College mulls renaming building after pro-Hitler comments
McMullen Hall sits on the campus of Montana State University-Billings in Billing, Mont, in this undated file photo. Officials at the university will consider removing the name of the college's first president Lynn Banks McMullen from its administrative building after discovering quotes from more than 85 years ago in which he supported Adolf Hitler's sterilization plan to improve the genetics of the human race, the university said Thursday, March 3, 2022. (Casey Page/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Officials at Montana State University-Billings will consider removing the name of the college's first president from its administrative building after discovering quotes from more than 85 years ago in which he supported Adolf Hitler's sterilization plan to improve the genetics of the human race, the university said Thursday.
Chancellor Stefani Hicswa formed a task force to review quotes from Lynn Banks McMullen and to recommend whether McMullen Hall should be renamed.
The move comes as universities around the country are renaming buildings to remove names of people tied to slavery, segregation, white supremacy or the Confederacy.
McMullen said education was no substitute for eugenics during a speech to the summer graduating class of the Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Colorado, in August 1935. His daughter was among the graduates.
"I abominate Hitler's general policies, but if I am correctly informed in regard to his campaign for sterilization of the unfit, I prophesy that Germany will do more for the uplift of her society in the next 50 years through sterilization, than we have done in 85 years through public education."
The unfit continue to bring children into the world, McMullen said, according to the Greeley Daily Tribune, while those who should be bettering society by having better bred offspring are having too few.
The brick hall named for McMullen was finished in 1935 and was the first structure at what was then Eastern Montana Normal School. McMullen was president of the school when it was established in March 1927 as a teaching college.
Montana's Board of Regents would have to approve any name change, MSU-Billing spokesperson Maureen Brakke said.
Last month, the University of Minnesota board of regents adopted a policy allowing them to rename buildings after 75 years, or sooner if their namesakes' behavior harms the university's reputation.
University of Alabama trustees recently voted to remove the name of a one-time governor who led the Ku Klux Klan from a campus building and rename it for the school's first Black student.
A University of Southern California building that had been named for a former president who was a eugenicist will be renamed this spring for the late Joseph Medicine Crow, a USC graduate who became the tribal historian for the Crow Nation.