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UW-Oshkosh renames theatre building

The Theatre Arts Center, formerly named the Fredric March Theatre on the UW-Oshkosh campus, May 8, 2018. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang){ }

OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- A building on the UW-Oshkosh campus has a new name, two years after students advocated to have it changed.

The former Fredric March Theatre, located at 1010 Algoma Blvd., will be renamed the Theatre Arts Center.

In the early 1970's, UW-Oshkosh named the newly constructed theatre after actor Fredic March, a graduate of UW-Madison who earned international acclaim as an Academy Award winning film actor.

Following a UW-Madison report in 2018, it was revealed that March had ties to a Ku Klux Klan club while he was a student at UW-Madison in the 1920s.

This prompted students on campus to call for the theatre's name to be changed.

In 2019, UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt asked Sylvia Carey Butler, former associate vice chancellor for Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence, to lead an effort to review UW-Madison’s findings and engage the UW-Oshkosh campus communities in conversation.

“We gathered additional background, hosted forums, listened to and surveyed students, collected feedback and considered next steps,” Leavitt said.

While there is no evidence that the UW-Madison group March belonged to was linked to the national movement of the Ku Klux Klan in its time, Leavitt said March’s earlier college inter-fraternal affiliation remains troubling.

“After the UW-Madison revelation, I heard shock and pain from UWO community members and stakeholders urging the administration to remove March’s name from the Oshkosh campus theatre,” Leavitt said. “I have since heard from additional students of color, colleagues, alumni and other advocates supporting that change. Letting the Oshkosh campus theatre’s name stand would also permanently overshadow and discount the educational and artistic virtuosity we work so hard to nurture within and beyond its walls.”

Following the report's release in 2018, UW-Madison covered over two signs in its Memorial Union for areas named after March.