Writer Wendell Berry (above) has withdrawn all his papers from the University of Kentucky in a protest of the naming of the Wildcat Coal Lodge, the name given to the new dormitory for the university’s basketball players, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “The coal business came up, and that for me was just the last straw,” Berry told the newspaper Tuesday. “I don’t think the University of Kentucky can be so ostentatiously friendly to the coal industry … and still be a friend to me and the interests for which I have stood for the last 45 years. … If they love the coal industry that much, I have to cancel my friendship.”
Berry has been an advocate for small scale farming and an opponent of coal strip mining. He is also a graduate from the University of Kentucky and he taught there for many years. See an interview here and an article by Berry about small farming here.
The UK board of trustees approved a new $7 million Wildcat Coal Lodge last October. Coal interests largely paid for the new building. Berry wrote the university in December announcing his decision to withdraw his papers.
The University’s president and board have solemnized an alliance with the coal industry, in return for a large monetary ‘gift,’ granting to the benefactors, in effect, a co-sponsorship of the University’s basketball team,” Berry wrote a typewritten letter the Herald-Leader just obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act.