Section 315 Commemorative Naming and Renaming of Academic Units and Programs
Last Revised: 11/14/22
Responsible Office: Academic Affairs
This Policy describes the University of Maine System (UMS) process and criteria for Commemorative Naming and renaming of Academic Units and Programs. This Policy does not apply to the naming of sites and centers of a campus. For example, the UM Hutchinson Center, UMPI Houlton Higher Education Center, or UMA Saco Center. Naming of Physical Facilities does not apply to this Policy and shall be considered under Board of Trustees Policy 803 Naming and Renaming of Physical Facilities.
a. The term “academic unit or program” for the purpose of this Policy is defined as either:
i. an academic school, college, department, area of study or similar entity within a UMS University or institution. For example: School of Music, School of Marine Sciences, Maine Business School, an aviation program, or a conservation law enforcement program; or
ii. a research, public policy center, public outreach center, entity or institute with a UMS institution. For example: The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, Climate Change Institute, Cutler Institute, Southworth Planetarium or cooperative extension.
b. The term “commemorative name” or “commemorative naming” means the name or the process for naming, renaming, or amending or removing the name of an honorific, memorial or benefactor named academic unit or program.
c. The term “honoree” includes any individual or legal entity after which an academic unit or program is named, whether honorific, memorial or benefactor named.
d. The term “legal entity” includes any for-profit business or non-profit organization, foundation, trust, or any similar non-University organization.
e. The term “university” includes all universities within the UMS as well as the University of Maine School of Law (Law School).
f. The term “honorific or memorial naming” means the academic units or programs may be named to honor someone, living or dead, who embodies the University’s ideals and reputation through distinguished accomplishments that advance the University and/or the public good. Individuals currently serving on the UMS Board of Trustees or campus Boards of Visitors, current elected officials, and current University or UMS employees are not eligible for a naming opportunity except in extraordinary circumstances.
g. The term “benefactor named” means an individual or Legal Entity donor may be recognized when they have provided extraordinary philanthropy toward an academic unit or program as defined below. Each University may offer such opportunities to acknowledge donors’ roles in advancing its mission and so that as an institution the University can express its deep appreciation in a concrete manner. Naming opportunities are not transactional in nature; they are not offered “for sale.” The President will advise what is considered “extraordinary philanthropy” as related to each naming opportunity. Consideration shall be given to visibility and prestige of the academic unit or program, current market, donor interest, and campus and peer institution comparables.
2. Authority. The authority for Commemorative Naming of any Academic Unit or Program in the UMS shall be reserved to the UMS Board of Trustees, acting after receiving the proposal from the Chancellor following the process described below in the section titled Commemorative Naming Process. Honorees should be informed through any naming discussions that final approval for Commemorative Naming of all academic units or programs rest with the UMS Board of Trustees. With the exception of areas outlined in this Policy and Board Policy 803, naming of any other campus area or object rests with the President of that University or Law School.
3. Commemorative Naming Criteria. A Commemorative Name is a symbolic and public statement, reflecting the highest values and ideals of the University and its community. Generally, Academic Units or Programs are named for distinguished individuals who have made extraordinary contributions of a scholarly, professional, or public service nature related to the University’s mission. In some cases, Academic Units or Programs may be named for benefactors or donors who advance the University’s mission through significant philanthropy. While Academic Units or Programs may be informally assigned a working or administrative name at the campus level, the UMS Board of Trustees shall formally approve commemorative names for all academic units or programs, which will fall into one of two categories: honorific/memorial or benefactor named.
4. Morals Clause. The UMS depends on public goodwill to accomplish its educational mission and to attract governmental and philanthropic support. As commemorative naming of an academic unit or program is a public honor that implicitly associates the values, character and reputation of the honoree with the UMS, it must be undertaken with well-considered judgment. Therefore, all gift agreements for naming academic units or programs shall, without exception, include a morals clause. Should the UMS Board of Trustees find that a designated commemorative name brings discredit upon the University (as explained in items 7 and 8 below), the morals clause must state that the unusual circumstances leading to renaming shall not impose financial responsibilities on the UMS or the individual University affiliated with the academic unit or program at-issue.
5. Commemorative Naming Process. The process of commemorative naming of an academic unit or program must include, at a minimum, the following:
a. Before forwarding a name to the Chancellor, the President shall submit the commemorative naming request to the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs in writing after thorough consultation with appropriate campus committees and stakeholders; and after thorough due diligence to avoid potential areas of concern or conflicts of interest.
b. After receiving written approval from the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, the President will submit the naming request to the Chancellor.
c. After approval by the Chancellor, the request should be forwarded to the appropriate UMS Board of Trustees Committee for approval.
d. If approved by the UMS Board of Trustees Committee, the recommendation will be presented to the full UMS Board of Trustees for consideration.
e. For benefactor named academic units or programs, publicity associated with the gift shall not take place, such as press releases, until and unless the University has received an executed gift agreement. It is recommended that public demonstrations of naming, such as signage, not occur until at least 20% of pledge payments toward the total gift commitment have been received.
f. Exceptions to these guidelines will be brought forward by the Chancellor to the UMS Board of Trustees.
6. Duration of Commemorative Naming. The commemorative naming of an academic unit or program within an institution of higher education is the highest honor, generally granted for the useful life of the entity. The University, with UMS Board of Trustees approval, may deem the naming period concluded in certain circumstances, however, including but not limited to:
a. If the purpose for which the commemorative named academic unit or program is to be significantly altered or eliminated; or
b. The period of time of the commemorative naming specified in the gift agreement has expired.
The appropriate University representative will make all reasonable efforts to inform the original Honorees in advance of the commemorative naming period concluding. The University may provide alternate recognition as may be appropriate in honor of the original gift.
7. Removal of Commemorative Naming. The UMS Board of Trustees reserves the right to remove a commemorative name of an Academic Unit or Program under extraordinary circumstances when the continued use of the honoree’s name would compromise the public trust and reflect adversely upon the university and/or UMS and its reputation.
Additionally, in the case of a benefactor named Academic Unit or Program, the UMS Board of Trustees reserves the right to remove a commemorative name if the Honoree fails to fulfill the terms of the gift that is recognized by the name. The appropriate University representative will make all reasonable efforts to inform the original Honorees in advance of the commemorative naming period concluding. The University may provide alternate recognition as appropriate in honor of the original gift.
8. Commemorative Name Change or Removal Process. The change or removal of a commemorative name of an Academic Unit or Program must not be undertaken lightly. The process must be approached with respect for the considered judgments of the past, especially when the original naming was decided-upon by the contemporaries of an honoree, and with self-awareness by the individuals asked to consider removing a name, of the fallibility of their own judgments. The process must include, at a minimum, the following:
a. Proposals for change or removal of commemorative names shall be initiated by the President with which the academic unit or program is affiliated, appointing a team or task force to conduct a campus-level review. The review should solicit perspectives from diverse stakeholders and public comment and summarize the findings, including the grounds for change or removal of the commemorative name, in a formal, written report to the respective President.
b. After receiving written approval from the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, the President will submit the request to the Chancellor.
c. After approval by the Chancellor, the request will be forwarded to the appropriate UMS Board of Trustees Committee for approval.
d. If approved by the appropriate UMS Board of Trustees Committee, the recommendation will be presented to the full UMS Board of Trustees for consideration.
e. Upon the removal of a commemorative name, the name may revert to the general name of the academic unit or program. Any future commemorative naming will follow the process outlined in this Policy.
Board Policy 711 Named Chairs and Professorships
Board Policy 803 Naming and Renaming of Physical Facilities