University of Maryland President Wallace Loh (AP Photo Patrick Semansky)
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh recently announced the appointment of a task force to consider renaming the Byrd Stadium.
“Comprised of esteemed faculty, staff, students and alumni, the represents the diversity of opinions within our campus community,” the university said in a statement. “The group is tasked to provide President Loh with a thoughtful and balanced assessment of possible options, considering that existing names on all buildings represent the University’s long history and culture.”
The sporting arena, home of the Terrapins football team and located on the College Park campus, is named after H.C. “Curley” Byrd, a former head football coach and later president of the university from rom 1936 to 1954.
Opened on Sept. 30, 1950, the stadium was named for Byrd because of his role in making the University of Maryland the powerhouse institution it is today, both on and off the field.
University of Maryland Byrd Stadium. (commons.wikimedia.org)
“His vision gave University of Maryland preeminence among Eastern campus sports facilities for decades and the impetus for the Terrapins to win more ACC championships than any league school,” according to the stadium’s website.
But in a petition filed in the spring, a coalition of student groups said Byrd’s name casts a taint on the school because of his racist, segregationist past, and requested his name be stricken from the stadium.
The “University of Maryland prides itself on diversity and acceptance. The school should not have a major campus landmark named after a president that did not believe in that diversity,” the petition read, as reported by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The groups further urged administrators to “not alienate minority students by glorifying a president that would not want them to attend.”
The petition was endorsed in a 13-2-2 vote by the Student Government Association, which issued a resolution stating in part, “WHEREAS, during Byrd’s Tenure he barred Blacks from participating in sports and enrolling into the University until 1951 … THEREFORE BE IT ENACTED, that the SGA stand in solidarity with the student body in support of changing the name of Byrd Stadium.”
The work group was slated to meet during the week of Oct. 12, and its final report is due on Dec. 11. President Loh will offer a recommendation to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, who will make the ultimate decision on the proposed name change.