Sat. May 25th, 2024

Schmucker Science Center. Photo by Dr. Benjamin Kuebrich

Back in October, the West Chester University Council of Trustees developed the Naming University Facilities and Programs Policy. This policy allows the university to terminate the name of a building/program if it is right to do so. 

WCU’s new policy is adopted in compliance with State System Board of Governors’ Policy No. 1997-03 (Naming of State System of Higher Education Facilities) and Office of the Chancellor Procedure Standard No. 2013-15 (Relationships with Affiliated Entities).

In order for a building or program to be named after someone, a donor must make a financial contribution. For facilities, the financial contribution can be an outright gift, and for a program, it must be a gift supporting the program that will benefit students and faculty.   

The gift requirements for a named facility are a comprehensive restoration of an existing building, renovations of general purpose areas, special purpose areas, landscape areas and, lastly, a design and construction of a new building. Some big bucks are required to name a facility! 

To name a program, the requirements are a little bit different. The minimum gift required to name a college is $5 million, the minimum gift to name a lecture series is $2 million and the minimum gift to name a university program ranges from $1 million to $3 million. The Council of Trustees has the right to terminate the name of a facility or program if in the event of any default in payment of the gift, or if the name of facility or program will harm the image and reputation of the university. 

WCU’s Foundation Liaison will work with the WCU Foundation Chief Executive Officer to approve the naming of a facility or program. If the criteria for gift acceptance has been met, all gifts that bestow naming rights to university facilities must be approved by the University President and Council of Trustees. They will also require a gift agreement between the donor and WCU Foundation.   

Surprisingly, not many WCU students know this policy even exists. Maybe since the policy is newer, the word hasn’t quite spread around campus just yet. Other universities across the nation such as Pennsylvania State University, Binghamton University, Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania have policies similar to WCU’s. A third-year student at WCU, Skylar Johnson, did not know about the policy until the Samuel Schmucker controversy came to light. 

“I think it’s a good policy. When naming buildings, it’s appropriate to have some sort of boundary. Picking a name is a very big deal because some of these buildings in West Chester are historic, meaning their names will be around for a very long time, and some historic things all over the world are named after people who, as it comes out, are not great people, and they should not be honored. So, that’s why this policy is so important,” said Johnson. 

WCU’s development of the new policy for Naming University Facilities and Programs is a big step in the right direction. Hopefully, this new policy will help progress the Students Against Schmucker organization in their fight to remove the name of the Schmucker Science Center. If anyone is interested in doing an even deeper dive into the new policy, it can be found on WCU’s website.   

Jamie Simonds is a fourth-year Media and Culture major with minors in Digital Marketing and Journalism.

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