In the fall of 2015, the Black Student Task Force at the University of Oregon issued 13 demands designed to make the campus more welcoming to African American students. Recently, the university declined to meet one of those demands by deciding not to rename Deady Hall on campus. (See JBHE post.)
But the university has decided to meet another one of the students’ demands by building a new Black Cultural Center on campus. Michael Schill, president of the University Oregon, stated that “African American students need a place that will provide them with an opportunity to gather, reinforce their academic pursuits, enhance connective bonds that support recruitment and retention, and discuss their shared experiences and needs.”
Yvette Alex-Assensoh, vice president for equity and inclusion at the University of Oregon, stated that “the Black Cultural Center will be a place where the village shows up so that our students are engaging with academic superstars from around the country, alumni, community partners, businesses and nonprofit organizations. Our common purpose is to shape Black leaders who have the capacity to change the world in a way that enhances the University of Oregon’s ability to recruit and retain Black students, build interracial coalitions, and advance humanity, global citizenship, business acumen, and social entrepreneurship.”
Funding for the new center has begun with a $250,000 gift from Nancy and Dave Petrone, long-time supporters of the university. The gift will allow for design and planning for the new building. An online portal has been set up to raise additional funds for the center.