Naming Committee meets Thursday

Corryn Brock, News Editor

The Naming Committee voted to recommend that Eastern President David Glassman rename the undergraduate student art gallery in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

The committee recommended the gallery be renamed as the Glenn Hild Student Art Gallery in honor of the former art department chair and dean of the former College of Arts and Humanities.

Hild began working at Eastern in 1980, served as department chair from 1993 to 2014 and dean for two years following his time as chair.

Hild died in 2018.

The committee vote unanimously to recommend the renaming and committeepersons spoke on Hild’s impact on Eastern.

Sace Elder, Council of Chairs representative, said after spending years knowing Hild she felt the gallery would be a good tribute to him.

“He was absolutely wonderful, and I don’t think you could overstate how influential he was in the college and for the art department and I think this is a really beautiful way to remember him,” Elder said.

Don Holly, Faculty Senate chair and representative, said the amount of money raised in Hild’s honor spoke to how others felt about him.

“It’s very impressive that $100,000 has been raised by his friends and family, it can tell you something about his legacy and the love and support the community has for him,” Holly said.

Mona Davenport, Director of the Office of Inclusion and Academic Engagement and a committee member appointed by Glassman, said she believes the university could only benefit from the renaming.

“He was literally always willing to help and do anything he can when we had the office of minority affairs and anything he could do to collaborate,” Davenport said. “I think this is well deserving and I think it would be an honor for us to even have it at our institution.”

The committee was also addressed by Glassman and given the charge to evaluate the potential changing of the name of Douglas Hall and make a recommendation to the president’s council.

In the past 10 years the naming committee has addressed the renaming twice and both times decided to recommend the name remain the same.

Douglas Hall was built with Lincoln Hall to commemorate a debate between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln at the Coles County Fair Grounds in 1858.

The two debated slavery, with Douglas being pro-slavery.

Glassman said the buildings have always been to commemorate the debate and not the beliefs of the two men.

“There is no doubt that Stephen Douglas was a racist and an ardent supporter of slavery and there is no doubt the naming of Douglas Hall on EIU’s was never meant to commemorate his racist ideology,” Glassman said. “The naming on our campus was solely to commemorate a major historical debate that dealt with the national divisive issue of slavery in the 1850s and its impact on the eventual passing of the 13th amendment of the Constitution under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.”

Previously it was recommended that the name not be changed due to the historical significance of the debate, but it was decided information explaining the name should be displayed for educational purposes.

“Nevertheless, the question of having any building on campus with the name of an ardent racist and pro-slavery proponent is personally troubling for many in the EIU community,” Glassman said. “To that end, I’m asking that the University Naming Committee convene once again and review the name of Douglas Hall for its appropriateness at Eastern Illinois University. The difficulty in your charges is that there are very legitimate positions on both sides of this question and immense passion by those that feel that the name should be changed and those that feel that the commemoration of the 4th debate between Douglas and Lincoln holds strong historical significance to the ending of slavery and the 13th amendment as well as the significance to the city of Charleston, Illinois and Coles County.”

Jan Nickell of Mount Zion and the mother of an Eastern alumni, was the only individual to voice an opinion during public comment.

Nickell specified she is not a community member of alum of the university.

She said she felt the two halls, Lincoln and Douglas, went together.

“My son attended (Eastern) in the last 90s, early 2000s and he actually lived in Douglas Hall. What is Douglas Hall without Lincoln Hall? It’s like salt and pepper, bread and butter. They go together. There’s a lot of negative towards Douglas now because of who he was but Lincoln would not have been the man he was without Douglas.”

She implied she would not like to see the name of the hall changed.

“I would like to see history remain at Eastern, good or bad it happened.”

Glassman asked that the committee members take an unbiased approach at making a recommendation and collect information from various constituencies to make a final recommendation.

Elder expressed she may be considered biased due to the department she chairs, the history department, writing a letter to Glassman over the summer asking that a name change be made.

No decision was made regarding her involvement during the meeting.

Angie Campbell was selected to be the chair of the committee during the meeting.

The committee members include:

· Holly, Faculty Senate

· Claudia Janssen-Danyi, Council on Academic Affairs

· Campbell, Staff Senate

· Elder, Council of Chairs

· Noor Ul Haash Khamisani, Student Senate

· Carlos Amaya, Presidential Appointee

· Davenport, Presidential Appointee

· Ken Wetstein, ex officio convener of the committee

The committee plans to meet biweekly after discussing the best time to meet.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]