Examining Naming Issues on Campus

Journal Cover

This is a SCUP Fellow Research Project Final Report. The SCUP Fellows program is designed to strengthen higher education leaders who seek to carry out new research that contributes to SCUP’s knowledge base of integrated planning. Learn more.

From 2015–2018, amidst a period of heightened activism on campuses and broader societal change, institutions of higher education renamed and de-named campus buildings with namesakes whose legacies were seen to conflict with institutional missions and community values and harmful to members of the campus and surrounding communities. In 2020, the push for addressing problematic namesakes grew exponentially, expanding beyond buildings and postsecondary education.

Effectively managing naming issues on campus and the expectations and interests of internal and external stakeholder groups is challenging, emotional, and time consuming work that has a lasting impact on the physical campus as well as institutional legacy. This research report summarizes the specific cases of US institutions that addressed a naming issue between 2014 and 2021 and what each of them chose to do when faced with this challenging decision.


Erin Johnson, MS

Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2020–2021 Fellow

Related resource: Watch the recording of Erin’s research presentation.