Naming Policy

Approved October 1996

Amended November 2002

Approved by the Board of Trustees December 2002

Amended May 2012, December 2013, October 2018

Approved by the Board of Trustees May 2022


Donor: A person or entity making a Philanthropic Donation. 

Gift Agreement: A written agreement between a Donor and the University including the terms of accepting a Philanthropic Donation and the terms of a proposed Name in recognition of a Philanthropic Donation, which could also include Terms of Reference, or Memoranda of Understanding.

Major: In the case of clause 4.1.11, Major means either a significant part of the cost or a contribution regarded as central to the completion of the facility or activity and represents a substantial part of its value. 

Name: A name bestowed on a University Asset under the provisions of this Policy.

Naming: The bestowing of a Name on a University Asset under the provisions of this Policy.

Philanthropic Donation: A donation or pledge to make a donation to Queen’s University and its affiliated organizations, including the U.S. Foundation for Queen’s University at Kingston.

Policy: Means this Naming Policy and all of its related Procedures as amended from time to time.

Reputation: Overall quality or character, as seen or judged by the Board of Trustees or its delegates.

University: Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario and its affiliated organizations, including the U.S. Foundation for Queen’s University at Kingston.

University Asset: A physical or non-physical resource or property of Queen’s University. 

Useful Life: For the purposes of this Policy, Useful Life is the period during which a physical asset is expected to be usable for the purpose it was built. It may or may not correspond with the item's actual physical life.

1. Background


Naming University Assets is a well-established practice at Queen's University.

From Named Chairs and awards to Named buildings, gardens and other physical University Assets, Queen's University welcomes the opportunity to:

  • honour those who have rendered outstanding service;
  • recognize generous Philanthropic Donations that make possible the construction or restoration of buildings and facilities, the establishment of academic and administrative positions, and/or the development of programs; and
  • commemorate important milestones. 


While the lands on which Queen’s University is situated are University Assets, the University recognizes that it enjoys certain rights in respect of these lands by virtue of treaties with Indigenous peoples, and that there is a shared responsibility for these lands as well as parallel practices and traditions concerning how these lands are known. These practices and traditions are not incompatible.

Queen’s acknowledges that it is situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory and recognizes its history, being one that predates the establishment of the earliest European colonies, its significance for the Indigenous peoples who lived, and continue to live, upon it and whose practices and spiritualities were, and remain, tied to it.

Queen’s also acknowledges that the relationship of Indigenous peoples to this territory historically expressed itself through naming of the land. As that relationship continues, the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee communities of this territory may confer new names upon the land that Queen’s is grateful to occupy. The University respects the ancient names for this territory, as well as the right of those communities to express its evolving relationship with the lands through new names. 

2. Purpose


The Naming of an asset is of considerable significance to Queen's, and several factors govern Naming.

2.1.1 A Name reflects how the University, and its community perceives itself, its evolving mission, and its values as outlined in the University's Strategic Framework

2.1.2 Processes concerning a Naming and the decisions arising from these processes must be thoughtful, consistent, and equitable.

2.1.3 University Assets to be Named are not unlimited.

2.1.4 The Naming of a University Asset does not preclude additional Namings of that same University Asset. 


This Policy has been adopted as a means of ensuring that the above purposes and the principles that guide the Naming of University Assets – including re-Naming and revocation of a Name - are clearly articulated, understood, and equitably applied.

3. Scope


This Policy governs Naming of University Assets including, but not limited to:

  • physical assets such as:
    • buildings, parts of buildings, and facilities;
    • common or green spaces, grounds, physical structures, and streets;
  • non-physical assets such as:
    • faculties, schools, departments, and other academic units;
    • research centres and institutes, and research programs;
    • non-research centres and institutes;
    • lectureships, special lecture series', awards for excellence in teaching, research, or performance of other academic responsibilities;
    • academic and administrative positions; and
  • such other entities or University Assets to which the University may see fit to grant a Naming.


This Policy does not  apply to sponsorship arrangements negotiated with the University. 


This Policy does not apply to scholarships and other forms of student aid, names of which are determined by the Senate Committee on Scholarships and Student Aid. 


The University celebrates and embraces Indigenous naming of the land on which Queen’s is situated that is developed by Indigenous communities through Indigenous customs and consensus. This Policy does not apply to these names.

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4. Principles


The Naming of University Assets must conform to the following principles.

