Principles

University of Richmond Naming Principles
Adopted by the Board of Trustees
March 26, 2022

  1. Naming a building, professorship, program, or other entity is one of the highest and most visible honors the University can bestow. Those honored with a naming should uphold and advance the University’s mission, values, and aspirations. The University should undertake appropriate due diligence about a potential namesake prior to conferring the honor of naming to ensure that the namesake represents the University’s values and a commitment to its educational mission.
  1. The array of namings at the University should represent and reflect the diversity of the institution’s full history and the community we are today.
  1. The University, through its Board of Trustees, also reserves the right to remove names, subject to existing legal obligations associated with a name.
  1. The University must have a clear and transparent process for its naming decisions and for consideration and resolution of questions relating to the removal of names (“de-naming”). The same principles/criteria should apply to all decisions relating to naming, de-naming, and re-naming, whether the object named is a building, space, professorship, scholarship fund, or other entity.
  1. Reasons for which the University might confer a naming in honor of an individual or entity include the following:
    1. To express the values of the institution;
    2. To recognize especially meaningful contributions to the life of the University, including significant philanthropic support of an institutional priority to advance the University’s excellence, or exemplary teaching, research, and scholarship;
    3. To recognize major milestones in the University’s development and progress;
    4. To recognize excellence in a particular field especially germane to the University and the entity named.

      The University may also choose to employ descriptive, conceptual, geographic, or otherwise generic names rather than names of individual persons or entities.
  1. No building, program, professorship, or other entity at the University should be named for a person who directly engaged in the trafficking and/or enslavement of others or openly advocated for the enslavement of people.
  1. Individuals may be disqualified from being honored with a naming at the University if they have been found to have engaged in significant wrongdoing or misconduct that constitutes a serious violation of the University’s mission and values or is materially damaging to the University’s reputation. Such significant wrongdoing or misconduct may include a significant and material role in the promotion of segregation, eugenics, or other forms of discrimination based on protected class, as legally defined, or conviction of a felony. In considering questions of de-naming under this principle, the following should be considered:
    1. The specific evidence for and the nature, scope, and effects of the wrongdoing;
    2. The overall life, contributions, and legacy of the namesake, including service to the University; the presumption against de-naming is weaker when an individual’s repugnant or offensive behavior is a central part of his or her legacy;
    3. Whether the namesake expressed regret and made restitution for the wrongdoing;
    4. The social and political context in which the wrongdoing occurred, though that context alone does not necessarily justify an ongoing commitment by the University to retain a name;
    5. The context in which the original naming occurred, the University’s rationale for conferring the honor, and the degree to which the wrongdoing was known and considered at that time.
  1. If the primary use of a named facility changes, or the facility undergoes renovation so extensive that it constitutes reconstruction, the University may rename the facility or space. If a named facility is demolished, the University is not obligated to transfer the name to another facility or entity.
  1. The University’s educational mission requires specific action to preserve the historical record when the institution engages the question of potential removal of a name (particularly in relation to Principles 6, 7, and 8 above):
    1. In instances in which a decision is made to remove a name for any reason, an explanation of the original name, the rationale for the original naming, and the reasons for its removal should be preserved and accessible. In all cases, this historical account should be full and objective, accurately communicating the namesake’s life and principal legacy, including contributions to the University.
    2. In instances in which a decision is made to retain a name, an account of the (reasonable) concerns that arose with respect to the name, the information considered, and the rationale for the decision to retain the name should likewise be preserved and accessible.
  1. The University’s Board of Trustees retains final authority for decisions about namings, de-namings, and re-namings at the University.