UMd. President Recommends Renaming Byrd Stadium

UPDATED: Dec. 7, 2015 9:53 p.m.

BALTIMORE (WNEW/AP) — Former University of Maryland President H.C. “Curley” Byrd’s name should come off of Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium because he worked to maintain racial segregation and endorsed “separate but equal” education, the current president said Monday.

Wallace D. Loh said in emails and letters to the university community and the Board of Regents that the College Park stadium, where the school’s football and lacrosse teams play, should be renamed Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium.

Loh said in the university-wide email, “This is a difficult and emotion-laden issue. Any outcome will likely please few.”

“Months of conversations with internal and external stakeholders—plus thoughtful reports by a 19-member workgroup of faculty, students, staff, and alumni, chaired by Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill of the College of Arts and Humanities—helped inform my thinking and recommendation,” Loh’s statement reads.

In the spring, a coalition of students began a campaign to change the stadium’s name. In September, Loh created a group of faculty, staff, students and alumni to consider the name change. The group has long advocated for a new name for the stadium, arguing that Byrd was a racist and segregationist whose beliefs are contrary to the state flagship school’s mission and principles, The Washington Post reports.

Byrd was president of the university from 1936 to 1954. During a 43-year career at the school, Loh wrote, Byrd oversaw the school’s rapid expansion after World War II, including the construction of 60 buildings, and adopted the terrapin as the institution’s mascot.

Byrd resisted legal efforts by black people to gain admission to the university, Loh wrote. Byrd promoted the development of the Princess Anne campus as an alternative for black students as he continued the segregated environment on the College Park campus.

Loh recommended that the university acknowledge Byrd’s accomplishments in one of the campus’s main libraries. Loh adds the university will also launch a campus-wide “Maryland Dialogues on Diversity and Community” early next semester.

The recommendations come as the university recently unveiled a statue honoring abolitionist Frederick Douglass and named a building after Parren Mitchell, the first black person elected to Congress from Maryland and the first African-American student to earn a graduate degree from the college.

In May, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill renamed a classroom building so that it no longer carried the name of a 19th century Ku Klux Klan leader.

The University of Maryland Board of Regents will consider the request at its meeting Friday.

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(TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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