4.1.1 Namings of University Assets shall be made in accordance with this Policy and in accordance with other related policies, procedures, and guidelines (such as, but not limited to the Gift Acceptance Policy and its procedures).

4.1.2 Each Naming shall enhance the mission, values, and priorities of the University while preserving academic freedom and the University’s integrity.

4.1.3 A Naming should be consistent with the University’s commitment to a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist community, which is indigenized and decolonized, and which observes the interests of the planet and the life it sustains.

4.1.4 A Naming shall be independent of all appointment, admission, and curriculum decisions. 

4.1.5 The Naming of an academic unit shall not impede the University from altering its academic and research priorities and shall conform to all University policies and guidelines governing the establishment of such entities.

4.1.6 Persons recognized in a Naming must be of sound Reputation.

4.1.7 No Naming will be approved that will imply the University’s endorsement of a political party, a candidate for or holder of a public office. This does not preclude a Naming with the name of an individual who at one time held public office but no longer does. A Naming with the name of an individual who assumes a public office after the Naming has been approved will remain intact unless the circumstances outlined in Section 10 arise.

4.1.8 Any Naming that includes the name of a company that manufactures or distributes commercial products is not an endorsement of that company or its product(s), but rather, is only intended to recognize a Philanthropic Donation that made possible the building, acquisition, or creation of a University Asset. 

4.1.9 For any Naming of a University Asset, the University shall seek, where possible, written support for the Naming from the intended honouree, or, if deceased, members of the intended honouree’s family.

4.1.10 All Namings in recognition of Philanthropic Donations shall comply with University funding minima and standards in effect when the Naming is approved.

4.1.11 A Naming in recognition of a Philanthropic Donation can only be granted if the Philanthropic Donation covers at least a Major portion of the cost to build, acquire or renovate a University Asset that is physical in nature.

5. Naming Authority


The authority to approve a Naming, to transfer an existing Name to another University Asset, or to discontinue or revoke a Name rests with the Board of Trustees and its delegates.


Consistent with Queen's University's Gift Acceptance Policy, the acceptance of any Philanthropic Donation that involves a Naming proposal is conditional upon approval of the proposed Name by the Board of Trustees, or its delegate(s).


The Board of Trustees may delegate decision-making/approval authority to individuals or entities who will make decisions concerning Namings on behalf of the Board of Trustees in accordance with this Policy; such delegates shall be accountable to the Board of Trustees for their exercise of such delegated authority. Normally, delegation to University administration shall be only to the Principal and Vice-Principal levels.

5.3.1 The Vice-Principal (Advancement) has the delegated authority to approve the Naming, re-Naming, or revocation of a Naming of University Assets in recognition of Philanthropic Donations of less than $1 million.

5.3.2 The External Relations and Development Committee has the delegated authority to approve the Naming, re-Naming, or revocation of a Naming of University Assets in recognition of Philanthropic Donations of $1 million or more, but less than $10 million.

5.3.3 Where a University Asset has not been Named, the Principal has the delegated authority to approve a Naming for operational purposes related to wayfinding (as in addresses) or functional descriptions of a University Asset (as in department names or descriptions of what a physical asset is used for), and to re-Name or revoke such a Naming. These Names are in English (the business language of the University) and do not preclude a future Naming of that University Asset. 


Notwithstanding any other provision of this Policy, no Naming will be approved or, continued, if it would be prejudicial to the University, its evolving mission or values, or its community. 

6. Duration of Naming


Subject to the other provisions in this Section 6, if a Naming has been approved for a physical University Asset, it will be honoured for the Useful Life of the asset, or alternatively for a stated limited time.


A Naming in recognition of an entity that is not an individual – such as a corporation or corporate foundation or other similar entity - shall be for a stated limited period of time.


It may be appropriate to offer a Naming for a limited period of time for a Philanthropic Donation. In such case, Queen's is obligated to honour the Naming for the period of time stipulated in the Gift Agreement, subject to Section 10 of this Policy and subject to any renewal of the Naming. Renewal of the Name is subject to the provisions of the Gift Agreement.


Where (i) a University Asset is Named, and (ii) the University Asset so Named is directly supported by an endowed fund (such as an endowed building fund, or endowed chairs or lectures), the University will maintain the Name as long as the endowment exists.

7. Due Diligence


The University shall conduct appropriate due diligence to reasonably assure the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s) that any honouree of a Naming is of sound Reputation and that the proposed Naming complies with this Policy. 


