This policy applies to the naming of academic units at UW institutions. An academic unit for purposes of this policy is defined as a school, college, department, program, center, or similar unit within a UW institution. Naming of academic buildings shall be considered under the provisions of RPD 19-14, “Naming of University Facilities and Land.”
The purpose of this policy is to provide Board oversight of namings that may affect the reputational interests of the UW System by providing criteria to be applied when naming academic units (for example, schools and colleges).
It is the preference of the UW System Board of Regents to commemorate individuals’ contributions to academic excellence through the naming of scholarships, programs, professorships, and other similar actions. However, the Board recognizes that the naming of academic units may at times be an appropriate means of recognizing the service, dedication to academic excellence, or financial contributions made by an individual, corporation, or other legal entity.
Academic units under this policy may be named for individuals or, in exceptional and rare instances, for corporations or other legal entities. For the purposes of this policy, other legal entities include any for-profit business or non-profit organization, foundation, trust, or any similar non-university organization.
School or College
Naming of a college or school within a UW institution is subject to prior approval by the Board of Regents. A request to name or dedicate a college or school shall be made by the Chancellor of the institution. A Chancellor shall submit support for such a request, demonstrating consideration of the factors below, to the UW System Office for Academic and Student Affairs for review. Any proposed naming agreement for a school or college shall be reviewed by the UW System Office of General Counsel to ensure compliance with this policy and any applicable law.
Department, Program or Center
The Chancellor of each institution is delegated the authority to name departments, programs, and centers, or other academic units other than colleges or schools.
For any naming of an academic unit under this policy, including those delegated to Chancellors, the following factors shall be considered:
- Whether the individual, corporation or other legal entity has promoted the purpose and mission of the UW System as expressed in s. 36.01, Wis. Stats.;
- Whether the reputation of the individual, corporation or other legal entity may reflect negatively or adversely upon the UW System or a UW System institution;
- Whether the individual, corporation or other legal entity is in compliance with any agreements with the UW System or a particular UW System institution;
- Whether any existing agreements prohibit changing or adding a name to an academic unit;
- Whether there is a plan for continued recognition of an individual, corporation or other legal entity for whom an academic unit was previously named;
- Whether the naming represents a potential conflict of interest, appearance of commercial influence, or could compromise the institution’s academic or research autonomy; and
- Whether the naming is compliant with applicable laws if the naming will occur in a building financed with tax-exempt governmental bonds.
A naming for an individual shall consider whether the individual was employed by the UW System or has served as an elected or appointed public official. Normally, a waiting period of at least five years must have elapsed from the time the individual’s UW employment ended or the individual left public office. Exceptions may be considered under certain circumstances, including when the individual is no longer living or a gift requests the naming.
Use of Logos and Other Branding
Any individual, corporation or other legal entity for which an academic unit is named is prohibited from using the name, logo, or other component of branding of the UW System or any UW institution as a commercial endorsement or for advertising. University exterior or way-finding signage shall not include the logo or other components of branding, with the exception of the corporation or legal entity’s name.
Duration of Naming
Names shall be for a specified number of years. The term of the agreement shall be determined on a case-by-case basis, which may vary depending on the level of support received by the UW institution from a donor.
Removing or Changing a Name
In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to remove or change a name assigned to an academic unit. The UW System Board of Regents retains the authority to remove or change a name of a college or school if the name presents a risk to the institution’s reputation, if the donor or sponsor fails to meet the financial obligations of the naming agreement, or as otherwise deemed necessary by the Board. The Board also retains the authority to remove or change a name of any academic unit named for a corporation or other legal authority. UW Chancellors retain the authority to remove or change the name of a department, program, or center, or academic unit other than a college and school in cases where the academic unit is subject to approval by a UW Chancellor as allowed under this policy.
If the name of a corporation or other legal entity changes during the term of a naming agreement with a UW institution, the UW System Board of Regents may exercise its discretion to maintain, change, or remove the name.
Any naming agreement between the UW System and an individual, corporation, or other legal entity shall include provisions describing the UW System Board of Regents or UW Chancellor’s authority to remove or change a name.
Oversight, Roles, and Responsibilities
The Board of Regents is responsible for considering requests to name colleges and schools within the UW System and for naming other academic units except where delegated to chancellors.
The UW System Office for Academic and Student Affairs and the Office of General Counsel shall ensure all of the requirements of this policy are met prior to submitting an institutional request to name a college or school to the Board of Regents, as required under this policy.
UW Chancellors shall ensure all of the requirements of this policy are met prior to naming departments, programs, and centers, or other academic units other than colleges or schools.
Related Regent Policies and Applicable Laws
- Regent Policy Document 19-14, “Naming of University Facilities and Lands”
History: Res. 10788, adopted 12/08/2016, created Regent Policy Document 4-19. Res. 11382, adopted 02/07/2020, amended RPD 4-19.
SYS 102, Policy on University of Wisconsin System Array Management: Program Planning, Delivery, Review, and Reporting (formerly ACIS 1.0)
[UW System Administrative policies are included for reference and are separate from Regent Policy Documents adopted by the Board.]