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University Policy 11

Criteria and Procedures for Naming Facilities and Programs

Authority: Board of Trustees
Approved by Executive Council: February 18, 2020
Approved by Board of Trustees: March 6, 2020
Policy Topic: Governance and Administration
Administering Offices: Division of Advancement, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of the Provost

1. Purpose

1.1 This policy sets forth the criteria and procedures for naming Western Carolina University facilities and programs.  This policy does not apply to scholarships, degrees, awards, or other distinctions. 

2. Definitions

2.1 The term “benefactors” includes individuals, corporations and other organizations.

2.2 The term “donor naming” is a naming made pursuant to 6.1.1 of this policy. 

2.3 The term “facilities” includes buildings, rooms, interior spaces, exterior spaces (such as gardens, courts, plazas, memorials, markers, monuments, etc.), streets, athletic fields, open spaces, and all other tangible and relatively permanent features owned, operated or controlled by Western Carolina University.

2.4 The term “honoree” includes actual and potential persons named pursuant to 6.1.2 of this policy.

2.5 The term “honorary naming” is a naming made pursuant to 6.1.2 of this policy. 

2.6 The term “program” includes colleges, departments, institutes, centers, and other units associated with university functions.

3. Review

3.1 The naming policy shall be reviewed at least every four years by the Division of Advancement with all recommended changes requiring approval by the Chancellor and Board of Trustees.

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Board of Trustees

4.1.1 The act of naming a facility or program shall be that of the Board of Trustees, acting after receiving the recommendation of the Chancellor. Benefactors or honorees should be informed throughout the naming discussions that final naming approval for all University facilities and programs rests with the Board of Trustees.

4.2 Chancellor

4.2.1 Subject to the responsibilities of the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor shall have responsibility and authority with respect to, and is an essential participant in, all naming actions.

4.2.2 No facility or program may be named without the early knowledge and prior approval of the Chancellor. The Chancellor shall endeavor to determine that the proposed action is consistent with the interests of the University, to assure that the amount of any contribution warrants the action proposed, and to maintain equity in the relationship of donations for similar naming actions.

4.2.3 The Chancellor may recommend exceptions to any of the following naming policies, subject to approval of the Board of Trustees and after consultation with Executive Council when appropriate.

4.3 The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Naming Facilities and Programs

4.3.1 Consistent with the Board of Governors' Delegation of Duty and Authority to Boards of Trustees, which delegates to the Board of Trustees the authority to approve the naming of programs and facilities, and as a means of guiding the development of recommendations to the Board of Trustees for naming University facilities and programs, the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Naming University Facilities and Programs (hereinafter referred to as "the Committee") is hereby established as a permanent committee. The Committee shall advise the Chancellor, in confidence, with respect to proposals to name or change the name of University facilities and programs, consistent with the policy and procedures set out below.

4.3.2 Membership Chief of Staff – Chair Vice Chancellor for Advancement Provost Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Athletic Director General Counsel

5. Procedures

5.1 Clearance to make a naming offer shall be obtained prior to any communication with potential honoree or donor.  For donor naming, clearance must be obtained through the Vice Chancellor of Advancement who shall consult with the Chancellor.  For honorary naming, clearance must be obtained through the Chief of Staff who shall consult with the Chancellor.

5.2 Proposals for namings shall be accompanied by sufficient documentation of the gift, along with a completed naming agreement.

5.3 The Committee shall review the proposal and make recommendations consistent with this policy.  When considering proposals, the Committee may consult with they whomever deem necessary to evaluate and consider the proposed naming (for example, consulting with the Chair of the Faculty or Staff Senate).

5.4 Proposals for namings under this policy should be sent to General Counsel for an appropriate background screen.  Background screens may include, but is not limited to, criminal history, social media checks, litigation history, and media screens.  Upon request of General Counsel, an extensive background screen may be conducted by an external vendor if the naming involves a gift of at least one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) or the visibility of the facility or program to be named rises to the level of such need.  When requested, the potential donor or honoree shall provide a release and acknowledgement that an extensive background screen will be conducted by an external vendor and the results will be shared with the Chancellor, General Counsel and other need to know University officials. 

After review, General Counsel shall forward his/her findings to the Chancellor.

