Charise Cheney to lead committee examining building names

Ethnic studies professor Charise Cheney will lead a panel looking at the history of two people whose names are on campus buildings
Ethnic studies professor Charise Cheney

Ethnic studies professor Charise Cheney will lead a committee that will offer recommendations on whether some campus buildings should be denamed in light of their current namesakes’ history.

UO President Michael Schill announced the appointment Dec. 3 following a roundtable meeting with students and members of the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon. The meeting was part of the UO’s continuing efforts to engage with students, especially minority students, on issues of respect and campus culture.

The building names are on a list of changes sought by students in the wake of a renewed focus on race, equity and diversity on campuses across the country. Schill said it is important for the university to move with both speed and deliberation to address those issues.

“We all want to see progress on this,” Schill said. “We want it to be deliberative but move expeditiously, because we know this is important to the black students we spoke with.”

The two buildings currently under discussion are Deady Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus and home of the math department, and Dunn Hall, part of the Hamilton student housing complex.

The naming issue is one of 12 raised by students and presented to Schill during recent meetings. At Thursday’s meeting, the president said he will work to address the requests, recognizing that some would require substantial resources and others are not within his power as president to enact alone.

“My leadership team and I are committed to making real progress on issues of race, diversity and inclusion at the UO, and to responding to the specific concerns of black students in a manner that is timely, tangible and thoughtful,” he said.

Yvette Alex-Assensoh, the UO’s vice president for equity and inclusion, is leading the response team. She will work with others on campus to look at the feasibility and costs of all 12 issues raised by students.

Schill said he hopes to have a recommendation on building names before the Board of Trustees by the end of the school year. He wants to move forward on the other issues as quickly as possible.

By Greg Bolt, Public Affairs Communications