Montana State University
Montana State University > Policy and Procedures > Commemorative Tributes Policy

Commemorative Tributes Policy


Subject: Commemorative Tributes

Policy: Commemorative Tributes Policy

Revised: April 3, 2013

Effective Date: October 1, 2007

Review Date:April 3, 2016

Responsible Party:Legal Counsel


100.00            Introduction and Purpose:   This policy governs the commemorative naming of
1) buildings, portions of buildings, streets or other physical facilities, significant exterior spaces owned by 1) the State of Montana under the control of the Montana University System or 2) the university, agricultural research centers; 2) the display of items of recognition, including the erection of recognition walls or hanging of plaques, portraits or other memorials honoring individuals, organizations or other entities on university property; and (3) the naming of specific academic units or academic positions in honor of individuals, organizations or other entities.

200.00            Definitions: For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

201.00            “Academic components” means units, departments, schools, colleges, centers or any part of an academic program.

202.00            “Academic positions” means professorships, chairs or other positions related to the academic programs of the university. 

203.00            “Buildings” means physical structures and includes all buildings, athletic facilities and significant interior spaces, such as theaters and auditoriums that seat more than 250 people, owned by the State of Montana and under the control of the Montana University System.

204.00            “Items of recognition” means displays, including recognition walls, plaques, portraits or memorials placed on any portion of university property that commemorate or honor individuals or organizations.

205.00            “Significant Exterior Spaces” means spaces that are not part of a building, but are part of the campus infrastructure including parking lots, assembly areas, malls, and streets owned by the State of Montana under the control of the Montana University System.

300.00            University Approval Required.  Any commemorative naming of buildings, physical facilities, specific academic components or positions, and displays or erection of plaques, signs, and portraits as a commemorative tribute to a person, organization or other entity must be approved in advance by the Commemorative Tributes Committee.

310.00            Regents Approval.  Buildings and significant exterior spaces named after or dedicated in honor of a person, organization or other entity must be approved by the Board of Regents unless named for an academic field or designated by a functional description.

320.00            Approval Process.  Any proposal for commemorative naming must be submitted to the dean of the college that has responsibility for the proposed named property or the vice president for student affairs if the property is a facility that is operated by Auxiliary Services (e.g., residence halls, athletic venues, student union building, etc).  It is recommended that the proposer obtain university approval for the naming proposal before notification of the honoree. The proposal shall identify the property, describe the proposed commemorative tribute and information about the person to be honored and their contributions to the University.  The University Commemorative Tributes Committee shall review proposals for commemorative tributes under this policy and for making recommendations to the president. All naming shall be evaluated in terms of its consistency with the university’s strategic planning, facilities planning and fundraising priorities.

After review, the president will approve or disapprove the commemorative tribute and submit his/her approved proposals for commemorative tributes to the Board of Regents, if required under Regents policy. The President, upon the recommendation of the Commemorative Tributes Committee, will approve the erection of plaques, permanent signs and other memorials (such as bricks and benches), and the commissioning and hanging of portraits related to the naming.

400.00            Commemorative Tributes Committee. The Commemorative Tributes Committee will consist of the following:

President of the MSU Alumni Foundation, Chair
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice President for Student Success
Vice President for Administration and Finance
Vice President for Research, Creativity and Technology Transfer
Chair of the University Facilities Planning Board
Vice President for External Relations
Director, Planning, Design and Construction, (non-voting)

500.00            Criteria for Commemorative Naming.  Commemorative naming shall honor persons or entities which have made significant contributions to the social, academic, scholarly, research, or student life of the campus and/or in recognition of substantial charitable gifts to the campus. The contribution of the person or entity for which property is named shall be commensurate with the honor and compatible with the mission of the campus.  Buildings and other property of the Montana University System may not be named or dedicated in honor of a person currently employed by the Montana University System or the State of Montana.  

510.00            Names in Tribute of Corporate Entities.  Corporate names are considered to be generally appropriate for naming of internal spaces. Such naming opportunities must be stated in the proposal, as part of the negotiation, prior to consideration by the Commemorative Tributes Committee. Corporate names are not considered to be appropriate for the external identification of campus buildings. Internal physical spaces may be named for a negotiated period of approximately ten years or less. Exceptions may be granted in extraordinary situations.

520.00            Building Names.  The following guidelines should be observed in naming buildings or portions of buildings:

            a.         Entire buildings, building additions, or portions of buildings may be named in honor of an individual or individuals.

            b.         The naming of a building, part of a building, or other facility or property of the university is a high honor and would not be done casually. The honor is reserved for those who have made extraordinary contributions to the University through their achievements in service and/or in financial support to the university.

           c.         To merit recognition in the naming of a building or portion of a building, an individual's relationship to the university should be truly exceptional in both quality and impact.

           d.         When financial contributions are a factor, the level of contribution needed to name a building, addition to a building, or portion of a building (as may be the case in a major renovation project) will vary depending on the financing considerations, purpose, size, prominence on campus, and the level of private support needed for construction. Such gift commitments must be payable over a defined pledge term and the donor must provide a legally binding commitment enforceable against his/her assets/estate until the pledge is retired.

           e.         Names assigned to buildings are intended to be enduring.  Changes should be made only when significant changes occur to the property (such as major renovation or demolition), upon agreement of the honoree, or as a result of other, extenuating circumstances.

600.00            Plaques and Portraits, and Miscellaneous Items of Recognition.

Donor walls, plaques, portraits, and miscellaneous items (bricks, benches, etc.) may be approved to commemorate truly outstanding contributions, either in service or financial support, of persons or organizations. Such tributes should be located inside or outside buildings or facilities that have strong identification with the persons or organizations being honored.  The cost of such plaques, portraits, and miscellaneous recognition items generally should be borne by donors interested in the tributes. All designs need to be reviewed and approved by the Director of Planning, Design and Construction, Office of Facilities Services to assure compliance with the university’s master plan.

700.00            Departments, Schools, Colleges, Institutes, Centers, or Other Academic Commemorations.

A major academic unit may be named in honor of an individual in recognition of service to the university and/or in recognition of financial contributions sufficient to provide physical facilities and equipment for its academic and/or research programs, or which would provide sufficient income to cover an appropriate portion of the annual operating costs of the unit, or both.

The name applied to an academic unit should be appropriate to its purpose, and should reflect honor on the university as well as upon the person for which it is named.

Because the life of a university center or institute is not expected to continue indefinitely, gift funding for an institute or a center may be accomplished by endowment or current gifts. If accomplished by a current gift, the name of the institute or center shall generally be limited to the term during which the expendable gift provides funding. The policies and procedures for naming the center or institute shall be the same as for naming other major academic units of the university.

800.00            Internal Control/Enforcement.  The President is ultimately responsible for the approval of commemorative tributes on the MSU campus and the implementation of the policies related thereto.