School to remove name from library over eugenics link

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The name of a former University of Vermont president is being removed from the school library because of his support of research into the eugenics movement in the 1920s and 1930s that helped lead to sterilizations.

The board of trustees voted unanimously on Saturday to drop Guy Bailey’s name from the Bailey/Howe Library.

The move comes in response to concerns raised by some faculty and students. An advisory panel recommended dropping the name because Bailey supported the Eugenics Survey of Vermont and its leader, Henry Perkins, a UVM professor of zoology. Bailey raised substantial private funding for the survey and served on its advisory committee.

“We reached our recommendation based primarily on the fact that Bailey’s active involvement as president of the University in supporting and promoting the Eugenics Survey of Vermont is fundamentally at odds with the University’s mission. We also considered Bailey’s mismanagement of University financial resources,” wrote trustee Ron Lumbra, who served as chairman of the renaming committee.

In the 1930s, some Vermonters of mixed French Canadian and Native American heritage, as well as poor, rural whites, were placed on a state-sanctioned list of “mental defectives” and degenerates and sent to state institutions. Some had surgery after Vermont in 1931 became one of more than two dozen to pass a law that allowed for voluntary sterilizations for “human betterment” as part of the eugenics movement, which supported the selective reproduction of humans.

The new building name, the David W. Howe Memorial Library, honors an alumnus and publisher of the Burlington Free Press newspaper who died in 1969.

UVM president Tom Sullivan said he supported the decision to remove Bailey’s name.

The committee’s report is clear and well-reasoned,” he said in the written statement released. “It is a testament to the fair and deliberative process we have implemented to consider proposals to remove names from UVM facilities.”

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