Amherst College: Naming Guidelines

January 2020

Policy Statement

In recognition of generous support of or devoted service to the College, Amherst has named buildings, programs, positions, lectures and spaces on the campus since its earliest days.  The details of naming a building, program, position, scholarship, lecture, or space on campus will be determined by the Gift Acceptance Committee (GAC) with consultation from the Chief of Campus Operations, the relevant Senior staff member and the Director of Donor Relations, as appropriate.  The GAC, in consultation with the President, must approve any naming proposals that vary from the requirements of this policy.

Physical Spaces

Gift minimums for buildings and spaces vary with the facility being named.  For new buildings, 50 percent of the philanthropic cost of the building will be the minimum level needed to name. In addition, the following factors will be considered when determining the naming levels for new and existing spaces: the value of the space to the College and to prospective donors; actual cost to build, renovate and/or operate the space; the uniqueness of the naming opportunity; and the length of life of the space. Generally, the gift will be used to support construction, renovation and operating expenses of the facility, or if the facility is not under construction or renovation, the gift will support the general purposes as designated by the College.

In the event that a donor and the College come to an agreement to build a facility that is not part of the College’s master plan and/or is not a priority facility for the College at the time of the commitment, naming may be considered in recognition of gifts amounting to one-hundred percent (100%) or more of the cost of building the facility.

The physical naming of a space (e.g., the installation of a plaque) will be made upon receipt of a written pledge for the amount required, provided the pledge period extends no longer than five years, and 50 percent of the pledge.  

Programs, Positions, Scholarships and Other Named Funds

An endowed or current fund can be broadly restricted to any of the College’s general purposes or fundraising priorities.  General purposes include financial aid, student life, instruction, the library, the Amherst Fund, athletics, administration or facilities. The list of general purposes may change as the priorities of the College shift. A named fund with a specific preference must meet a minimum threshold and be approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee.

In order to name a fund, a donor must sign a gift agreement detailing the donor's and the College’s understanding of the name of the fund, its purpose, and administration, and send the College an initial pledge payment.

The announcement and appointment of a named position or program will be made upon receipt of a written pledge for the amount required, provided the pledge period extends no longer than five years, and 50 percent of the pledge.

If the endowed position or program is intended for a new position or program at the college, the naming shall occur upon receipt of the full amount of the gift. 

Naming agreements will contain the following provisions:

  • Should the full amount not be received by the conclusion of the pledge period, the College will have the right to remove the donor’s recognition and offer the donor an alternate naming opportunity appropriate to the giving level.
  • If at any time the Board of Trustees of the College reasonably determines in good faith that the donor’s activities do not reflect the colleges standards or values and impact the  College’s public image in a material manner or in a material conflict with the College’s mission, the Board of Trustees will have the right to terminate naming rights; provided, however, that before such action is taken, each donor will be given the opportunity to address a representative of the College concerning its decision.

In addition, physical spaces will have the additional provisions:

  • In the event that the building must be demolished because of obsolescence or other circumstances within 50 years of the agreement, the donor’s contribution will be acknowledged in an appropriate way.
  • If the building must be demolished because of obsolescence of other circumstances after 50 years of the agreement, the name on the building will not be transferred to a new facility. 

For programs, positions, and other funds, the following will also be included:

  • If the College finds that all or part of these funds cannot be used in the future to meet the original purposes stated in this agreement, the College will direct the gift to another purpose that is as close as possible to the original intent of the donors. If and when such action is necessary, the College will inform the donors of this circumstance when practical to do so. When a decision of this kind is made, it will be final and binding on all concerned parties.

Honorific Namings

It is preferable that naming rights and permanent recognition plaques will be used to honor either the donors who support the College through their generosity or the individuals whom donors wish to honor through such generosity. Amherst may, however, name properties, including public spaces, programs, and facilities, in honor of members of the College community who have made truly extraordinary contributions to it. Such requests must be submitted to and approved by the Gift Acceptance Committee (GAC).

When such a request is made, the GAC will take into consideration, among other things: 1) the value of the space to the College; 2) the marketability/value of the space to prospective donors; 3) the uniqueness of the naming opportunity; 4) the useful life of the space; and 5) whether the individual’s accomplishments might be best recognized in some other way, such as an on-campus celebration, lecture, symposium, gifts made in the individual’s honor to existing funds, or a newly endowed fund.

The College’s practice is to name funds and spaces for faculty, staff, and administrators only after they have retired or left the college in good standing. Similarly, the practice applies to those past employees who are deceased.  The GAC reserves the right to make exceptions to this practice.