Oregon State seeks public input on new names for 3 campus buildings

Oregon State plans to change the names of Benton Hall, Benton Annex and Avery Lodge. (SBG/File)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State plans to change the names of Benton Hall, Benton Annex and Avery Lodge.

But to what?

The changes come amidst concerns over the legacy of the building namesakes.

Avery Lodge was named for Joseph C. Avery, who advocated for slavery in Oregon.

Benton Hall was named to honor the residents of Benton County. But the name is shared with Missouri U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, who in the early 19th century opposed the abolition of slavery and favored removing Native Americans from Western lands.

The origins of the Benton Annex name are unknown, but the name shares that same connection to Sen. Benton.

The University plans a public meeting Monday, April 2, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Horizon Room to gather input.

You can also make suggestions online.

Oregon State has set some criteria for each building:

BENTON HALL: "A name for Benton Hall that appropriately recognizes the many contributions of Benton County community residents in the 1860s and 70s that supported the founding of this university."

BENTON ANNEX: "A name for Benton Annex that appropriately recognizes the building as home to the Women’s Center, a valued student resource center."

AVERY LODGE: "Think about names that portray a sense of the geography or place that OSU’s Corvallis campus has in the Willamette Valley; the university’s 150-year history as Oregon’s land grant and statewide university; or the building’s purpose."

Three committees made up of faculty, staff and students will evaluate the proposals and trim the lists down.

The Architectural Naming Committee will make the final recommendations to Oregon State President Ed Ray.

Ray plans to make a decision and announce the new names by late April.

“The names of buildings and places are very important. They help celebrate and acknowledge the university’s past and describe OSU priorities, such as student success, faculty excellence and research innovation,” said Steve Clark, chair of the OSU Architectural Naming Committee and vice president for University Relations and Marketing. “Names also recognize the positive contributions of people and communities associated with Oregon State. Building and place names portray OSU’s values and mission, including efforts to foster inclusivity, equity and success for all.”

Ray elected not to change the names of Gill Coliseum, named for Slats Gill, after finding "no evidence that Gill deliberately sought to keep the Oregon State men’s basketball team from becoming integrated."

Oregon State will also retain the name of Arnold Dining Center, named for a former OSU president who was born into a slave-owning family and served in the Confederate army.

More information on the renaming process is available online.

The University of Oregon underwent a similar process, eventually stripping the name of a Ku Klux Klan leader from a campus dorm.

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