MINNEAPOLIS -- Officials of Augsburg College decided this week not to name a wing of a new building for one of the building's donors after it was disclosed in the media that the donor had anonymously sent as many as 100,000 hate letters to people with interracial families, including the school's president.
"The positions and actions of Mr. Elroy Stock, as reported in the media, have disturbed, angered and saddened hundreds of individuals and families, including members of the Augsburg community," college President Charles Anderson said in a statement after a meeting Tuesday of a regents committee.
"Augsburg, while a beneficiary of Mr. Stock, does not in any sense support these positions and actions . . . . For some persons, to have the name of Mr. Stock on a wing of our new building would be misunderstood to mean the college agrees with his stance."
Stock, 65, a retired West Publishing Co. executive who lives in Woodbury, gave the Lutheran school $500,000, which the college put toward a new worship, drama and communication building.
The college planned to honor Stock, an alumnus, by naming a wing of the building for him. It reconsidered after a report last week by WCCO-TV that Stock had been sending the anonymous letters to interracial couples for 14 years.
The college president, who is white who has a black daughter-in-law, said he had received three anonymous letters from Stock.
Anderson said about 25 alumni and others associated with Augsburg had called to urge action divorcing the college from the letter-writer.
Anderson said the regents panel decided it was not necessary to return the $500,000 donation or other contributions Stock has made over some 20 years.
"Mr. Stock's way of acquiring the funds is through honest work," Anderson said at a news conference. "Whatever Mr. Stock has done, he has had an opportunity to use his means to do some good for a lot of people. I see no reason why he should be denied that opportunity."
Stock agreed to the renaming, Anderson said.
Anderson said he was convinced after meeting with Stock during the weekend that the letter-writer is sorry he hurt people with his mailings. "He feels that he is just trying to teach people," Anderson said. "He doesn't come off as a racist in the sense that some people are inferior."
Stock maintained in interviews with WCCO-TV that the races should remain separate.
Using scriptural references, Stock's letters included such comments as, "Satan is on a rampage to destroy God's races," and "A dog breeder would not think of producing mongrel dogs, so why should the human race be mongrel?" according to the station.
After a five-year investigation, prompted by nearly 1,000 complaints, postal officials linked the mailings to Stock in early 1987 through fingerprints and handwriting samples.
But Stock could not be prosecuted because he had not broken any laws. Complaints ceased shortly after Stock was confronted by authorities in March 1987, McKusick said.
Anderson said no one at the college knew of Stock's mailings or his opposition to mixed-race families until school officials were contacted by the television station.