December 18, 2020
To the Campus Community:
I am writing to let you know that the name of CSUN’s Delmar T. Oviatt Library will be changed to the University Library and that the Oviatt name will be removed from the neighboring lawn. This change is effective immediately.
As previously communicated, following concerns expressed by the Student of Color Coalition during Spring 2019, I commissioned a working group that included students, faculty, administrators and alumni to study the role of Delmar Oviatt as a past member and leader within the university community, and recommend whether his name should be used in association with the library. After a thorough year-long review of documents in the university’s archives; transcripts of interviews conducted with CSUN administrators and Oviatt himself; writings and memoranda from Oviatt; formal minutes of the university’s Faculty Senate at the time; primary research, including interviews with a number of people who knew Oviatt; written commentary from more than 35 members of the CSUN community, including retirees; reports from other universities facing similar decisions; and a Zoom discussion with more than 145 participants, during which 27 individuals shared perspectives on the issue, it became clear that some of Oviatt’s decisions and actions did not reflect leadership supportive of advancing campus diversity as related to enrolling students of color and the creation of the Black Studies and Mexican American Studies departments.
The working group issued a report on their findings, which recommended that the Oviatt name be removed from the library and adjoining lawn. That recommendation was unanimously affirmed by the Faculty Senate and the Associated Students Senate.
Today, CSUN’s student diversity and ethnic studies departments are sources of great pride and distinction. Given the importance of diversity and inclusion to CSUN today, and in order to make the campus as welcoming and inclusive as possible, the President’s Cabinet supported the working group’s recommendation to retire the Oviatt name from our iconic library and neighboring lawn. CSU Chancellor White accepted this recommendation and henceforth the library will be known as the University Library.
I thank the members of the Oviatt Library Advisory Working Group, who you will find listed in the report, for their service.
Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D.