St. Olaf College is removing the name of a once-beloved professor from a campus building because of what it calls “credible evidence” of sexual misconduct over several decades, the Star Tribune reported.
Since 2002, the college’s arts building has been named for Reidar Dittmann, a Holocaust survivor who taught art and Norwegian at St. Olaf for more than 45 years. He died in 2010 at the age of 88. On Thursday, St. Olaf’s president, David R. Anderson, announced that after investigating reports from multiple former students who had come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Dittman, the college had decided to remove his name from the building.
Mr. Dittmann’s family issued a statement saying they were “shocked and dismayed” by the allegations and by the college’s decision. “We abhor sexual misconduct without exception,” the statement said, “but we are also devastated by the impossibility of due process for the person we knew and loved.” The family also criticized what it called the college’s haste in coming to its decision.
In a letter to the campus, Mr. Anderson defended the college’s decision, saying its investigation had confirmed enough details to support the sexual-misconduct accounts. He also apologized to those who said they had been victims of Mr. Dittmann or other St. Olaf faculty or staff members. “While we can’t change the past,” he wrote, “we can confront it and strive to make amends.”Return to Top