CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Twenty-four hours after reports surfaced that Saint Ursula Academy leaders were considering stripping the name of a controversial benefactor from their buildings, school leadership says they have decided to go forward with the move.
As of Wednesday, Marge Schott’s name graced two buildings on SUA’s Walnut Hills campus: the school’s academic science, world language and arts facility; and the school’s athletic facility, Schottzie Stadium.
On Thursday the school’s Leadership Team, with the support of the Board, made the decision to remove the names from the buildings, according to a statement signed by SUA President Leila Keefe Kramer and Principal Mari Thomas.
The decision follows discussions on equity begun last year and accelerated over the last week by SUA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the school says.
Kramer adds the school’s leadership felt the timing was right because of the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“From an inclusion standpoint, and in light of everything our African American community is going through, that they will see this as a step in the right direction to help right wrongs that have been made in the past, and also for us to recognize that we aren’t a perfect institution and we have learning to do,” she told FOX19 NOW Thursday evening.
“Probably the biggest lesson we are learning is the ability to lean in and listen,” Kramer continued. “We are prepared to do so, and we look forward to those conversations.”
Marge Schott, former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, contributed several million dollars to Saint Ursula to have a science wing built in her name, SUA Communications Director Jill Cahill told the Enqurier Wednesday.
Schott's personal foundation also helped pay for Schottzie Stadium, which was named after her dog.
Nevertheless, the school’s Thursday statement reads: “We can no longer display the name that does not align with our values of diversity, inclusion, and equity.”
A Cincinnati native, Schott became the owner of the Reds in 1984. During her tenure as owner, Schott made slurs toward African-Americans, Jews and persons of Japanese descent. She was banned from managing the team from 1996 through 1998 after making statements endorsing former Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler.
Schott agreed to sell her controlling interest in the Reds in 1999 and died in 2004.
The Marge & Charles Schott Foundation released a statement earlier Thursday to address the possibility of organizations such as SUA removing Schott’s name from several buildings in Cincinnati. The statement reads in part:
"We appreciate what these great organizations bring to Cincinnati and we fully support the decisions made by the organizations who have received grants from the Foundation.
"We will continue to support the Cincinnati community and the important work of our charities and non-profits.”
SUA’s statement acknowledges the school’s work is not complete:
“As we continue to learn and teach, we appreciate the value of constructive feedback and civil discourse. In an effort to educate critical thinkers, we are committed to having forward-thinking dialogue and curricular discussions on these important issues of equity.
“The school received emails from alumnae and current students sharing their personal stories. Saint Ursula is listening and learning during this time of unrest. The school understands diversity and inclusion work is not enough, we must work towards racial equity. Black Lives Matter. Having every member of our community feel welcome and supported matters.”