The person(s) vested with decision-making/approval authority regarding a proposed Naming pursuant to Section 5 of this Policy, must be satisfied that the obligations of this Section 7 have been fulfilled.

8. Approvals


Subject to Section 3 of this Policy, only the Board of Trustees, or its delegate(s), are authorized to approve a Naming.

8.1.1 Approval of a Naming in recognition of Philanthropic Donations requires a signed Gift Agreement, including a payment schedule. 

8.1.2 A minimum of 25% of a Philanthropic Donation must be received before the approved Naming is made public through an announcement and/or the installation of signage, unless the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s) approve otherwise.

8.1.3 Provisions in this Policy that apply to a Naming in recognition of a Philanthropic Donation also generally apply to a Naming recognizing a third party at the wish of a Donor.

8.1.4 Only in exceptional circumstances will University Assets be Named to honour outstanding service of members of faculty or staff while the honouree remains in the full-time employment of the University. 

8.1.5 Members of faculty and staff making Philanthropic Donations are eligible to be recognized by a Naming for their Philanthropic Donations.


No commitment shall be made for a Naming without the written approval of the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s).


The University reserves the right to decide on the physical displays which may accompany a Naming.

8.3.1 Plaques, signs, or other physical displays recognizing Namings shall be of a generally uniform design and shall be consistent with the University's branding guidelines.

9. Renaming of University Assets


Any proposal for re-Naming or to bestow additional Names on a University Asset shall adhere to the same principles and requirements for Namings outlined in this Policy.  In this case the University will endeavour to consult with all parties concerned (e.g. Donor, Donor representative) where reasonably possible.


When, for whatever reason, a Named building or space is to be demolished, rebuilt, or the purpose of the space is altered, the University shall have discretion to retain, transfer, or discontinue the use of the Name.


The Board of Trustees or its delegate(s) have the right (in consultation with the Donor(s) where possible) to change the Name of a University Asset due to a change of circumstances, such as change of name or marital status, or a change of circumstances that affects a Named program.


The University may re-Name a University Asset if the Naming for that University Asset is revoked in accordance with Section 10 below.

10. Revocation


A Naming may be revoked where continuation of the Naming would, in the opinion of the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s) be prejudicial to the University, its evolving mission or values, or its community.


In addition to the right of revocation set forth in paragraph 10.1 above, the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s) shall retain the right to revoke a Naming in recognition of a Philanthropic Donation if there is a shortfall in the promised payment(s) outlined in the Gift Agreement, following reasonable notice to the Donor and an opportunity to address the shortfall.

10.2.1 In case of a shortfall that is not addressed within a period of time as determined by the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s), the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s) may revoke the Naming and may offer the Donor(s) an alternate Naming commensurate with the actual giving level. 


Consistent with the Income Tax Act and Canada Revenue Agency guidelines, if a Naming in recognition of a Philanthropic Donation is revoked, the University shall not return any portion of the Philanthropic Donation already received.


Any proposed revocation of a Naming shall require written confirmation of due diligence on the background and impact of the subject of the Naming to the Board of Trustees or its delegate(s).


The revocation process shall generally parallel the approval process outlined in Section 8 of this Policy.

11. Records


Once a final decision on a proposed Naming has been made, and if approved the Name has been publicly announced, a copy of the Naming proposal, Gift Agreement, record of decision, and other relevant documents shall be deposited with the University Secretariat.


The Office of Advancement shall be responsible for maintaining an inventory of Named University Assets covered by this Policy.


The Naming Policy and its Procedures are maintained by the Office of Advancement and the University Secretariat. 

Related Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines

Queen’s Strategic Framework
Statement on Land Acknowledgement and Indigenous Naming
Queen’s Board of Trustees Code of Conduct
Queen's University's Gift Acceptance Policy
Procedure for Approval of Service and Commemorative Naming
Procedure for Approval of Naming Recognizing Philanthropic Donations of less than $1M
Procedure for Approval of Naming Recognizing Philanthropic Donations of $1M - $9,999,999
Procedure for Approval of Naming Recognizing Philanthropic Donations of $10 million or more
Procedure to Revoke a Naming
Procedure for Academic Unit Namings

Responsible Officer: Vice-Principal, Advancement

Contact: Donor Relations, Office of Advancement

Date for Next Review: 2027