The University of Oregon law professor who wore blackface during an off-campus Halloween party is Nancy Shurtz, KEZI reports.

Shurtz has been placed on administrative leave by Michael Moffitt, the dean of the UO School of Law.

According to KEZI, Shurtz sent the following letter to her law students:

“I chose my costume based on a book that I read and liked — Black Man in a White Coat.  I thought I would be able to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story). When I asked my daughter, who is at Brown Medical School, the demographics of her medical school class, she said, ‘They do not give those statistics out, mom.’ Later when she asked the administration, they said there was not one black male student in the class. She and others were outraged. She was able to get the administration to assign a portion of this book (the one where the black medical student was thought to be the janitor) out to students. I am sorry if it did not come off well. I, of all people, would not want to offend.”

Twenty-three law school faculty members signed a statement calling for Shurtz’s resignation.

UO law professor Nancy Shurtz (Courtesy of UO)

“It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. It doesn’t matter if it was protected by the First Amendment,” the statement reads. “Blackface is patently offensive. It is overtly racist. It is wildly inappropriate. It reflects a profound lack of judgment. There is no excuse.”

Here is the statement in its entirety.

UO law student Moorisha Bey-Taylor circulated a petition on Nov. 2 demanding Shurtz’s resignation. At the time of publication, the petition had acquired 751 signatures.

On Nov. 1, UO President Michael Schill sent a statement to all students, faculty and staff denouncing the act and stating that he referred a complaint to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. That office will determine whether Shurtz violated UO policy.

Shurtz could not be reached for comment.


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