5.5 The Chair of the Chancellor Advisory Committee shall forward recommendations to the Chancellor. The Chancellor, as he or she deems appropriate, may make recommendations to the Administration, Governance and Trusteeship Committee of the Board of Trustees. The Administration, Governance and Trusteeship Committee of the Board of Trustees shall review recommendations from the Chancellor and select those to be recommended to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

5.6 When a facility or program to be named is closely related to a school or department, the Committee should make efforts to solicit feedback prior to final approval.

6. Naming Criteria

6.1. The act of naming a University facility or program for a person, a family, or an organization is the conferral by the University of a high and conspicuous honor, bestowed upon those who have made a substantial and sustained contribution to the University or have brought special distinction to the University, to the State, or to society at large by services rendered. The act of naming a facility or program is to be taken discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and with concern for how that action will be viewed in the retrospect of decades. In recommending the conferral of a naming honor on individuals or organizations, the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Naming Facilities and Programs shall evaluate the whole legacy of those individuals or organizations on the basis of standards relevant to the honoree's own time. In the case of historical persons or entities, it is constructive also to view the proposed naming by contemporary standards to ensure that the naming is appropriate.

6.1.1 Donor Naming: It is the policy of the University that facilities or programs of the University may be named for benefactors in consideration of substantial financial contributions made to the University.

6.1.2 Honorary Naming: It is the policy of the University that facilities or programs of the University may be named to recognize organizations, events/dates, places, or programs significant to the life and/or history of the University. Examples: To recognize an organization with historical and exceptional ties to the University; an event or date significant in the University’s history; a place with significant meaning for or ties to the University; or a program, activity, function, or symbol pertinent to the life of the University.

6.1.3 Facilities or programs will not be named for members of the University faculty or staff, members of the Board of Trustees, members of the Board of Governors, the Governor, elected officials, or state employees concerned with the functions, oversight or control of the University, until one year after they no longer remain in official and active employment or appointment position within or on behalf of the University or occupy a publicly elected position with any municipal, county, state, or federal agency, except in the case of a naming pursuant to section 6.1.1.

7. Naming Facilities

7.1 Naming opportunities may include (1) new facilities that are to be constructed or acquired, (2) existing facilities that are undergoing major or minor renovations, or (3) existing facilities that are not undergoing renovations.

7.2 Selection of facility names should take into account the University’s design standards and Master Plan. Each facility should be considered in relation to the component of which it is an element and its place in the overall hierarchy. Consideration will be given to recommendations of the college/school, department or division that occupies the facility being considered. Normally, the name should be that of an individual who gained distinction in the area or areas related to usage of the facility. Exceptions may occur in cases of persons of unusual eminence or singular contributions to the University as a whole.

7.3 “Character areas,” such as campus neighborhoods and open areas, should be designated by names linking persons, events places, or activities with appropriate references to location and activities to be conducted on the site or land form.

7.4 Corporate or other organization names may be used to name any University facility. As with individuals honored with facility naming at the University, corporations or organizations proposed for facility naming should have a positive image and demonstrated integrity.

7.4.1 In the instance of corporate or organizational namings of facilities, additional due diligence should be taken to avoid any appearance of commercial influence or conflict of interest.

7.4.2 Signage reflecting a corporate or organizational naming of a facility must conform to all University signage guidelines and may not include the organization logo or other components of branding.

7.5 A gift for naming a facility ordinarily should equal:

7.5.1 At least one-half of the total project cost for constructing or acquiring the new facility; or

7.5.2 At least one-half of the total project cost for renovating an existing facility; or

7.5.3 At least one-half of the portion of the total project cost that is to be raised from the private sector if State or other funds are funding a portion of the project cost for a new or renovated existing facility; or

7.5.4 At least one-half of the replacement cost of an existing facility not undergoing renovation. Typically, but not always, three-fourths of a gift to name an existing facility not undergoing renovation will be in the form of endowment, preferably unrestricted, to the University unit.

8. Naming Programs (colleges, departments, institutes, centers, etc.) 

8.1 Corporate or other organization names will generally not be used to name a University program.

8.2 A gift for naming a program ordinarily should:

8.2.1 Be in the form of endowment for the benefit of that program, and

8.2.2 Be determined by the size, operating budget, national ranking, and visibility of the program, as well as naming amounts of peer programs in the discipline or on the University campus when available, and

8.2.3 Be substantial and significant  enabling the program to improve its competitiveness or distinction, or perhaps enabling the establishment of a new program within an existing unit.

