November 26, 2006
Naming Rights for College Buildings, Lockers, and More
One of the interesting elements of being in the naming business is how educational institutions work out naming rights to buildings on campus. We all know that serious donors get the first chance, but there can often be more to simply putting down money for a building and getting your name over the door.
Recently, a blog posted on the Commonwealth Times, the online portal for Virginia Commonwealth University, looked at the issue of corporate naming rights at institutions of higher learning. The new Business School building there is selling name rights starting from $5,000 and going all the way to $2.5 million.
Once a donor has given money to the University, they are presented with a correspondingly long list of naming opportunities - $5,000 can give you the right to name a faculty office, $200,000 gets your name over a 200 seat classroom. Once you get up to the $2+ million level, you start to be able to name entire facilities.
The Un-Zone blog has discussed this trend, pointing out that smaller elements of buildings have been overlooked: what about clocks? Floor tiles? HVAC Systems? Bathrooms?
But this is not quite as crazy as one would think. Penn State’s new Lorenzo Wrestling Complex offered donors the right (at $5,000 a pop) to put their names above lockers. The Philip Merrill College of Journalism (named after a big donor) has recently named a new building after James L Knight, the founder of Knight Ridder.
Bill Gates gave $25 million to a computer center at Harvard that he did not visit for ten years, while another Harvard dropout, Edwin Land, gave funds for the science center to be shaped like a giant Polaroid camera, something that the university has tried to forget.
Yale University, for its part, has owned up to the slave holding past of John C. Calhoun, whose name is on one of their residential colleges.
Shaping buildings after the inventions of large donors is nothing new, however. The Library Pariah points out that Bayside University has agreed to install a massive Chutes and Ladders style slide from the top of the library to the quad to recognize the gift of a “distant heir to the Bradley side of the famous Milton Bradley gaming empire.” The slide will also serve as an emergency exit.
Well, not really...
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