Published January 13, 2015
Vanderbilt University (search) is giving up its long-running court fight to have the name "Confederate Memorial Hall" removed from the stone front of a campus dormitory.
Chancellor Gordon Gee (search) dropped the word "Confederate" from the dorm's name in 2002, citing an effort to create a more welcoming environment. But the United Daughters of the Confederacy (search), which helped finance the building, sued when the school wanted to physically remove the name from the main entrance.
The case reached the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which in May ordered Vanderbilt to either leave the chiseled name alone or reimburse the UDC $50,000.
University spokesman Mike Schoenfeld said Monday that Vanderbilt decided to stop pressing the issue and let the deadline to appeal the ruling pass last week.
"The university has chosen not to appeal the court's decision, even though we disagree with it," Schoenfeld said.
The court's ruling does not affect Vanderbilt's practice of referring to the building simply as Memorial Hall, Schoenfeld said. He said university officials would use the issue as an ongoing "educational opportunity."
UDC lawyer Doug Jones said it was "unfortunate that the administration saw the need to try and rewrite history."
The UDC had donated one-third of the cost of the building. The name Confederate Memorial Hall was chiseled over the main entrance in return.
"This was about the South and honoring boys from Tennessee who died," Jones said.