Board of Trustees receives Marvin Center renaming recommendations

Media Credit: File Photo by Alexander Welling | Senior Staff Photographer

The Board also approved a new policy at its meeting Friday on naming that establishes a vetting process to consider institutional risk before naming campus spaces or University positions after donors.

Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights said trustees have received recommendations from the Marvin Center naming task force but have yet to start the consideration process.

Speights declined to provide a timeline on when the Board may reach a decision on the Marvin Center’s name and said officials will consider the recommendations “as soon as possible.” The completion of recommendations comes nearly a year after the Board approved a framework for considering name change requests for University buildings last June and later established two committees last July to consider the renaming requests for the Marvin Center and the Colonials moniker.

Speights said University President Thomas LeBlanc planned to share the recommendations on the Marvin Center name first before handing over those for the Colonials moniker. The special committees charged with assessing the two renaming requests released historical materials that catalogued the development of the moniker and the racist legacy of former University President Cloyd Heck Marvin last year.

“I think the president reported we would start with the Marvin Center first – that’s the first report we got, and then the Colonial moniker,” Speights said in an interview.

The Board also approved a new policy on naming at its meeting Friday, establishing a vetting process before naming campus spaces or University positions after donors. The policy states that officials reserve the right to revoke the name of a building or academic position if the name’s continued use could risk the University’s reputation.

The policy requires Board approval for naming opportunities that could pose “substantial reputational risk” to the University associated with academic positions, programs or buildings and requires administration approval for names of lecture series, fellowships and landscaping.

“Over the course of the year, the committee and the administration discussed the types of information gathering, review and approvals that should preceed associating any name with the excellent name and reputation of the University,” Mark Chichester, the chair of the Board’s committee on governance and nominations, said at the meeting.

Officials will also take “due diligence” before recommending naming opportunities for groups like corporations to avoid the appearance of commercial influence or a conflict of interest, according to the policy.

The policy states that the University can revoke a naming opportunity from a donor if the donor does not fulfill the obligations outlined in their gift agreement or if the Board determines that a continued use of the name may “compromise the public trust or reputation of the University.”

“The proposed policy changes shift Board approval of naming opportunities from a dollar threshold to one of assessing institutional risk,” Chichester said.

Yankun Zhao contributed reporting.

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