Building name change process is more complex than it appears, Reitz says

 Currently, there is a form to petition a name change for other buildings on campus. (Brandon Barzola/ The Daily Campus)

Currently, there is a form to petition a name change for other buildings on campus. (Brandon Barzola/ The Daily Campus)

Changing the name of a building or parking lot requires numerous levels of approval, said University of Connecticut spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz.

Requests for building or parking lot name changes can be submitted through a formal process by a student or staff member, Reitz said.

On Sunday, Adam Weber, a 2017 UConn graduate, posted about his request to change the W-Lot to Weber Lot on UConn’s subreddit. Administration rejected his appeal through a letter, citing that there are sequential standard parking lot names that lots must adhere to across campus.

“I was browsing the University Planning, Designing and Construction (UPDC) webpage and came across the name change request form. It seemed simple enough to fill out so I thought I’d give it a shot just for fun,” Weber said. “Since building names seem to be reserved for those who have donated millions of dollars, I figured I would pick a building of little significance like a shed.”

Weber said that given the construction around campus, it would be a good idea to consider allowing students to have a larger say in how new facilities and areas are named.

“While the administration should have the final say in the name, it would be a great idea to solicit name suggestions from the students and vote on them to honor influential people from the university, state or country,” Weber said. “I think it would instill a strong sense of pride in the students in being able to impact the future of the campus.”

Reitz said the number of areas that are named after a person or group on campus is wide and varies depending on need.

“According to UConn’s guidelines, any UConn facility can be named to honor an individual, family or organization based on service rendered or philanthropic support to the institution,” Reitz said. “That can range from the entirety of a building to smaller spaces such as seminar rooms, courtyards or other relatively permanent places on UConn property.”

Reitz said a majority of the changes that are approved are from individuals and organizations that have contributed a significant amount to improving university programs and initiatives.

“For instance, Next Generation Connecticut Residence Hall was renamed the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower last year in recognition of Mr. Werth’s generous gift of $22.5 million to support innovation and entrepreneurship, including through programs and facilities in that building,” Reitz said.

Changes are also made to honor those who demonstrate extraordinary service to UConn and beyond, Reitz said.

“Some recent examples include the renaming of the CLAS Building in 2012 as the Philip E. Austin Building, honoring the former UConn president; and this year’s renaming of Laurel Hall to become Lawrence D. McHugh Hall, honoring the longtime former chairman of the UConn Board of Trustees,” Reitz said.

The change must go through different intermediaries before it is approved and implemented at the university, Reitz said.

“The committee meets to review the application and makes a recommendation to the president. If the president supports the renaming, the application then goes to the Institutional Advancement Committee of the Board of Trustees,” Reitz said. “If that group endorses it, it goes to the full UConn Board of Trustees for consideration.”

Reitz said the decision to approve a name change is not simple, given that the name must now appear on all university-affiliated institutions.

“It’s important to note that changing the name of a building or facility is a large endeavor that requires updates on printed and online maps, emergency dispatch systems, signs and in various other ways,” Reitz said. “It’s also a public statement of the university’s appreciation for extraordinary service or support.”

Every name change request is reviewed thoroughly to ensure that a fair and reasonable ultimate choice to accept or reject is made, Reitz said.

“Each decision to change a name is made very judiciously and with the input of many groups,” Reitz said.


Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.

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