Like many other commodities in an unstable economy, the cost of getting your name permanently engraved on a public university building in Maryland may be going up.
But the price is still a bargain compared with some other states -- if you can convince the University of Maryland System board of regents that you are worthy in the first place.
A donor who wants his name on a building would have to donate at least 10 percent of the cost of the building, under a policy passed yesterday by the regents' finance committee. Until now, there has been no minimum donation and no specific rules for regents to follow when approving names for buildings.
But the regents' preference is that when buildings are named for people, the individuals should be scholars or "other distinguished individuals who are preeminent in their field of endeavor or who have contributed meaningfully to the University of Maryland System."
The policy calls for donors' generosity to be rewarded by means other than buildings, such as having their names attached to scholarships, programs or endowed professorships. The finance committee's recommendation is tantamount to approval; the full governing body will vote on the new policy early next year.
As fund raising has increased in recent years, so have the names of donors on buildings and other memorials. In some cases, the donors did not contribute anything to the building that bears their name, but instead donated to other university causes.
For instance, the library at Frostburg State University, completed in 1976 for $6 million, was recently named for philanthropist Lewis Ort after he contributed an amount that university officials refuse to specify.
Two buildings at Salisbury State have been named for donors, including the $11 million university center named for the donors of a $2.5 million student scholarship endowment.
Throughout the 11-campus system, buildings are named after counties, rivers, former governors, regents, chancellors, presidents, and, in one case, a Nobel Prize-winning poet. Only in recent years have donors' names made it over the doorways to Maryland academe. On some campuses, their pictures dominate boardrooms.
There are no uniform standards used by universities in naming buildings after donors, according to Mary Joan McCarthy, vice president for educational fund raising of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. But she said 50 percent of the cost of a new building is a frequently used cutoff.
That is the practice at the University of Michigan, for instance, whose elected board of regents approve all building names. For big buildings, the policy is 50 percent of the private gifts raised toward a building's completion.
At Ohio State University, donors must finance at least two-thirds of a building before it is named for them, according to Arthur W. Brodeur, its director of development.