To Remove ‘Confederate’ from a Building’s Name, Vanderbilt Will Return an 83-Year-Old Donation

Gabriel Sandoval, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 16, 2016

Vanderbilt University will return an 83-year-old donation from the United Daughters of the Confederacy so it can remove a controversial inscription from one of its residence halls, the university announced on Monday.

The original donation of $50,000 was given to the George Peabody College for Teachers in 1933 toward the construction and naming rights of Confederate Memorial Hall. The building opened in 1935, and Vanderbilt acquired it when the university merged with George Peabody in 1979. The university has officially called the building Memorial Hall in recent years and has been seeking permission to remove the word “Confederate” from the inscription on its pediment.

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In 2002, when Vanderbilt first attempted to rename the building Memorial Hall, in honor of Americans killed in war, the United Daughters of Confederacy sued to block the change. In 2005, a Tennessee appeals court decided that the university could remove the name, but only if it reimbursed the donation adjusted for inflation. Anonymous donors, whom the chancellor referred to as “individuals who have been deeply engaged in the university,” came up with the $1.2 million needed.

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