Oregon State University community members,
I am writing to share my decision regarding new names for three buildings on OSU’s Corvallis campus. These buildings are Avery Lodge, Benton Hall and Benton Annex.
Over the past two years, following scholarly research on the history of these buildings and their namesakes, hundreds of students and OSU employees, as well as community stakeholders and alumni participated in numerous meetings about these buildings and their names. Hundreds more people contributed their thoughts by e-mail, in phone calls, letters, and through a website comment form. Following my decision last fall to change the names of these buildings, the OSU community along with stakeholder committees helped to consider new names for these buildings. (A description of this process, renaming criteria, and the naming policy of the university, along with the research on these buildings and their namesakes, are available on the OSU Building and Place Name website.)
This extensive and thoughtful review was very appropriate.
The names of buildings and places play a very important role in our university. They speak to the history of OSU, the university’s values and mission, and our efforts to create an inclusive community for all. Names also recognize and honor the positive contributions of those associated with the university.
Based upon input gathered, as well as recommendations of the university Architectural Naming Committee, I have decided to provide:
Avery Lodge with a name that honors the contributions and history of Native Americans within the nearby Willamette Valley and recognizes that federal lands deeded to the state of Oregon to create this university were taken from tribes that have lived in this region for many generations;
A new name for Benton Hall that recognizes the contributions made by Benton County community residents to create the college in the 1860’s and 70’s that eventually became Oregon State; and
Benton Annex with a name that appropriately recognizes the building as home to the Women’s Center.
With the assistance of Siletz tribal leaders and Native American linguists and historians, I have decided that Avery Lodge will be called Champinefu Lodge. In the dialect of the Kalapuya tribe, which inhabited this region, the word Champinefu is translated to mean “At the place of the blue elderberry.” Blue elderberries are specific to the Willamette Valley and the areas around our campus are where Kalapuya tribal members historically would travel to harvest blue elderberries. Phonetically, this name is pronounced: CHOM-pin-A-foo.
Benton Hall will be renamed Community Hall to reflect the contributions of local residents in establishing this university, and helping it reach its 150th anniversary and excel as Oregon’s statewide university.
And Benton Annex will be named the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center. Hattie Redmond was a leader in the struggle for women’s suffrage in Oregon in the early 20th century. The right to vote was especially important to Hattie, who was a black woman living in a state that had black exclusion laws in its constitution. Her work is credited with laying the groundwork for the civil rights movement in Oregon in the mid-twentieth century.
These renamings occur as we celebrate OSU150: Oregon State’s 150th anniversary as Oregon’s statewide university. OSU150 runs through October and has offered a rare opportunity to celebrate the university’s past and present, reconcile past problems, and improve for our future. As I have said before, we must acknowledge our past, avoid hypocrisy and recognize the history of those who established this extraordinary university.
Beginning this academic year, we will develop public educational materials that will share the histories of these three buildings and their previous namesakes. These public displays will be within each of these buildings. As well, we will provide similar information within Gill Coliseum and Arnold Dining Center – two buildings whose names last fall I announced would not change. In the years ahead, OSU will document and display the history of all university buildings within each respective building, on the university website and within a mobile app.
I thank everyone who has participated in this important process. Moreover, I thank those who will continue to be engaged as we document the histories of other buildings. Through these many efforts, including OSU150 and the university’s update of its strategic plan, we will remain mindful of the university’s history, as well as its values and mission of inclusive service to our community and all Oregonians.
Edward J. Ray