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'Deady was also a deeply flawed man': President will not recommend changing hall name

EUGENE, Ore. - Removing the name of a man who served as Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan from a University of Oregon residence hall proved relatively straightforward for the president and trustees.

But the case of Deady Hall - named for Matthew Deady, who established the School of Law and served as the 33rd state's first federal judge - proved more complicated.

"Some of his opinions and actions today, especially his support of slavery (which he never disavowed), the exclusion of blacks from the state, his judicial reasoning on race and citizenship, and his patriarchal views of women’s property rights are repugnant to us today, though they—in particular black exclusion—found broad support in his own time," wrote historians commissioned by the University to research both Deady and the professor whose name has been removed from what is temporarily known as Cedar Hall. "Others, especially his sympathy for Native Americans under conquest and for Chinese immigrants, were strikingly progressive for his time."

"Deady was also a deeply flawed man. He held racist views which I find abhorrent and contrary to the principles of our university," President Michael Schill wrote in a letter published January 25, 2017. "His support of slavery prior to the Civil War cannot be excused, even if it was based upon his understanding of the 'letter of the law' of property. Nor can his support for the 1849 exclusion act be ignored. The fact that Deady’s views and actions were shared by many Oregonians at the time he lived does not excuse them, although it does explain them."

In the final analysis, however, Schill said he will not recommend removing Deady's name from Deady Hall.

Many of Deady’s historical accomplishments were exceptional. He was an active and respected legislator and political figure in the state. He was appointed by President Buchanan to be the first federal judge for the State of Oregon. He, more than any single person in the University of Oregon’s history, played a formative role in its creation and early years as a regent. It was his work in persuading Northern Pacific Railroad president Henry Villard to donate to the university that kept its doors open in the 1880s.
Although Deady’s racist views did not abate after the Civil War, he fully embraced the new constitutional order. The historians characterize his change as a 'metamorphosis.' Deady supported the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which guarantee to all equal protection under the US Constitution. While he never had the opportunity to issue an opinion involving African American civil rights, he was a protector of Chinese immigrants.
Deady does not represent an example of an egregious case justifying overturning the presumption against denaming.

Schill noted that "Deady Hall will remain a symbol of racial intolerance for many of our students."

He used the letter to review actions taken by the University to combat bigotry and racism even before several high-profile incidences, including a law professor who wore black face to a Halloween party.

And he announced a commitment to build a new Black cultural center on campus. A $250,000 gift from alumnus and campaign chair Dave Petrone and his wife Nancy will kick off the $3 million effort.

About the building itself

Deady Hall was constructed between 1873 and 1876. The building was identified as historically significant in 1964. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


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