August 9, 2016
Dear Campus Community,
The University of Oregon is undergoing a self-examination of its policies and practices with respect to race and inclusion, similar to many other universities throughout the nation. Last year, a group of students under the banner of the Black Student Task Force (BSTF) presented me with a set of 13 demands that ranged from creating new programs and increasing African American enrollment to construction of a Black cultural center on or near campus. We continue to make progress on these issues as outlined in a letter to campus in spring. Today, I am providing new information and asking for input regarding the BSTF’s call to change the names of Deady and Dunn Halls because of the racist views and actions of the men for whom the buildings were named.
Earlier this year, I charged a committee—chaired by Associate Professor Charise Cheney and composed of faculty members, administrators, and students—to provide me with a set of criteria that would guide a decision to dename campus buildings. I considered the committee’s recommendations and, in a letter to the campus dated May 6, announced a set of criteria and processes. I asked three prominent historians to carefully review and investigate the historical records of both Deady and Dunn in relation to these criteria.
These three historians provided me with their report on August 5, which is available here on my website. As I requested, the report does not make recommendations about denaming either building. Instead, it carefully considers each criterion through a painstaking analysis of historical records and archives as well as relevant court cases.
The historians’ report is a sobering account of a tumultuous and difficult period in Oregon’s history. I encourage you to read the report and invite you to provide me with your views on whether one or both of the buildings should be denamed.
I would greatly appreciate it if you would provide me with your comments using this form by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24.
Following this comment period, I will carefully consider the report and all the comments before announcing next steps, including the possibility of taking a denaming proposal for one or both buildings to the UO Board of Trustees at some point in the future.
I would like to thank the three historians for their expertise, time, and attention to this important issue. I also would like to acknowledge that the ultimate decision about whether to dename a building is exceedingly difficult and that the historical record in this case is a complicated one. Reasonable people, ethical people, well-meaning people will disagree about the right course of action. One of the things I have been most proud of during my first year as your president is that our community—led by our students—has approached some of the most painful issues facing our society with a tremendous level of commitment, care, and good sense. I am confident that as we move toward a decision on Deady and Dunn Halls, that level of wisdom and sense of community will continue to be in evidence.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law