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Building Naming Policy

1. Introduction and Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define the process through which University Buildings are named, and the criteria against which any name should be assessed, to enable the University to make clear, consistent and wise decisions.

As many naming opportunities are connected to philanthropy, this naming policy must be read in conjunction with the Policy on the Solicitation and Acceptance of Gifts and the Donor Naming Policy

There are a number of reasons for naming a building

  • to facilitate orientation and movement around the campus
  • to honour individuals for particular achievement
  • to recognise significant benefaction
  • as part of a commercial contract or agreement

and some naming implications to be considered.

2. Scope and Definitions

This policy applies to all University Buildings or facilities that may be named of any tenure and location, including those owned or occupied by wholly owned subsidiaries and joint ventures, but excluding the Science Park, and any roads, pedestrian and cycle routes within the University land ownership.

3. Building Naming Implications

1) The naming or changing the name of a building is something that should be considered thoroughly due to:

  • the difficulty of re-naming buildings within building systems (Maintenance systems such as fire panels, wiring labelling, maintenance records, compliance certificates, records of statutory bodies (eg fire service) and electronic systems beyond the control of the University (eg sat nav))
  • the cost of new signage
  • the cost of updating maps, brochures, prospectuses and other literature
  • the confusion arising from the need to re-orientate staff, students and visitors
  • the relatively small number of opportunities for naming
  • the potential embarrassment arising from changing an existing name

2) In general, the naming of buildings or facilities should not be discipline or occupant specific due to the fluid nature of occupancy. However, in circumstances where a facility is discipline specific e.g. a specialist laboratory, a name which reflects the current discipline and use may be appropriate. Equally shared facilities may be given an appropriate generic name (eg The Oculus).

3) In the same way the physical appearance of the campus and the behaviour of its staff and students can add to or detract from the institutional brand, so too can the naming of buildings, facilities and events.

4. General Principles

1) Building names should enhance the University’s brand, ensuring that names are compatible with the aims, values and goals of the university.

2) In choosing a name full consideration should be given to maximizing opportunities to address any existing imbalance in the representation of the diversity of the University community.

3) In the absence of a particular driver to do otherwise, such as honour, benefaction, or commercial agreement, the University shall continue its normal practice of naming buildings generically.

4) Names of staff, students or Independent Council Members of the University should not normally be used to name buildings, unless associated with significant achievement of the highest excellence. It would normally be expected that such achievements would have clear recognition outside the University, for example, by the award of a Nobel Prize or recognition of an equivalent status. Such names should not normally be used whilst the individual remains an active member of the University.

5) Names of people from outside the University, in the absence of a donation, can be used as building names only where they have been associated with events or achievements of major significance, such as a landmark achievement in an academic discipline or major humanitarian contribution, compatible with the university’s mission and goals. It would normally be expected that such achievements would have clear recognition outside the University.

6) Where a building is named after a person, consideration should be given to:

  • addressing any existing imbalance in the representation of the diversity of the University community.
  • whether a person’s name on a building, although strongly associated and significant to the University, creates a snapshot in time that may be less significant at a future date.
  • naming a building after a high profile Individual with whom the institution is proud to be associated, or from whom benefaction has been gained, can boost the reputation of the University or the facility, but consideration should be given to future circumstances under which the name could become less appropriate or beneficial.

7) Buildings should not be named after companies unless as part of a contractual agreement which clearly brings other benefits to the University, taking due account of the other principles. Company names have relatively short lifespans and should be avoided in order to minimise renaming and the associated costs and other difficulties.

8) The principle of naming buildings has implications which should also be considered for:

  • the naming of rooms and facilities within buildings
  • the naming of events
  • the expectations that donors may have in terms of recognition of their gifts (Where clarity in advance is of the utmost importance)
  • the management of donors and stewardship of their gifts

9) Building names must have clarity and simplicity, and be memorable, aiding orientation and navigation around the campus for students, staff and visitors. Building names which lend themselves to shortening to an acronym should be avoided.

10) Names should be distinctive. Those already used, or similar to those of existing structures such as buildings or facilities, on campus or in surrounding areas, should not be re-used.

11) Care should be taken when using names for buildings which are also associated with major events, to avoid confusion.

12) The naming of a building must comply with any legal agreements entered into by the University, for example, with funding bodies or planning authorities, or written agreements reached with benefactors.

13) All buildings are owned or occupied by the University. A building name shall not imply ownership or exclusive use by any particular department or body.

14) Building names should not cause offence to the University community or external stakeholders.

15) All relevant signage will be in keeping with the University’s Corporate Identity and relevant signage guidelines.

16) There are significant cost and safety implications of changing a building name. Unless absolutely essential it should be avoided.

5. Responsibilities

The Director of Estates is responsible for implementation of this policy, communication and compliance. It is the responsibility of all occupants, tenants and licensees to comply with this policy. The Director of Development should be consulted in advance of any negotiations about naming to protect assets which are likely to be attractive to donors.

Proposals for naming of buildings should be assessed for compliance with this policy by the Capital Space and Amenities Group and submitted for consideration by

  • The Vice-Chancellor and University Executive Board
  • The Director of Development
  • The Director of Estates and
  • any other key stakeholders as appropriate.

The Director of Estates shall then recommend a name to the University Estate and Environment Committee. Ultimate responsibility for approving naming proposals brought forward under this policy, not agreed as donor assets, lies with the University Estate and Environment Committee.

This policy shall be held by the Governance Team in the University Policy ZoneLink opens in a new window.

Upon approval the building name shall be added to all relevant systems.

Further operational processes will be established for the naming of smaller scale facilities and other assets that are neither buildings nor considered as potential donor assets.

In the rare circumstance that it might be considered essential to rename an asset to avoid bringing the University into disrepute the matter will be referred to the Secretary for Council for consideration and approval by the University Estate and Environment Committee and the Vice Chancellor.

6. Implementation

This policy will be reviewed periodically by the Capital Space and Amenities Group and any recommended changes to this naming policy will be put to those listed above for initial consideration prior to seeking approval of any amendments by the Policy Oversight Group.

Policy Document Control

Owner and Key Contact(s)

Charlotte Lewis, Head of Strategic Programmes and Governance, Estates


Date issued

March 2021


Approving body/ bodies

Policy Oversight Group – 024-POG090321


Related Statutes, Ordinances, Regulations, Policies and Guidance

  • Policy on the Solicitation and Acceptance of Gifts
  • Financial Procedure 9 - Philanthropic Gifts to the University
  • Procurement Policy
Version Control
Current Version Number: 1  
Date of Last review: March 2021  
Date of Next review: March 2022  
Expiry date: March 2024  
Amendment History
Version No. Date Summary of amendments Author