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Western Carolina University to remove name from auditorium

The board of trustees at Western Carolina University has voted unanimously to approve a resolution removing the name of a former North Carolina governor from a campus auditorium.

A news release from the school said the board’s vote occurred on Monday during a special meeting held by teleconference because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former governor Clyde R. Hoey, who was also a state legislator and U.S. senator, actively opposed civil rights legislation and favored racial segregation. According to the news release, Hoey also opposed statehood for Hawaii because the territory contained “only a small percentage of white people.”

Board chairman Bryant Kinney said he and his fellow trustees thought it was important for the university to take action.

“The board feels strongly that we needed to take this step to reflect the values of today’s Western Carolina University campus,” Kinney said. “We are not an institution that honors a past that supported inequality. We are an institution that honors diversity, equality and social justice.”

Chancellor Kelli R. Brown called the board’s action “long overdue.”

Completed in 1939, the historic 450-seat auditorium was renovated in the late 1980s and is slated for demolition as part of the university’s long-range master plan, said Interim Provost Richard Starnes.

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