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Wildermuth Intramural Center renamed due to namesake’s racism



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The Intramural Center is located at 1025 E 7th St. Buy Photos

The Wildermuth Intramural Center was renamed the Intramural Center at the IU Board of Trustees meeting.

Construction was a major topic of discussion for trustees at their Friday meeting including a new residence and dining facility. Here’s what you need to know.

Board renames Wildermuth Intramural Center

In the final act of the day, the trustees approved a name change for the Wildermuth Intramural Center. The recreational facility will now be called the Intramural Center until a permanent name is decided on. 

IU President Michael McRobbie received a request to change the name in the spring and appointed a committee to help advise him on the matter, according to an IU press release.

The facility was named after former trustee Ora Wildermuth. Due to historical documents linking him to racial attitudes toward African Americans, Japanese and other groups as well as opposition to racial integration, the release said the name change had been under consideration for some time. 

In 1945, Wildermuth wrote a letter to fellow board member Ward Biddle in which he shared his attitudes toward segregation. 

“I am and shall always remain absolutely and utterly opposed to social intermingling of the colored race with the white,” Wildermuth wrote. “I belong to the white race and shall remain loyal to it. It always has been the dominant and leading race.”

A permanent name for the facility is being considered and will likely be revealed in 2019, according to the release. 

Design approved for new residence hall and dining addition

Trustees approved an architectural design for a $99 million housing and dining addition on the north end of the Bloomington campus. 

The new five-story residence hall on North Walnut Grove Avenue will provide on-campus housing for 700 students. The trustees anticipate the building will be completed summer 2020.

This will be accompanied by a new two-story dining facility addition on the west side of Mcnutt Central that will serve 850 students. The design includes 10 restaurants inside the dining hall area with different themes, including barbecue and pork tenderloins at an Indiana themed station. 

The architectural design includes a Starbucks on the lower level of the dining hall. 

Construction projects

The Board of Trustees provided updates on ongoing construction and gave its approval of the designs for upcoming projects. 

The IU Eskenazi Museum of Art is set to open fall 2019. After construction is completed at the end of this year, the process of moving items into the museum will begin. 

The addition to the Fine Arts Studio Building will be finished in December 2018 and will include a collaborative and consolidated studio space for IU art and design programs. 

Construction of Wilkinson Hall is behind schedule. The future home for IU wrestling and volleyball will be done in November, just in time for the final home volleyball game against Purdue.

IU’s golf course is almost complete and will be finished spring 2019. 

Trustees approved a $6.3 million repair project for the roofs of the Fine Arts and Radio-Television buildings and the Simon Music Library and Recital Center’s roof and facade. The board unanimously approved the project that is expected to be completed in 2020.

IU works to preserve audio and video files from the past

The Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative was created in 2013 in an effort to preserve significant audio and visual files from IU’s past. 

Since the project began, 302,732 audio files and 6,479 film files have been digitized and saved for the future. A video of Herman B Wells addressing the class of 1953 was shown to the trustees as an example of the preservation efforts. 

Brad Wheeler, vice president of informational technology, said the reason this project is so important right now is because old forms of media are degrading rapidly while playback equipment is quickly becoming obsolete with replacement parts getting harder to find.

IU expects to have the project completed with nine petabytes, equivalent to 9 million gigabytes, of data storage by 2020,  Wheeler said.

Introduction of staff engagement survey

John Whelan, vice president of human resources, provided the trustees with an update on the new Human Resources 2020 framework. 

In fall 2017, IU launched a staff engagement survey to gauge the sense of belonging and motivation for employees across the University, Whelan said. As a result, 291 action plans were created University-wide. 

Due to the success of this survey, Whelan said IU plans to administer a staff-engagement survey every two years. 

Search for new retirement vendor begins

As discussed in a Bloomington Faculty Council meeting last month, Whelan said IU will being putting out requests for proposals for new retirement service vendors for its faculty starting next week. 

Whelan said the eligibility requirements and contribution levels for current employees will not change. 

The next IU Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6 to 7 at IU Kokomo.

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