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Naming of Physical University Assets Policy

Classification number LCG 1141
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Board of Governors
Policy owner Vice-President, External Relations and Advancement
Approval date December 7, 2016
Review date December 2019
Last updated Editorial Amendment, February 18, 2020
Supersedes Naming of Physical University Assets, June 2011


The naming of a physical asset at Ontario Tech is one of the ways in which the university can pay tribute to and recognize the generous philanthropic donations and distinguished service contributions that have been made by individuals and organizations. A named physical asset reflects the values and ideals that guide the university’s work, strengthens its ties with the local, provincial and broader national and international communities, and serves as an inspiration to present and future generations of students, faculty, staff and the wider public. At the same time, the number of individuals and groups who would warrant consideration of this honour far exceeds the opportunities available. Therefore, it is incumbent on the university to assess each naming opportunity in a judicious and consistent manner, and in a way that serves the strategic goals and longer term interests of the community. The policy on the Naming of Physical University Assets is designed to define the principles and criteria that would lead to the naming of university assets and the procedures associated with this important activity.


The University values and recognizes individuals who have made distinguished contributions to the intellectual, social and cultural life of the university and the broader community, as well as those who make possible through generous philanthropic donations the construction and renewal of buildings, facilities, and property, and the acquisition of artefacts. By the granting of named recognition, the university can acknowledge these significant contributions in a way that is meaningful and enduring.

Naming recognition would normally be granted to honour a significant gift from a benefactor or to individuals or groups in order to commemorate exceptional contributions they have made to the university or broader communities. Each naming opportunity must be carefully assessed on its merits and be found to:

  • Contribute to the special mission, mandate, and strategic priorities of the university while preserving its autonomy, integrity and academic freedoms;
  • Serve to advance the interests of the university, its programs and activities, and have a positive impact on its reputation and profile over the longer term; and
  • Be consistent with the University’s Gift Acceptance policy and other relevant policies, procedures and agreements of the university.

Named recognition may be granted in perpetuity or for a limited period of time (time-restricted). If the named recognition is time-restricted, the arrangements may be reviewed prior to the end of that period, and renewed at the university’s discretion.

Named recognition may be granted to faculty and staff for philanthropic donations; however, in all but exceptional circumstances, naming recognition would not be granted to a faculty or staff member for outstanding service while he/she remains an employee of the university.

Regardless of any other provision set forth in this policy, no naming will be approved or, once approved, be continued if it is found that such action may harm the reputation of the university or interfere with the achievement of its goals and priorities. In addition, no name will be approved that will imply the university’s endorsement of a partisan political or ideological position or of a commercial product. This does not preclude the naming of an individual who has previously held public office or with an individual or company that manufactures or distributes commercial products.


This policy applies to the granting of named recognition to physical assets at the university, including:

  • Buildings, complexes of buildings, or substantial parts of buildings (wings, rooms, laboratories);
  • Facilities that are part of the outside environment of the university, including roads, walkways, playing fields, parks, gardens, agricultural or forestry plots, etc.;
  • Facilities that are part of inside space, including library/reading rooms, laboratories, seminar rooms, galleries, recreational courts, lounges, etc.;
  • Facilities that are made up of portable items, including library collections, collections of works of art and/or artefacts;
  • Memorial or tribute indicators, which include plaques, medallions or other markers usually in association with such features as trees, benches or small monuments; and
  • Any other physical asset as the university may from time to time see fit to name in order to recognize philanthropic donations or service contributions.

Naming recognition associated with the establishment and allocation of endowed chairs, professorships and lectureships, student awards and scholarships, and faculties, institutes, and programs are guided by separate policies and procedures.


The Board of Governors shall have ultimate authority to accept or decline any proposal to name a physical asset, to renew, withdraw or discontinue a designated name, or to transfer a name to another physical university asset as appropriate. The Strategy and Planning Committee of the Board shall have delegated authority for carrying out this responsibility on its behalf, and for identifying naming opportunities, establishing and reviewing naming thresholds for assets, and for ensuring that the application of this policy and associated procedures with respect to donor recognition are consistently and appropriately applied.

In accordance with this policy, no university officer, faculty or department is authorized to name or affix a title, plaque, inscription or other signage to any physical asset without prior approval of the Strategy and Planning Committee. New buildings, facilities and properties will be named by their street address, faculty or primary function until such time as a naming opportunity is available in consultation with the director, Communications and Marketing.

