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August 17, 2016

Vanderbilt to Return 1933 Gift to Rename ‘Confederate’ Dorm

Vanderbilt University will pay $1.2 million to a donor organization in order to remove the word “Confederate” from the name of an 81-year-old campus residence hall, The Tennessean reports. The payment represents, in today’s dollars, the $50,000 the United Daughters of the Confederacy gave the Nashville institution in 1933 to support the building’s construction and name it Confederate Memorial Hall.

The deal announced Monday caps a 14-year effort by the private college to rename the building. A proposal to do so in 2002 brought a lawsuit by the donor group. A state appeals court ruled three years later that Vanderbilt could change the name only if it returned the donation at current value. University trustees approved the payment this summer after anonymous donors pledged the necessary $1.2 million.

Since 2005, the university has officially referred to the dormitory as Memorial Hall but “Confederate” remained in its inscription. "It's a symbol that is, for many people, deeply offensive and painful," Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said. "And to walk past it or to have to live in that space is really something that I just don't think is acceptable."