What’s in a Name?

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Due to budget cuts to higher education, many universities may now find it difficult to continue expanding campus structure and programs. To combat the decreased amount of state allocations, Western will kick-off the ‘What’s in a Name?’ campaign this month. The goal of the new campaign is to inform the community of university naming opportunities and raise external funds.

Vice President for University Advancement Jerry Pickman is hopeful the new campaign will fill in gaps in university funding.

“We at the university are relying more on private donations and private funding to help support what we do here at the university and support our mission,” Pickman said. “In recent years we’ve either seen state appropriations reduced or stay pretty static, that there is a greater need for us to fill in the gap with private fundraising.”

“Historically, a lot of the private funding that was raised was raised for what we called the ‘Margin of Excellence,'” Pickman said. “It covered the gap of what the state allocation, tuition and fees didn’t cover; they were more for extra activities or to enhance a program. I think what we are seeing now is it [private donations] becoming more of a necessity. It’s not so much the ‘Margin of Excellence’ as it is if we want to get things done, we know we are going to have to raise private funds.”

Buildings such as the Looney Complex, named after former university president Martin Looney, that have already been named will not be changed. However internal entities such as stages, patios, labs, etc. within the structures will become available for new naming opportunities.

“The idea behind the ‘What’s in a Name?’ publication is that we thought it would be a great opportunity to let our alumni and friends and other benefactors know what the history of the naming opportunity [has] been on our campus,” Pickman said.

University President Robert Vartabedian is hopeful the new naming campaign will help generate funds for the university.

“The percentage of our budget that comes from the state, it’s becoming smaller and smaller, such that we have to rely more on tuition and fees and rely more on external money. We are wanting to sell naming opportunities on campus for various facilities, and we are hopeful that will help us create additional revenue for the university,” Vartabedian said.

While the original naming opportunities for campus structures were given to distinguished alumni or former university presidents, the naming options are now predominantly driven by university donors.

“Historically, it was done a lot of times out of honorarium – individuals who had major impact on the university’s growth and evolution over several years,” Pickman said. “When we went into our last capital campaign and the campaign prior, we saw the opportunity to attach naming opportunities to private giving. A lot of times people want to leave a legacy, or a family legacy, by giving an amount of money that will allow them to have their name on a building.”

University naming opportunities will range in price from $100,000 to $15 million, depending on the contribution and what the overall intention of the new structure will be for the students and the community.