Despite cries of racism, Monmouth U. keeps Woodrow Wilson’s name on building
WEST LONG BRANCH — Another college in New Jersey has decided to keep former President Woodrow Wilson's name on a school building.
Monmouth University's board voted Thursday to keep his name on one of its most prominent buildings, while also promising that "significant steps be taken to ensure a comprehensive and balanced understanding of Wilson's legacy."
Princeton decided in April to keep Wilson's name on its prestigious public policy school, months after a black student group demanded its removal.
Wilson, also a former president of Princeton and governor of New Jersey, allowed his cabinet to re-segregate federal government departments. Wilson also forced civil servant applicants to include photographs, considered by African Americans at the time as a move to weed them out.
Monmouth University history and anthropology professor Richard Veit told New Jersey 101.5 in November of last year his school's structure is a centerpiece of the campus and is considered by some to be the "Downton Abbey" of the Jersey Shore.
Wilson was a "complicated figure" according to Veit.
"He was not particularly great on issues like race or new immigrants in the early 20th century," said Veit. However, Veit said, he had significant accomplishments such as transforming Princeton into a "world class institution" during his time as university president. As governor of New Jersey, Veit said, Wilson proved to be "incorruptible" and passed legislation cleaning up government and the voting process. "He's really an individual with some deep contradictions."
Monmouth Universiy's Wilson Hall was named in honor of the home Wilson used as his summer White House on the Long Branch campus. The mansion was originally owned by Joseph B. Greenhut, the head of New York department store Siegel, Cooper Co. It was destroyed by fire in 1927 and rebuilt.
The building was renovated in the 1980s and became part of the National Register of Historic Places. In 1985, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated it a National Historic Landmark. It also served as Daddy Warbucks mansion in the 1982 movie "Annie."
As previously reported by New Jersey 101.5, Wilson's name appears in several places throughout New Jersey
There's a Woodow Wilson High School in Camden. There are Woodrow Wilson Middle Schools in Clifton and Edison. There are Woodrow Wilson Elementary Schools in New Brunswick, Garfield, Weehawken and Neptune City. Messages left for the superintendents of schools in Camden, New Brunswick and Edison went unreturned.
At the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, where the Turnpike's service areas are named after prominent New Jerseyans, spokesman Thomas Feeney said in an email that no complaints have been made recently about the name of the Woodrow Wilson service area on the northbound New Jersey Turnpike in Hamilton.
— With reporting by the Associated Press and Dan Alexander
From New Jersey 101.5 in 2015: