Harry Reid is being shown the door — or rather, his name is coming off it.
Southern Utah University, where the Senate majority leader attended, has received a deluge of requests to remove Reid’s name from the school’s Outdoor Engagement Center — and some hefty donation pledges to make it happen.
“We had people step up and pledge money towards removing his name. In five days I received pledges totaling $40,000 – in just five days,” Cedar City, Utah, Councilman Paul Cozzens told the Spectrum newspaper of St. George, Utah.
City residents don’t think much of having the Nevada Democrat’s name on the Harry Reid Outdoor Engagement Center. The building is being renamed simply the “Outdoor Engagement Center.”
“This is a conservative base in Southern Utah and many people in southern Nevada also feel the same way,” Cozzens said. “These people in Nevada do not espouse to Reid’s political philosophies, and they told me they would not support the university or send any more of their children there, and this was coming from people who had already sent children to SUU, so long as Harry Reid’s name remained.”
Southern Utah University President Scott Wyatt told The Spectrum newspaper that he was not accepting donations to remove Reid’s name. The Spectrum reported that citizens first met with Wyatt earlier this year asking for Reid’s name to come off. Later, members of the city council got involved.
Wyatt in an e-mail to TheBlaze Saturday said many of the news stories on the topic have not been correct. He verified an e-mail he sent to SUU faculty and staff that read, “You should know that I refused to accept any funds raised for that purpose.”
“The implication that we removed his name in response to a fundraising effort for that purpose is simply not accurate,” the Wyatt e-mail in response to news coverage said. “In fact, we have not removed his name. We have simply divided out two centers and left the one, as originally contemplated, dormant until fully funded.”
The Spectrum reported, “When Reid’s name was applied to the center, it was believed donations would be forthcoming, but to this day no money has been given.”
In Wyatt’s e-mail to faculty, he explained when Reid agreed to have his name used, “Part of the understanding at the time was that the university did not have funds to open or operate the center and so the university was going to work with likely donors to raise the funds. To date we have not raised sufficient funds to open and operate the center.”
The Spectrum reported Wyatt said he is respecting community wishes to remove Reid’s name, but out of respect for the lawmaker alumnus, still plans to put it on a separate Harry Reid Center – that doesn’t exist yet.
“We have not received any money yet for … that building, so if that happens then it will give us an opportunity to build a Harry Reid Center and to clearly define the purpose of that center,” Wyatt told The Spectrum. “… Sen. Reid is part of the SUU alumni and he was gracious enough to grant the university the use of his name, and I didn’t want to offend him in any way.”
Reid issued a statement Friday to the Associated Press.
“I was approached and asked to use my name and I was happy to, but there was no such agreement to have me raise funds for it,” the senator said. “I’m not going to raise money to have my name placed on anything.”
Wyatt further explained in the e-mail to faculty and staff, “The Harry Reid Center at SUU and the SUU Outdoor Engagement Center were merged together. This merger created some confusion for the Outdoor Engagement Center; they have suggested it will be helpful if the Harry Reid Center and the Outdoor Engagement Center were separated out, and we have done so. The Harry Reid Center remains at SUU; however, as originally contemplated, it will not be active until we raise sufficient funds to open and operate it.”