Tennessee Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy v. Vanderbilt University

174 S.W.3d 98 (2005)

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Tennessee Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy v. Vanderbilt University

Tennessee Court of Appeals
174 S.W.3d 98 (2005)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD

Facts

The Tennessee Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (TUDC) (plaintiff) gave $50,000 to Peabody College to build a dormitory named “Confederate Memorial Hall” in three subsequent agreements dated 1913, 1927, and 1933. Female students nominated by TUDC who were descendants of Confederate soldiers lived in the dorm rent-free. In 1979, Vanderbilt University (defendant) merged with Peabody College, assumed all of its legal obligations, and ended the program. In 1989, after Vanderbilt spent $2.5 million renovating the building, controversy arose over its name. The student government association installed a doorway plaque explaining why the name included “Confederate,” but controversy over the name arose again in 2000. A new chancellor agreed to change the name, and Vanderbilt had removed “Confederate” from its maps, website, and correspondence but not yet the building’s stone pediment when TUDC sued for breach of contract in 2002. The trial court found Vanderbilt had substantially performed the obligations assumed under the TUDC contracts and granted summary judgment allowing it to remove “Confederate” from the building. TUDC appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Koch, J.)

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