Lanes Letters and More De-naming


Here is more renaming.

The university asked the committee to look for someone who was black, dead and had a direct relationship with Oregon or the UO.

UO picks 4 finalists for renaming building honoring KKK leader



University of Oregon president Michael H. Schill in 2016. Dave Killen/Staff

The University of Oregon building formerly known as Dunn Hall could be named after one of four black people with strong connections to the UO, a panel has recommended after taking suggestions from the public.

The committee received 66 name suggestions, according to UO documents, and selected the final four from 19 candidates who met the UO’s criteria. The university sought a new name for the four-story residence hall because of the racist history of its former namesake, professor Frederick Dunn. After the controversy over Dunn Hall erupted, the UO temporarily changed the name to Cedar Hall.

The selection of name candidates “was not an easy task, nor one we took lightly,” the committee wrote to UO President Michael Schill in a memo Wednesday.

The four finalists are:

Derrick Bell, former UO School of Law dean.

Nellie Franklin, the first black woman to graduate from the UO.

DeNorval Unthank Jr., the first black man to graduate from the UO’s architecture school.

DeNorval Unthank Sr., a Portland doctor and civil rights activist.

The UO Board of Trustees last September stripped Dunn’s name from a wing of the Hamilton Housing Complex, a dormitory. The Black Student Task Force asked the UO in fall 2015 to rename buildings whose namesakes had racist histories, which put a focus on Dunn Hall and Deady Hall, the oldest building on campus.

Dunn was a UO classics professor in the early 1900s and a local leader of the Ku Klux Klan, holding the title of “exalted cyclops.” That fact led to the university’s removal of his name from the dorm. UO founder Matthew Deady, the namesake for Deady Hall, spoke in favor of slavery before the Civil War but later supported anti-discrimination laws. His reversal led UO leaders to decide to keep his name on Deady Hall.

The UO primarily collected name suggestions through an online form. At least 20 people suggested the hall be named in honor of Edwin Coleman, a UO English professor who died at age 84 earlier this year. A black leader on campus, he joined the debate about the name of Deady Hall. He argued in favor of preserving the name.

UO spokesman Tobin Klinger explained why Coleman was not a finalist.

“We cannot lose sight of the policy, which suggests that honorees should be deceased for more than one year, and Dr. Coleman passed away in January,” he said. “But the fact is that he was also a critic of building de-naming.”

Since September, the UO has referred to the former Dunn Hall as Cedar Hall. By early June, Schill will take his name pick to the board of trustees.

The naming committee consisted of Eugene City Councilor Greg Evans, UO Assistant Vice President Carlyn Schreck, College of Education professor Charles Martinez, incoming UO professor Curtis Austin, Hamilton West Housing Life Coordinator Nedzer Erilus, and university students Courtney Ford, Jaria Martin, Brianna Hayes and Kena Gomalo.

The renaming process happens rarely at the UO, with most new buildings on campus being named after or by a donor, Klinger said.

“The circumstances are pretty rare these days for a name to be placed on a building without some degree of conversation with a benefactor,” he said.

The UO’s criteria for the new namesake of former Dunn Hall include someone who advanced justice for blacks in Oregon, overcame discrimination and helped black students succeed in higher education.

The university asked the committee to look for someone who was black, dead and had a direct relationship with Oregon or the UO.

The committee ruled out 34 names for not meeting guidelines, including UO running legend Steve Prefontaine, President Obama and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

Two people each suggested keeping the name Cedar Hall or reinstating Dunn Hall.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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