Grand opening for UO's new Black Cultural Center set for Oct. 12

The University of Oregon will officially celebrate the opening of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center with a ceremony Oct. 12.

The center will offer academic services and other educational and cultural programming as well as a space to come together. It will be open to the entire campus community.

The event, which is open to all, gets underway at 11:30 a.m. with a slate of speakers followed by tours of the new building, which is near the corner of 15th Avenue and Villard Street.

The center was first proposed in 2017 in direct response to a demand by the Black Student Task Force following a 2015 demonstration. Fundraising got underway shortly after, following the lead gift from Nancy and Dave Petrone. Groundbreaking was held Oct. 12, 2018, exactly one year prior to the grand opening ceremony.

“The Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center will open to all students,” said R. Kevin Marbury, vice president for student life, who helped guide the center toward completion. “This is a place to come together and celebrate black culture. We are so proud that the voices of our students have created a lasting legacy and will have a major impact on this university and our community for decades.”

The center is named after Lyllye Reynolds-Parker, an extremely popular, longtime campus advisor as well as lifelong resident of Eugene.

The Black Cultural Center Naming Committee, comprised of students, faculty members and staff, received 21 suggestions for who the center should honor as part of a public nomination process conducted earlier this year. It forwarded the names of Parker and Derrick Bell, a former UO law school dean and celebrated law professor, as finalists.

Parker received overwhelming public support in the final phase of the process. UO President Michael H. Schill forwarded her name to the UO Board of Trustees, which voted unanimously at its summer meetings to name the center in Parker’s honor.

The 3,200-square-foot, $3 million center was paid for by private donations. It was designed to provide flexible space that can accommodate an array of activities, including studying, student meetings, academic support and even small classes. The center also will showcase cultural pieces and artwork that celebrate black heritage.

Operations of the center will be funded through the Presidential Fund for Excellence.

On the same day as the center’s celebration, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History will hold an opening ceremony for a related exhibit, “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years — The Eugene Story.” That event starts at 12:30 p.m.

—By Jim Murez, University Communications