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Vanderbilt removes 'Confederate' from name of building

Posted: 2:37 PM, Aug 15, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-15 22:41:23Z

Vanderbilt University officials announced that the university will return a donation made 83 years ago so it can remove a controversial inscription from one of its residence halls.

The word "Confederate" will be removed from the "Confederate Memorial Hall."

The building was constructed and named in 1935.

"Our debates and discussions have consistently returned over these many years to the same core question: can we continue to strive for that diverse and inclusive community where we educate the leaders that our communities, nation and world so desperately need, with this hall as so created? My view, like that of so many in the past, and so many in our present, is that we cannot," said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos

The university must pay the Tennessee Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy $1.2 million as a return in present value of $50,000 the organization contributed toward the building's construction and naming rights.

The money was given to the George Peabody College for Teachers in 1933. 

School officials said no institutional funds will be used to return the donation, but instead us gifts from anonymous donors designated to be used specifically for this purpose. 

Chancellor Zeppos said the name had been a symbol of exclusion and divisiveness for many years.

“It spoke to a past of racial segregation, slavery, and the terrible conflict over the unrealized high ideals of our nation and our university, and looms over a present that continues to struggle to end the tragic effects of racial segregation and strife."

Vanderbilt first attempted to rename the building Memorial Hall in 2002 in honor of the men and women who have lost their lives in this nation’s armed conflicts. However, the UDC pursued legal action to retain the original name.

A Tennessee Appeals court ruled three years later that Vanderbilt could remove “Confederate” from the inscription only if the university returned the donation to the UDC at its current value.

Zeppos also announced that the university will establish an annual conference on race, reconciliation and reunion.

Reverend James M. Lawson Professor Dennis Dickerson will work with the Vanderbilt community to plan the first conference.