UCLA’s Campus Honorary Naming Advisory Committee has published a final report defining the principles and criteria for the honorary naming, renaming and unnaming of buildings and major outdoor locations on campus. The guidelines create a sustainable approach to an issue that has taken on growing importance to the community.
“The names we place on campus buildings and spaces send powerful signals to members of our community,” said Chancellor Gene Block. “The publication of this final report is a key step towards ensuring that the names we bestow represent the diversity of our community and reflect the values of our institution.”
The report (PDF), which addresses buildings and spaces on campus that have generic names or are named in honor of individuals, will be used by a future iteration of the advisory committee for addressing naming proposals. A separate committee, the UCLA Philanthropic and Sponsorship Naming Committee, guides the process for buildings and spaces that are named as a result of philanthropic gifts.
“The committee’s thoughtful and thorough work provides a clear roadmap for UCLA to use in navigating the complex and nuanced questions that arise in considering honorific building and space names,” said committee chair Mary Osako, UCLA’s vice chancellor for strategic communications. “We are grateful for the dedication of committee members and the input we received from all segments of the Bruin community.”
Block established the committee in September 2020. Since then, the group, which includes students, faculty members, administrators and alumni, invited participants including members of the Bruin community and representatives of tribal organizations to engage in seven “hearing sessions,” and received written input from others to help inform the policy. The committee also reviewed policies at other universities. The last steps in formalizing the plan were a 30-day public review of the draft report and a virtual campus forum, at which highlights of the draft were presented.
The report calls for the chancellor to appoint a campus official to coordinate the intake process and consideration of proposals from the campus community. That appointee and another who will be selected by the UCLA Academic Senate will become co-chairs of the next iteration of the naming committee, which will include students, staff, faculty, alumni, emeriti and representatives of traditional stewards of the land now occupied by campus, as well as members of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; UCLA Strategic Communications; UCLA Library; and UCLA Legal Affairs.
Moving forward, the committee will be charged with considering specific proposals, including issues ranging from the history and legacy of proposed namesakes to the appropriateness of the proposed locations. The report states that “the significance of the honoree’s connection to or impact upon the UCLA community and its academic mission” should be the key factors “in determining whether to name buildings and spaces after an individual,” as opposed to the person’s contributions to the broader community or society.
In addition, the committee will consider requests for unnaming facilities “due to misalignment of the initial honoree’s conduct or speech with UCLA’s values,” the report says.
“Conferring a name on a building or outdoor space is one of the highest distinctions UCLA can bestow,” said Carole Goldberg, Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law emerita and a member of the committee. “This plan will allow current and future Bruins to honor those who have played a key role in the history of UCLA, including and especially those who have not received appropriate recognition in the past.”