Procedure for Consideration of Renaming Requests

The Report of the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming, adopted by the Yale Corporation on November 28, 2016, sets forth the principles for consideration of requests to withdraw the name of a building or other campus structure or space (“renaming request”).  The report provides:

  • There is a strong presumption against renaming a building on the basis of the values associated with its namesake. Such a renaming should be considered only in exceptional circumstances.

o   The presumption against renaming is at its strongest when a building has been named for someone who made major contributions to the University.

  • Principles to be considered:

o   Is a principal legacy of the namesake fundamentally at odds with the mission of the University?

o   Was the relevant principal legacy significantly contested in the time and place in which the namesake lived?

o   Did the University, at the time of a naming, honor a namesake for reasons that are fundamentally at odds with the mission of the University?

o   Does a building whose namesake has a principal legacy fundamentally at odds with the University’s mission, or which was named for reasons fundamentally at odds with the University’s mission, play a substantial role in forming community at the University?

  • The report states: “We expect that renaming will typically prove warranted only when more than one principle listed here points toward renaming; even when more than one principle supports renaming, renaming may not be required if other principles weigh heavily in the balance.”

A renaming request must be submitted in an application that meets the following administrative requirements:

  • states the grounds on which the name should be changed;
  • specifies how the Principles on Renaming require that the name be changed, presenting a thoroughly researched and well-documented case with supporting historical and other evidence; and
  • meets other administrative requirements as the Office of the Secretary may from time to time establish.

Such applications shall be submitted in writing to the Office of the Secretary at 105 Wall Street, 2nd floor, or via email to secretary.office@yale.edu.  The Secretary or designee(s) will review the application and determine whether it meets the administrative requirements.  This review will not address the merits of the application.  If the application does not meet the administrative requirements, the applicant will be so advised and the application will undergo no further review.  If the application meets the administrative requirements, it will be forwarded to the President who will consult with members of the University Cabinet (i.e., the Provost, Vice Presidents, and Deans).

The President, following consultation with the Cabinet members, will decide whether the application warrants further review under this procedure.  Further review may be warranted only if (1) the application clearly demonstrates that the request may overcome the presumption against renaming when the Principles on Renaming are applied to it and (2) the review is needed in order to address significant concerns of the University community.  The President may also determine without an application having been submitted that the historical name of a building or other campus structure or space warrants review under this process.

If a renaming question warrants further review, the President will appoint an advisor or advisors who have relevant knowledge and expertise to advise the President and Corporation on the question.  The advisor(s) will consider the name removal question by applying the Renaming Principles and may obtain expert advice and consultation, solicit appropriate input from the University community, require the applicant to present additional evidence (historical or otherwise), and conduct research and fact-finding.  Upon completion of this review, the advisor or group of advisors will submit to the President a report and recommendation.

The President will transmit the report and recommendation to the Corporation, which will review the matter and make a final decision. 

After a name has been considered under this process, it will not be considered again absent a material change in known facts and circumstances.