The Corvallis School Board voted to rename the football stadium at Corvallis High School after the school's current athletic director, Bob Holt, at a meeting Thursday night.
Renaming the stadium for Holt was proposed by CHS Principal Matt Boring in September, and the board approved it after a long discussion of district policy that prioritizes naming buildings for retired or deceased people and allows naming of parts of buildings after living individuals only in extenuating circumstances.
Boring said he wanted to honor Holt while he was around to appreciate the recognition.
"I just can't think of anyone more deserving of an honor like that, in terms of being a servant-leader," said Boring.
Boring said he was motivated to bring the proposal to the board by regret that the CHS softball field wasn't named for Will Keim, an assistant softball coach who was instrumental in getting the field built, until after Keim died of cancer in 2016.
Most board members initially expressed a reluctance to name the stadium after Holt, even if district policy considered length and magnitude of service to district as an extenuating circumstance.
"This can't be the the only employee we have in this district who is so exceptional," said Judy Ball. "The difficulty I have is separating one employee who is exceptional from all the others."
Terese Jones said she was concerned about how the honor of having a place or building named after someone is usually given to people in athletics. She added that she had concerns about whether the district is equitably honoring diverse people with its naming decisions.
However, two student representatives to the school board spoke in support of Holt.
Elias Melchor, the College Hill High School representative, said Holt, who was a math teacher at CHS before retiring into the half-time athletic director position, had a big impact on him when he was at CHS.
"He's a really good guy. He tutored me in math and he really helped me at a time when I was depressed."
Rose Martines, who represents CHS, said Holt has had a huge influence on many students.
"It would mean a lot to everyone who has any sort connection to him," Martines said.
She added that honoring Holt while he was still at the school would set him up as a role model for students while he was still at the school for them to see how his example.
Ed Junkins, a board member, said the students' perspectives were what made the proposal appealing to him.
"They are making the case very well," he said.
Ultimately Ball and Jones voted against the proposal.
[An earlier version of this article stated only Ball voted against the measure. Jones also voted against the measure, but was so quiet Board Chair Vince Adams did not hear her vote, so he only recognized Ball as a 'no' vote. Jones later announced at the meeting that she had intended to vote 'no' and the meeting's record was updated to reflect that].