Renaming U of I college sparks debate
URBANA — A plan to name the business college at the University of Illinois after a donor who gave a record $150 million to the school has been approved, but with some debate.
The proposal to name the college after alumnus Larry Gies was approved after an amendment was added saying the vote wouldn’t serve as a precedent for renaming other colleges, The News-Gazette reported.
The university’s Academic Senate, which represents faculty and students on campus, said administrators failed to follow the established procedures for changing the name of a college. They said a vote is required by the faculty within the college and the senate.
Administrators said they consulted with the university’s lawyers about the college’s name and determined they only needed to follow the Campus Administrative Manual’s rules, which requires senate advice, not approval.
College of Business Dean Jeffrey Brown also argued that the senate’s procedures only apply for proposals to change a college’s name. He said the college didn’t have an official name.
“We’ve never had this kind of a naming before. We’re still the College of Business. We’re just now the Gies College of Business. This is unprecedented territory, which is why we took efforts to vet it through the legal counsel. We feel very confident that we followed an appropriate process.”
Faculty also raised concerns about the influence of donors on universities’ operations, citing cases at schools, including Yale University, where a $20 million donation had to be returned because the donor tried to select faculty members.
“This gift is completely unrestricted in its use,” Brown responded. “There’s nothing in the gift agreement that provides the donor any right to have a say on anything. We would certainly never allow a donor in our college to influence faculty hiring decisions, admissions decisions, anything of that nature.”
Gies’ donation will go toward student scholarships and student programs or faculty hiring, Brown said.