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Naming Committee Bylaws and Process

Purpose

The Naming Committee is the standing university committee that considers, guides and directs the naming of all new campus facilities, roads, and other public spaces on campus where funding is not associated with private support. The committee is chaired by the vice president for Communications and Marketing. Members generally comprise faculty and/or staff who have responsibilities relating to campus operations, marketing, construction and development, combined with members who have a deep knowledge of the history of George Mason University. The chair recommends and appoints Naming Committee members.

Committee Operations

The Naming Committee’s role is advisory in nature. It makes recommendations to the Executive Council.

The Naming Committee will maintain and manage the inventory of campus properties that have not been named.

In addition, the committee has the ability to create and recommend “categories” of appropriate names to ensure standardization of names of like entities on campus. The use of categories, or themes, enhances identification of functions and ties discrete areas together. Presidents Park is a primary example.

Over the years, four general categories have evolved.

First, the university uses names of Virginia rivers and waterways for most of its road systems. In addition, the university has also used Virginia regions and geographic features extensively in the naming of dormitories and other residential areas. Therefore, one category is geography or regional names.

A second category is naming by function and description, such as buildings that were named Enterprise, Innovation, and Discovery, or roads with descriptive names, such as Patriot Circle or George Mason Circle.

A third category is naming related to George Mason, the man. This would include the history of his contributions to Virginia and the country, as well as other names directly related to the university's namesake. For example, the faculty/staff housing development is named “Masonvale.”

The fourth category, which is generally understood to be solely within the purview of the Board of Visitors, is naming a facility after an individual or person. John T. Hazel Hall on the Arlington Campus is one example of this category.

Guidelines

The committee uses the following guidelines to avoid recommending any names that could be potentially controversial or cause public relations problems for the university:

  • It will not choose the name of a person who is still living, unless the naming is tied with a philanthropic gift or it is an honorary naming opportunity in recognition for an individual’s unselfish and exemplary service to the university. The naming of spaces tied to a philanthropic gift are not recommended by the Naming Committee. Naming opportunities tied to a gift are recommended by the Gift Acceptance Committee as is stated in University Policy Number 1123, Section VIII. Naming Opportunities.
  • Only an individual that is fully retired and no longer on the university’s payroll may be considered for honorary naming opportunities. Honorary naming decisions for previous employees will be based on a combination of the following:
    • amount of years at the university;
    • responsible for the creation of university programs, centers, etc.;
    • advocacy for the university;
    • leadership;
    • exemplary scholarship;
    • death (of a beloved faculty member whether untimely or after a long illness); and
    • giving (at a lower level than other naming opportunities)
  • It will not propose a name for a building for historical figures that realistically can never be changed given the nature of the individual being honored. Examples are Ronald Reagan Hall, or Martin Luther King Hall.
  • It will be sensitive to the diverse campus constituency when considering non-donor family nam *In a few conversations (most recently, when we were considering names for Rogers and Whitetop) we discussed the challenge of providing family names for buildings (not connected with donor funded buildings). Some of the historic families in the state were also slave owners -- and that may provoke reactions from the campus, student community.
  • Emergency Response 911 criteria will be considered, and the committee will defer to the appropriate county and city jurisdiction
  • For regional campuses and sites, the committee will avoid duplication of the existing names of roads, buildings and other major facil Not only are university branding, identification and reputation issues an important consideration, but there are logistical issues: Deliveries, service and 911 responses would be problematic with duplication of an existing name.

The committee will use the following general guidelines to determine what the modifier or denominator of the proposed name will be when naming a new structure on campus.

  • Buildings: Multipurpose facilities, where there is a mixture of facilities within one structu An example is the Science and Technology campus’ Occoquan Building, which has classrooms, research laboratories, computer laboratories, faculty and staff offices, a bookstore, food service, assembly rooms, a library, etc.
  • Halls: Either academic buildings or dormitory buildings. Examples of academic buildings are Robinson Hall, Enterprise Hall, Innovation Hall, and Bull Run Hall. Examples of dormitories are all those in university Commons, such as Dickinson Hall, Carroll Hall, Dominion Hall, and Commonwealth Hall.
  • Centers: Public assembly buildings, often open to large groups of visitors and invited guests that are mixed with university usages. Examples are the Center for the Arts, the Patriot Center, the Freedom Center, the Aquatic and Fitness Center, and the Johnson Cente
  • Honorary Naming Opportunities: Buildings that are older and that are not already identified as potential donor-funded naming opportunities could be named in honor of a fully retired employee who has made an impact on the University, especially if they had an impact on what goes on in the building or related to such. Examples are East Building, West Building, Student Union I, and Student Union II.

(These guidelines have been adhered to generally in all new recommendations, although it is important to note that anything named prior to the formation of the Naming Committee and these guidelines was not considered for renaming.)

Naming Proposal Submission Procedure

The Naming Committee’s Blackboard site is its official communication tool for internal audiences. All naming submissions must be submitted using the official submission form housed on the committee’s blackboard site.

Meetings

The quorum for regular meetings and any special meetings of the committee shall be 60 percent of the total membership. If a quorum is not present, the chair must adjourn the meeting immediately and no business may be transacted. There shall be no voting by proxy.

Committee Recommendations

It is the committee’s responsibility to communicate its recommendation for a new name of a campus entity to appropriate parties when necessary. The committee shall gather input and advice from the existing tenants of the facilities under consideration for naming, whether they are academic, service or administrative in nature. However, the committee’s recommendations will be based on university-wide considerations, including public relations, safety, community relations, reputation and branding, as well as the relationship of the facility or road to the campus where it is located.

Approval Process:

All Naming Committee recommendations will be communicated by the chair to the Executive Council. If necessary, the vice president for facilities will also be asked to discuss proposed names, primarily of campus roads, with local government entities. The Executive Council has the authority to approve the recommendation or provide an alternate name for the Naming Committee to review. Any issues or concerns about proposed names will be taken back to the Naming Committee for further deliberation. The committee may then provide an alternate recommendation, or take the appropriate steps to address the issue or concern before moving forward with a final recommendation. The Executive Council can determine whether or not a naming recommendation needs approval from the Board of Visitors (BOV).

Naming Decision Communication Procedure:

It is the committee’s responsibility to communicate the Executive Council’s approval and, when required, the Board of Visitor’s approval for a new name of a campus entity to appropriate parties for implementation of name changes as outlined in Addendum 1, Tasks to Complete after a Building Name is approved.