and renaming campus buildings.
Schill, however, has not made a decision yet whether to back another demand by the university’s Black Student Task force to take university founder Matthew Deady’s name off a campus building that was the university’s first and is now home to the its mathematics department.
A memo Schill made public Thursday said Deady, president of the university board of regents in the late 1800s, held “views that were racist and proslavery” but later denounced the Confederacy.
Renaming Deady and Dunn halls was one of a dozen demands made in 2015 by the UO Black Student Task Force.
Schill said he would like Dunn’s name removed from the dorm before students move in later this month so they no longer live in a dorm named for “someone notorious.”
Dunn was the “exalted cyclops” of Eugene Klan No. 3 in the 1920s, when crosses were burned in the open atop Skinner Butte.
“Dunn, as the head of an organization that supported racism and violence against African-Americans, Catholics and Jews, is not a man for whom a building should be named on the University of Oregon campus,” Schill wrote.
Schill added: “While Dunn no doubt was a dedicated teacher and scholar, neither of these activities outweigh the harm he did by lending his name to one of the most despicable organizations in American history.”
But Schill recognized Deady’s contributions to the UO and said the founder’s evolving views on protection of minorities in Oregon.
“He is, in fact, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the university’s history,” Schill wrote.
Schill said he is seeking additional public comment about whether the building named after Deady should be renamed and hopes to make a recommendation by October.
The president said no donors or alumni have threatened to withdraw support because of the possible name change.
“This was going on all spring here and we had our best spring ever in terms of donations,” he said. “People want to hear about it because they care about the university, but none of the alumni or donors are putting pressure on me.”
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com