Approved by: The President
History: Issued              -- January 25, 2019
Revised            --
Last Reviewed -- January 25, 2019
Related Policies: Gift Acceptance, Management, and Disposition of Philanthropic Gifts Policy
Additional References:
Responsible Official: Vice President for University Advancement tel. (202) 319-6910


I. Policy Statement


The Naming Gifts Policy helps ensure that gifts with associated naming opportunities are managed in a consistent manner, and according to established University guidelines. It is also designed to provide donors with equitable, consistent, and appropriate recognition and stewardship for their generous support, leading to lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with the University.

This Policy applies to gifts with associated naming opportunities at the University as a form of recognition for the contributions of individuals or organizations to the University.

II. General Requirements


Naming of a University asset or entity must be made in accordance with this policy and related procedures, and meet all terms of the University's Gift Acceptance, Management, and Disposition of Philanthropic Gifts Policy.

Selection of name will be done in collaboration with the donor in accordance the criteria set forth in this policy. Factors that may be considered by the University in determining the appropriateness of a name include:

  • Consistency with the mission, vision, reputation, and values of the University.
  • Whether a name may imply the University's endorsement of a political or ideological position or the use of a particular product or service.
  • Potential conflict of interest (primarily in cases of corporate or organizational naming gifts).
  • Whether the name reinforces the University's branding standards.
  • Potential conflict with existing named entities or spaces, or existing legal commitment.

A named entity may not be announced by any University unit prior to final approval as required by this policy.

III. Types of Funds with Potential Naming Opportunities


A. Endowed


Endowed funds are designed to provide perpetual support to a designated area. To establish a named endowed fund, a gift must meet the funding minimum set by the Board of Trustees. For current University named endowed fund minimums, contact the Office of the Vice President for University Advancement.

B. Non-endowed


In certain circumstances, current-use commitments can qualify for a naming opportunity. Many gifts to name physical entities are in this category.

IV. Standard Designations for Naming Gifts


A. Physical Entities


  1. Buildings and other major facilities, discrete components of buildings (wings, lecture halls, auditoriums, foyers, classrooms, laboratories, studios, offices, conference rooms, etc.), athletic facilities, and residence halls.
  2. Campus grounds, outdoor renovations, gardens, quads, athletic fields, walkways, parking facilities, and other real property.
  3. Libraries, or parts of libraries, and other collections of significant size and continuing educational, scientific, historic, artistic, or cultural value.

B. Non-Physical Entities


  1. Colleges, schools, departments, institutes, centers, programs, teaching awards, lecture series, and prizes.
  2. Academic or non-academic positions, including but not limited to deanships, professorships, directorships, and lectureships.
  3. Student support, including but not limited to scholarships, fellowships, and other student awards and prizes.

V. Naming Gift Values


A. Endowed Funds


The Vice President for University Advancement establishes the minimum gift amount required to create each type of named endowed fund in consultation with the University President and the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer (Chief Financial Officer). Such minimums are important to ensure the endowed fund provides sufficient funds to accomplish the purpose intended by the donor.

Minimum gift amounts for named endowed funds will be amended from time to time, to correspond with real costs.

For current University named endowed fund minimums, contact the Office of the Vice President for University Advancement.

B. Current-use Funds


In general, named current-use funds adhere to the same fund minimums required to create named endowed funds. Exceptions to this standard are rare, and are only granted by the Vice President for University Advancement, in consultation with the President as needed.

C. Physical Entities


Once a new building, expansion, or renovation has been approved by the University, the value of associated naming gifts will be determined by University Advancement, in consultation with the President. This applies to spaces both within and outside buildings.

Similarly, the value of associated naming gifts for existing University spaces will be determined by University Advancement, in consultation with the President.

VI. Naming Approval and Timing of Naming Activation


The Vice President for University Advancement manages the naming approval process, in consultation with the President as appropriate. Name approval may not be granted until the proposed name is known. If the donor does not wish to select the name to be applied when the gift is made, the University may accept the gift, with the name determined later, subject to the terms of approval outlined in this policy.

For binding, irrevocable gifts, a name may go into effect before the gift is paid in full, at the discretion of the Vice President for University Advancement, in consultation with necessary University parties.

For non-binding, revocable gifts, a name will not be activated until the gift is received.

VII. Duration of Naming


Naming is generally granted for the useful life of the entity unless otherwise specified in the gift agreement (and subject to the terms of revocation as set forth in this policy).

For current-use gifts, naming terms, including duration, shall be set forth in writing by the University and donor.

If circumstances change so that the purpose for which the named entity was established is or needs to be significantly altered, is no longer needed/ceases to exist, or if a physical entity is replaced, significantly renovated or no longer habitable, the University will consult with the donor if possible, or the donor's estate, if practicable, to determine an appropriate way to recognize the original naming gift.

VIII. Revocation of Naming


The University may revoke a naming if any of the following conditions occurs:

  1. The pledge obligation is unfulfilled and/or written off (if partial funding was received that is sufficient for an alternative naming opportunity, the terms of this policy shall govern any renegotiation for a suitable naming).
  2. The University determines that its association with the donor will materially damage the reputation of the University.
  3. A change in family or organizational circumstances causes the donor or other affected individual(s)/organization(s) to request a name change or revocation.

Revocation decisions shall be made by the President based on the recommendation of the Vice President for University Advancement. The President will determine whether the Board of Trustees should be consulted.

The University shall make all reasonable efforts to inform the original donor or the donor's heirs or designees in advance of any proposed revocation or change being made in accordance with current University policy.

IX. Donor Recognition


The University places great value on recognizing and showing appreciation to donors for their generosity. Therefore, in addition to providing naming rights for eligible gifts, other methods of recognition may be applied, such as those outlined below. It is highly important that recognition be equitable and consistent based on gift type, amount, and designation, and that it adhere to established University standards. All donor recognition strategy and implementation is led and managed by the Office of University Advancement.

A. Physical Recognition


Gifts to name a physical entity or college, school, department, center, or institute will typically be recognized via signage, plaques, displays, or other physical installations.

B. Other Recognition


Naming gift donors may also be recognized via other means (e.g., events and media announcements), corresponding with the type, amount, and purpose of the gift.

X. Special Circumstances and Exceptions


Any special circumstances or requests for exceptions to the requirements and standards set forth in this policy must be referred to the Vice President for University Advancement, who will determine the course of action, which may include consultation with the President.