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The Australian National University
Facilities and Services Division
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(Approved by the Council 8 June 2001)

Background and Context

University policies and practices relating to the naming of buildings, facilities and spaces have evolved over a period of many years, if not decades. At present there is a rich mixture of names of such facilities, including:

  1. Names associated with the history of the site, eg Canberry Bridge, Bachelors Lane, Balmain Lane, Lennox House, Sullivans Creek. In some cases these features were named prior to the development of the University.

  2. Notable Australian identities, eg of a political nature (such as Menzies, Chifley, Curtin and Bruce) or academic, eg Liversidge.

  3. Names with a University or academic association, eg Chancelry, Fellows Road, and historical figures, eg Banks, Linnaeus.

  4. Names after those having a significant involvement with the University, either as staff or in some other position, for example Burton, Coombs, Crawford, Hope, Jaeger, Melville and Mills.

  5. Names linked to special identities, especially the affiliated colleges, eg John XXIII, Ursula.

  6. Functional names, eg University House, Science Road, University Union, Willows Oval, Arts Centre and RSBS building.

  7. Others, including charming eccentricities, eg Toad Hall.

In the last ten years there have been formal policies established and at one stage there was a Naming Committee. The Buildings and Grounds Committee also had an early active role to make recommendations to the Council. Over time, the Committee felt somewhat removed from many of the issues and considerations involved in naming and customarily sought the advice of the Senior Officers of the University. In recent years decisions for major site features have been made by the Council on the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor, with the Vice-Chancellor being authorised to approve the naming of rooms and other spaces of less significance. In the light of the consideration of the new role of the Council to focus on strategic and policy issues, it is now proposed that the Vice-Chancellor have the full authority to act in all cases, although he may wish to seek advice from the Council on occasions.

Special care needs to be exercised when it is proposed that a facility be named after a person. This involves consideration of the role played by the person, particularly in the development of the University and that person's academic or other standing. This task is made more difficult by the fact that the reservoir of names of people deserving of being so honoured is considerably greater than the number of buildings and facilities available for naming. One important policy issue is whether those still in active association with the University (or might again become associated in the future) should have buildings or facilities names after them. In recent years this practice has been discouraged mainly on the grounds that such proposals should be considered on the basis of the person's full contribution to the work of the University. Nevertheless, the policy does provide for notable and rare exceptions.

Policy and Procedures

  1. University buildings, facilities and spaces may be known by either
    1. functional names; or
    2. non-functional names, including naming after a person or organisation (including a company).

  2. As a general rule, buildings, facilities and spaces should not be named after persons still in active association with the University, or who might again become associated in the future.

  3. A building, facility or space may be named after a person or organisation where
    1. that person is of academic eminence and has made an outstanding contribution to his or field of study;
    2. that person or organisation has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the relevant School, Centre, Faculty (or other area of the University) or the University overall; or
    3. a substantial benefaction has been made by that person or company.

  4. A building named after a person may include an appended functional appellation where this would serve to clarify the location of the building or assist in identification.

  5. The names of buildings having non-functional names generally shall not change during the life of the building. In particular, where a building is named after a person the name of that building should not generally change in the event that there is a change in the School, Centre, Faculty or Department occupying the building. In the event of a proposal to re-name an existing building with a functional name after a person or organisation, the name need not necessarily reflect or be consistent with the current function of the building.

  6. Rooms including lecture theatres, laboratories, libraries and common rooms may be named after donors of significant benefactions for the period of the benefaction, after which time the name may be changed.

  7. Decisions about naming of buildings, facilities and spaces will be made by the Vice-Chancellor.



  1. Recommendations relating to the naming of buildings, spaces and facilities may be made by any individual or organisation and normally will be submitted to the Director Facilities and Services, or in other cases will be referred to that officer direct. They will then be forwarded to the Vice-Chancellor.

  2. The Vice-Chancellor may wish to seek further advice on the recommendation, including advice from the Council. Recommendations may also be referred to the Buildings and Grounds Committee, which in any event shall be informed of decisions about naming.

  3. The register of named areas will be updated and promulgated by the Director Facilities and Services.

Warwick Williams
Director, Facilities and Services

Paper 104/2001, 8 May 2001
(replaces Paper 1221/1996, 1 July 1996)