A commission is leading an inclusive process to develop principles that will guide naming decisions
for buildings, professorships, programs, and other campus entities.

A fresh start

September 7, 2021

Equity & Belonging

In May, the board of trustees and the president announced the creation of an advisory commission to develop and recommend principles and criteria for the naming and renaming of campus buildings, professorships, programs, and other elements of campus named for individuals or entities.

“Our commitment to a broad, inclusive process is reflected in both the composition and charge,” they wrote in May.

The nine-member commission includes trustees and faculty, staff, student, and alumni representatives who were selected by their respective representative bodies. Christy Coleman, executive director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and John Roush, a UR trustee and president emeritus of Centre College, are co-chairs.


Survey findings will be an important resource to the commission, and we hope that you will take the time to participate.

The charge instructed the commission to develop “clear and rigorous principles” for future naming decisions, to consider recommendations that address the removal or modification of names already in use, and to recommend guidelines for honorific namings, such as whether they should be of limited duration.

The charge also instructed the commission to “ensure a transparent and inclusive process” that includes consultation with internal and external experts, review of other universities’ experiences, hosting of campus discussions and open forums, and a wide-ranging survey of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents.

The survey, which will roll out this fall, will be conducted by the education research practice of Gallup Inc., a highly respected, independent research firm. Respondents will be contacted by Gallup directly and remain anonymous. Top-line survey results will be available to the university community in the spring.

“The survey findings will be an important resource to the commission, and we hope that you will take the time to participate,” Coleman and Roush wrote in a July message.

The commission also announced plans to share information about other universities’ efforts to address naming issues and consider key questions related to naming issues. Historian and President Emeritus Ed Ayers was expected to facilitate the first session, which was tentatively scheduled for September.