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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

How much would it cost to rename the college after yourself

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Like many a Carl, I dream of having my name on a blue plaque next to a campus building. Having something named after you at an institution of higher learning is a benchmark of prestige and achievement.

But just how would one go about it? Is there are catalogue, do I show up at Steve Poskanzer’s office with a sack filled with money and a dollar sign on it? How is it done?

To answer this question I spoke to Dan Rustad, Carleton’s Director of Development, about the process of recognizing gifts and donations. Carleton College’s procedure is to name a building after an individual or family who donates approximately 50% or more of a building’s construction costs. Hence, Cassatt and James were named at the request of the Cassatt family, who contributed to their construction.

Another popular way to have one’s donations recognized is to have a scholarship, grant, or aid program named after them. However, the school does allow donations for donations to rename smaller spaces, like lab rooms, elevators, bathrooms, atriums, benches, and even broom closets.

When asked about renaming the college, Rustad declined to offer an estimate. As of 2014, the Colleges endowment was $772 Million US dollars, so a donation around $1.5 billion dollars would probably be sufficient. For reference, $1.5 billion dollars is the staggeringly high amount recently awarded in a Powerball lottery.

To enact the change would require a conversation involving the trustees, the directors of development, the president of the college, and the broader community. A lot would have to be rebranded: the buildings, the merchandise, even the pens and buttons.

It would require a lot of effort to change the college’s name from Carleton College to Leo. Not Leo College. Just Leo.

When asked what they would do if they won the $1.5 billion dollar Powerball jackpot (or if the winner generously donated their winnings), Mr Rustad argued that it would be used to expand the endowment of the college, more fellowships, more aid, and more faculties.

To my serious disappointment, they would not rename the college, or indeed any building or scholarship after the Powerball Jackpot winner.

For the less deep pocketed individual, you could always settle on having a building renamed. The school is still intending to build new musical and science centers, and those buildings have not been named yet. This is perhaps your last chance for quite a long time to have your name continuously dropped by students complaining about their walks in the cold.

This usually involves donating around 50% of the building’s construction costs. Existing buildings have their names assigned in agreement with donors. If you reached out to these donors, you could coerce or persuade them to ask the college to change the name. But that would require some shrewd detective and persuasion work, the kind that would require a world-class liberal arts education.

For the more fiscally prudent or constrained donator, you do not need to shell out for a whole building. When a new building is authorized, the Carleton Endowment examines the design for potential naming opportunities. During the gift giving process, there are still possibilities for naming that are cheaper than the entirety of a building.

You could try and snag the naming of a broom closet, atrium, or official lactation room. Case in point, in the Weitz Center for Creativity, the main elevator shaft of the Atrium is simply called Henrietta, just Henrietta.

By that logic, surely it’s not a stretch to have the Leo Martin Music Hall, or the Leo Martin Broom Closet in any of the new buildings. Of course if the building were called The Leo (again, just Leo) then it would already be the Leo broom closet or bathroom.

Alas, there is no official price tag for this procedure; as such I will rely on J.P. Morgan’s adage, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

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