UC Berkeley School officials have disavowed a eugenics research fund the institution had been supporting and pledged to repurpose the money. Further actions — including a public apology and the establishment of a public education project on eugenics are also under consideration, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The program was established in the 1960s and taken on by UC Berkeley in 1975. It offers an annual payout of $70,000 in support of eugenics-related research, according to the LA Times, as part of a $2.4 million endowment that has been active at the university for four decades.

Eugenics is the theory that the genetics of the human race can be improved through selective breeding. Adolf Hitler was a supporter and used it to attempt to create a superior white race.

The Times cites UC Berkeley professor Osagie K. Obasogie as one of the individuals who brought the fund to light. In late 2018, he received a campus email about it and was encouraged to apply. 

Obasogie told the publication the email left him feeling “shocked and dismayed,” and he, along with a group of faculty members, voiced their concerns to the former senior administrator who had written the email.

That prompted the university to freeze the fund and launch an investigation.

On Monday, UC Berkeley Dean of Michael C. Lu circulated a memo disclosing the existence of the fund and asked for suggestions on how to repurpose the money.

“By accepting and using these funds over the past four decades, we must acknowledge that Berkeley Public Health has been a part of this horrific legacy of eugenics and its disastrous impacts,” he wrote in the letter, part of which was shared with the San Diego Union-Tribune

“It was wrong then. It is wrong now.”

Lu says there is no evidence the money was used to support eugenics research, but rather genetic counseling and other programs.

The announcement comes at a time when numerous academic institutions are attempting to create distance from their racist and oppressive histories.

In January of this year, the University of Guelph became the first Canadian university to reconcile its history of teaching eugenics in the first half of the twentieth century.

Many universities remain reluctant to delve into their past involvements with oppressive and discriminatory research, training, and practices.

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