Cedar Hall renaming committee makes recommendations

Hamiton Housing Complex

The UO’s process for selecting a new permanent name for Cedar Hall is coming to a close, with four accomplished individuals now under consideration by President Michael H. Schill.

The recommended names will be considered for a wing in the Hamilton Housing Complex formerly known as Dunn Hall. It was temporarily named Cedar Hall after being denamed by the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon on a recommendation from Schill. The committee began its work in mid-March.
“It is terrific to have received so many excellent suggestions, and frankly all of them are deserving of our recognition,” Schill said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about our past and celebrate our outstanding alumni, faculty and friends. I look forward to reviewing the committee’s recommendations and learning more about these extraordinary individuals.”

The committee has forwarded names and biographical information for consideration. They are:

  • Derrick Bell (1930-2011): Dean of the UO School of Law for five years beginning in 1980. As a professor of law at Harvard University in the mid-1970s, he established a field of study known as “critical race theory.” Bell was a published author and noted lecturer on critical race theory and civil rights. More recently he made national headlines as a friend to former President Barack Obama. The Law School has a speaker series named in Bell’s honor.
  • Nellie Franklin (exact dates unknown): The first African-American woman to graduate from the UO. Franklin came to the nearly all-white University of Oregon from Portland in 1928. She was denied residence in campus housing because of her race. Undeterred, Franklin stayed at the UO and graduated with a degree in music in 1932, after an active career in various student organizations such as the Women’s Athletic Association, Polyphonic Choir and Cosmopolitan Club, an interracial support system.
  • DeNorval Unthank Jr. (1929-2000): Graduated from the UO with a degree in architecture in 1951. He was the first African-American to graduate from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. He was a noted architect in the Eugene-Springfield area, working on several projects, including the Lane County Courthouse, the former UO Law School (McKenzie Hall), Kennedy Junior High School and several other public and private buildings.
  • DeNorval Unthank Sr. (1899-1977): A noted figure and civil rights activist in the Portland community, he received a medical degree from Howard University in 1926 and was recruited to Portland to be a physician for Union Pacific Railroad, as the company required a black physician care for its black workers. At the time he was one of only two black doctors in Portland, but soon became the only one when his colleague at Union Pacific transferred.

The committee’s work was guided by a set of criteria outlined by Schill at the onset and written in consultation with the Black Student Task Force.

Schill is expected to take his recommendation to the UO Board of Trustees for consideration at the regular June meetings.

—By Tobin Klinger, University Communications