9. Status of a Contribution at the Time of Naming

9.1 When a facility or program is to be named in consideration of a financial contribution, the gift shall have been received by the University or affiliated foundation, or its future receipt shall be assured through the appropriate signed gift agreement, before a naming action shall be taken, as follows:

9.1.1 Pledges to be paid over a period of time, typically up to five years, may be acceptable for current naming of facilities and programs when at least 50% of the pledged amount has been received and a signed pledge payment agreement for the total is also in hand. If the pledged donation is to name new construction, renovation, or other projects with cash-flow considerations, the timing of the pledge payments should be such that sufficient current dollars are available to cover project costs.

9.1.2 Irrevocable planned gifts may generate current naming of facilities and programs if current cash flow considerations are not an issue for the requesting facility or program. Irrevocable planned gifts will be credited at their present face value with particular emphasis being given to the predictability of the long-term value of the irrevocable deferred gift.

9.1.3 Combinations of revocable gifts and cash may occasionally generate current naming opportunities under limited circumstances. Each combination request must be explained fully to the Committee, and a case made for the appropriateness of the naming given the specifics of a particular gift. Particular emphasis will be given to the cash flow requirements of the requesting facility or program, the predictability of the long-term value of the revocable deferred gift component, and the predictability of its receipt.

10. Duration and Modification of Namings

10.1 Duration -  Unless otherwise agreed upon, the duration of a benefactor’s or honoree’s name on any facility or program ordinarily continues for as long as the facility or program is used in the same manner or for the same purpose for which the naming occurred. Upon demolition, replacement, substantial renovation, re-designation of purpose, or similar modification of a named facility or program, the University may deem that the naming period has concluded.

10.1.1 General Counsel will make all reasonable efforts to inform in advance the original benefactors or honorees or their surviving family members when the naming period is deemed to have concluded.

10.1.2 The University may, but is not required to, provide for the appropriate perpetuation of the previous name. Perpetuation of the original name in an equivalent naming is not required. Appropriate perpetuation of previous names may include, for instance, a plaque in or adjacent to new and renovated facilities.

10.1.3 In the event of a corporate or organization naming of a facility, if the corporate or organization name changes, the University may deem that the naming period has concluded.

10.2 Renaming - When the benefactor’s or honoree’s naming period has concluded, the facility or program may be renamed, with the original name removed, in recognition of new gifts, subject to any specific terms and conditions set forth in the original naming agreement.

10.3 Joint or Hyphenated Naming - In exceptional circumstances, additional names may be added to a facility or program in recognition of an additional gift, even if the prior benefactor’s or honoree’s naming period has not concluded, subject to any specific terms and conditions set forth in the original naming agreement. Hyphenation is one method for jointly naming a facility or program.

10.4 Term Naming - In appropriate instances, most often involving a corporate benefactor, a naming may be granted for a pre-determined fixed term. At the end of the term, the name of the facility or program shall expire but may be renewed with the same or a new name. The naming agreement should clearly specify the period of time for which the facility or program will be named.

10.5 Benefactor or Honoree Name Changes - If a benefactor or honoree requests a change to the name of a facility or program (e.g., due to divorce or corporate merger), the University will consider the request. If approved, all replacement signage and other related costs may be at the donor’s or honoree’s expense.

10.6 Revocation of Naming Approval or Conferral - In certain circumstances, the University reserves the right, on reasonable grounds, to revoke and terminate its obligations regarding a naming, with no financial responsibility for returning any received contributions to the benefactor. These actions, and the circumstances that prompt them, may apply to an approved naming that has not yet been acted upon or to a conferred naming.

10.6.1 If the benefactor’s or honoree’s reputation changes substantially so that the continued use of that name may compromise the public trust, dishonor the University’s standards, or otherwise be contrary to the best interests of the University, the naming may be revoked. However, caution must be taken when, with the passage of time, the standards and achievements deemed to justify a naming action may change and observers of a later age may deem those who conferred a naming honor at an earlier age to have erred. Namings should not be altered simply because later observers would have made different judgments.

10.6.2 If the benefactor fails to maintain payments on a pledge upon which the naming was bestowed, the naming may be revoked.

10.6.3 If a planned gift upon which the naming was bestowed does not result in the value agreed upon, the naming may be revoked.

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