The names of buildings and places play a very important role in our university. They speak to the university’s values and mission and our efforts to create inclusivity. Names also recognize the positive contributions of those associated with Oregon State.
Over the past two years, hundreds of students and OSU employees, community stakeholders and alumni have participated in a comprehensive process to evaluate the names of five buildings on OSU’s Corvallis campus – Arnold Dining Center, Avery Lodge, Benton Hall and Annex, and Gill Coliseum. We have conducted scholarly research on each of these buildings and, where possible, interviewed individuals who personally knew these buildings’ namesakes.
The process of reconciling the histories of these buildings has embodied the spirit and purpose of this university. OSU is a community where learning, discovery, listening, discussion – and even debate – is respected and encouraged.
I have fully reviewed the facts gathered, community input, and the recommendations and input from OSU’s Architectural Naming Committee and Building and Place Name Evaluation Work Group. With this information in hand, I have decided to retain the names of Gill Coliseum and Arnold Dining Center, and to instruct the Architectural Naming Committee to gather input from the community in winter 2018 and recommend to me:
As well, I call upon the Architectural Naming Committee beginning in winter 2018 to lead the gathering and documentation of the history of all OSU buildings and their namesakes; to develop and share public education materials about the history of the five buildings and their namesakes; and create website information, mobile app information and permanent history displays for all OSU buildings.
You can view the full communication to the OSU community on this naming review process and my decision. As well as a full report summarizing the building and place name evaluation process.
President, Oregon State University
During fall term, the OSU community engaged in a process to evaluate the names of five buildings on the Corvallis campus – Arnold Dining Center, Avery Lodge, Benton Hall and Annex, and Gill Coliseum – whose namesakes may have held or espoused racist or otherwise exclusionary views. The community was asked to consider whether the context of the lives and legacies of the buildings' namesakes are inconsistent with OSU's present mission and values such that the buildings should be renamed.
This process involved the broad OSU community, including current students, staff and faculty throughout Oregon, alumni and community stakeholders. It was informed by historical inquiry and guided by a committment to build community through reconciliation and learning from difficult parts of OSU's history.
A full report summarizing the building and place name evaluation process is available here.
A full evaluation of renaming requests are based on the question: Should a building be renamed because the “context” of an individual’s life and legacy is inconsistent with OSU’s contemporary mission and values?
“Context” is evaluated by the following criteria:
By examining the “context” of an individual's life as a university community, we can examine the viewpoints and actions of an individual, and the university's values, practices and policies that may have enabled or supported racist or exclusionary views.
Named after the residents of Benton County in 1947; constructed in 1887-1888. Annex constructed in 1892 and named in 1972. Benton County was named for Thomas Hart Benton, a United States senator from Missouri. More Information. Benton Hall and Annex Historical Report.