A database of all naming opportunities and an inventory of named facilities shall be maintained and updated by the Advancement Office. The database will be developed in consultation with the vice-presidents and faculty deans. Assets will be reviewed annually and reconfirmed by the Strategy and Planning Committee of the Board annually.


  1. Proposals

    Individuals contemplating a naming opportunity are to consult the vice-president, External Relations and Advancement for information and expertise. The vice-president, External Relations and Advancement will consult with the Office of the Board of Governors regarding all proposed naming opportunities.

    Proposals should be forwarded to the vice-president, External Relations and Advancement who shall make an initial determination, in consultation with the provost and vice-president Academic, as to whether the proposed naming conforms to this policy and any other agreements that may be in place concerning specific spaces, is otherwise appropriate, and is of sufficient merit.

    Proposals for named recognition shall be made in writing to the Board of Governors through the Advancement Office. Proposals must be accompanied by a brief statement that summarizes the significant features of the proposed naming designation, the ways in which it would contribute to the mission, mandate, and strategic priorities of the university, and the continuing impact it will have on the university.

  2. Approval

    The naming of buildings, substantial parts of buildings or large exterior spaces shall be approved by the Board of Governors. Such approval will ordinarily be given on behalf of the Board of Governors by the Strategy and Planning Committee of the Board. Prior to the consideration of naming proposals by this committee, notice will be sent on a confidential basis to all Governors, in order to enable any member to comment. Comments will be considered by the Strategy and Planning Committee and the Chair of the Board of Governors will have the authority to require that any proposal whose propriety has been objected to by a member be deferred to the next meeting of the Board of Governors.

    All other named recognition approved by the Strategy and Planning Committee of the Board or by the president will be reported to the Board of Governors for information purposes.

    The vice-president, External Relations and Advancement, in accordance with this policy, the Gift Acceptance policy and in consultation with the president and the provost and vice-
    president, Academic, may approve the names of all other things such as individual rooms and smaller interior spaces.

    Named recognition may be granted by title-naming or support-naming. In title-naming, the honorary name shall precede the functional name of an item (e.g., the John Smith Auditorium). In support-naming the honorary name succeeds the functional name of an item (e.g., Classroom generously supported by John Smith).

    If the circumstances under which the named facility or object are subsequently altered in a substantial way (e.g., due to new construction or a change in purpose or focus), the Board Strategy and Planning Committee will identify an alternative opportunity that respects and honours the original intent of the gift, in consultation with the subject where possible.

    In the case of philanthropic donations, formal recognition will commence once 35 to 50 per cent of the pledged amount has been received by the university.

    All physical displays which accompany the named recognition must conform to existing procedures and practices with respect to physical plant signage (i.e. office name/room number/classroom signage). Under no circumstances will external corporate or organizational logos be permitted on any recognition signage.

  3. Fundraising

    In the establishment of objectives for a fundraising campaign, naming opportunities and the associated levels of support may be established in advance by the Advancement Office in consultation with university officers, faculties and departments. These opportunities will be reviewed by the Strategy and Planning Committee of the Board and may be used to advise potential benefactors that the support will be recognized by naming, subject to approvals and decisions being consistent with this policy.

    All naming proposals must be discussed with the stewardship officer prior to being disseminated to potential benefactors, or entered in a gift agreement, to ensure that the naming opportunity is available and at an appropriate recognition level for the proposed donation.

    In all such cases, individuals representing the university will make clear to potential benefactors that naming is subject to the following;

    i. The proposal to name must be approved according to the university’s established criteria and process.

    ii. Where the support does not meet the full cost of the project, the naming is subject to completion of satisfactory funding arrangements, and the naming will take place only after that is achieved. If the university is unable to proceed, the potential benefactors will be entitled to redirect or withdraw their contributions.

  4.  Non-fulfillment of pledge

    In cases where the donor does not meet the requirements as set out in the gift agreement, such as defaulting on the payment of pledges over a five-year period, the naming opportunity may be withdrawn. A new opportunity, equalling a value of the total amount received over the pledge period, will be provided in lieu of the original naming opportunity. This shall be done in consultation with the Strategy and Planning Committee of the Board and the president, and in cases of a building, shall be done in consultation with the Board of Governors.