General University Policies Manual


On occasion, Oregon State University seeks to recognize the efforts and contributions of individuals by the naming of buildings, portions of buildings, rooms, fixed furniture, trees, open spaces, fields, streets, and equipment, collectively referred to hereafter as "property." This policy establishes a uniform and consistent procedure to gain university approval and to record these namings for all university property on and off campus. University approval is required before the naming of any university property.

I. Intent

The primary intent of the property naming process is to allow the University to recognize the importance and/or efforts of an individual to the University or of someone who represents the ideals of the University.

Even though naming of buildings is primarily a university-wide issue, the building's use, history, and present and past occupants should be considered when deliberating upon the appropriateness of a possible name. Examples of this concept are as follows:

  • it might be inappropriate to name a building which houses an agriculture use after an athletic coach;
  • it might be appropriate to name a building after a president who was instrumental in bringing about the construction of the building, or if the building were occupied by a department that shared some connection to the president.

As a general rule, the building name holds more importance or represents greater University recognition than the naming of a portion of the building, such as a suite of rooms or a single room. This hierarchy should be considered: first, presidents; then, provosts, deans, and department heads. As an example, an individual room would be named for a department head, while the building itself might be named for a dean.

II. Policies

A. Selection of Names

Oregon Administrative Rules, Chapter 580-50-025 "Naming Buildings After Persons," does not allow the naming of any building or structure after a living person. It allows "exceptions to be considered or made if a donor contributes a substantial share of the cost of construction or for other unusually meritorious cause." Those honored with such a naming might be:

  • staff or faculty members, or persons not connected to the University who have contributed significantly to the social, academic, scholarly, research, or political life of the University;
  • persons not connected with the University who have contributed, in one way or another, to the growth and development of the institution;
  • an illustrious alumni member; or
  • an outstanding states-person, educator, or scholar who may or may not be connected to the University or the State of Oregon.

Exceptions to this University Property Naming Policy are allowed only when specifically approved by the President. Namings for living person(s) must be approved by the State Board of Higher Education after receiving approval of the OSU President.

B. Functional Naming of Buildings

The use of functional names for major buildings should be avoided. Over time, functions within a building will change and the name could result in confusion.

Smaller buildings or farm buildings housing functions of general need to the campus or community may be referred to with functional names such as Parking Office, Security Office, and poultry sheds.

Some smaller buildings may be referred to by occupant name when principally occupied by one program, such as the various cultural centers.

Some buildings will be designated by a combination of their functional and dedicated names. Examples might be Plageman Student Health Center, the library, the administration building, gymnasiums, etc.

In cases where functions change within the building, the name will remain with the building and the functional name will be deleted. Departmental or program identification may appear on the exterior building sign only as controlled and outlined in the Exterior Campus Sign Design Guidelines. Such departmental or program identification may appear only on an exterior sign that also contains the dedicated building name. Names of buildings and facilities with functional names may be amended to reflect future dedications.

C. Namings Other Than Buildings

Departmental libraries, computer laboratories, and similar areas should be given functional names, not fixed to specific locations. Space on campus is a university resource and may be reallocated from time to time to best meet the needs of the University. The naming should be worded to allow the reallocation of movable property as appropriate. Any such modification or reallocation will be reviewed by the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer and the appropriate dean and department representatives with respect to the original naming.

D. Modification or Relocation of Property and Names

As modifications are made to property over time, situations may occur where it is in the best interest of the University to relocate, modify, or reallocate named university property. In the event modifications to named property are required or recommended, appropriate college deans and university administrators will be involved in early planning. This is to insure that the original purpose of the naming and the donor's wishes, if built with private funds, are preserved as appropriate. These occurrences underscore the importance of obtaining university recognition of all naming.

In the event building names are modified or shifted between structures, approval must be obtained using this policy and process. Example: both the Kerr and Weatherford names have shifted between buildings several times.

E. Sign Design Guidelines

All interior and exterior signage on campus will conform to the Interior and Exterior Campus Sign Design Guidelines. These two guideline documents are designed to be companion documents to this naming policy. The guidelines control the location, size, materials, and text of interior and exterior campus signage.

Off-campus property signage shall also have the name of the institution incorporated into the name.

F. Plaques Commemorating Namings

The text of all plaques will be forwarded by Facilities Services to the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer for review and approval. Plaques on rocks, posts or trees are not permitted.

G. Ownership of Gifted or Purchased Items

All named property is property of the State of Oregon and Oregon State University.

H. Suggested Namings and Restrictions

The following restrictions are suggested practices. The word "hall" will be used for principal permanent buildings. Larger residence halls will be referred to as "halls" rather than dorms. The word "center" will preferably not be used for a single building, but only for a complex of buildings all supporting a single discipline or function. The word "building" may be used in combination with a functional name. With the precedent of the Acona, it is desirable that Native American names be used for future ships.

III. Authority

Requests for approval of naming should be transmitted to Facilities Services from the appropriate dean or vice provost. Following receipt of the request, Facilities Services will transmit the request and supporting documents to the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer, who will convene the Property Names Committee to review and forward a recommendation to the President. Final approval of property naming rests with the President.

A. Review and Approval of Naming

Because of the growing public scrutiny of naming, the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer will review and advise the President of any concerns raised by any proposed naming. Individuals may not commit the University to namings before formal acceptance by the President. Requests for a specific naming must be submitted as outlined in this document for review and approval by the President. Facilities Services will forward a copy of sign and dedication requests to the Property Names Committee for review and approval.

B. Establishment and Duties of the Property Names Committee

A permanent Property Names Committee is established by this policy. The chief function of the Committee will be to insure uniformity and consistency of names on the campus and to make suggestions for names when requested by the President. The Committee will be appointed by and report directly to the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer.

The Committee will consist of the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer (chair), the University Facilities Planner (Facilities Services), the proposer of a new name, and a representative(s) of the occupants of the building to be named.

The Committee will:

  1. consider names proposed and apprise interested parties of the policy for the selection of names;
  2. act as the formal conduit for names to be submitted, researched, and forwarded for recommendation;
  3. (may) recommend a specific name in response to a naming opportunity;
  4. maintain records of approved dedications and building names;
  5. forward notice of building dedications to the State Board of Higher Education once approved by the President;
  6. receive and maintain brief biographical data and a statement as to why the person named is so honored; and
  7. notify the requester of the dedication of the approval status once the President has acted upon the request.

The Committee chair may act administratively on the review and recommendation of minor building and facilities naming and dedications through the process above without convening the full committee.

C. Submittal to the Chief Institutional Advancement Officer

  1. A formal letter of request should be submitted by the dean or vice provost with a statement of the nature of the request. The letter should discuss the importance of the naming to the University; the nature of the gifting and/or meritorious activity; and other conditions, concerns, or impacts of the naming. In the case of a naming representing a living person, the magnitude of gifting and meritorious activity should be well delineated. Plans for any plaque, funding, and maintenance should be identified. There is no special form that must be submitted with this letter.
  2. A resume or discussion of the individual(s) being honored should be included.
  3. Letters of reference or recommendation from individuals should be included. There is no minimum or maximum number of recommendations required. Petitions may also be submitted to show those in favor of the naming.