What's in a Name? Reputation and Sometimes Controversy

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

It's a gesture of honor that can sometimes lead to big regrets.

A study by the Manhattan Institute For Policy Research shows: naming buildings after living people may soon become a thing of the past.

Many schools and public places are opting for less controversial name ties.

It's a risk some aren't willing to take, and others wish they hadn't.

You see these names all around a town, on parks, college campuses, and even schools.

"We have some distinguished Texas heroes, Crockett is named for one," Sandy Farris with Bryan ISD said.

But when it comes to deciding whose name ends up on a building, there are some rules. For Bryan ISD, it must be a deceased distinguished Texan.

"You can avoid any controversy that may be associated with anyone," Farris said.

Bryan ISD is just one school district, out of many others across the country now adopting policies that prevent them from naming schools after living individuals.

"Bowen Elementary for example is named for a former board member," Farris said.

But a study shows time may even be ticking on that, as more schools and public buildings, are choosing names that don't carry a reputation with them.

"Various plaques around the building, of course over the front door--on the front door," Carol Wagner points out signage on the Art Council building.

Carol Wagner with the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley knows very well the effects of name regret.

The buildings' namesake is now a convicted felon.

"If you are going to name it for an individual, understand, that situations could arise that would make your choice not necessarily a popular one, or appropriate one," Wagner said.

The cost of removing these name plaques is in the thousands. Money, Carol says the Arts Council doesn't currently have.

"For us as an organization, to do it on our own at this point we would not have the funding to be able to take care of it," Wagner said.

For now, the signs serve as reminder of troubled times past. A reminder the Arts Council is hoping to get rid of.

"I think it will probably mean closure to what has been going on the past couple of years," Wagner said.

The Arts Council plans to meet with City of College Station leaders beginning Tuesday, to discuss getting financial help to remove the signage from their building.

And just in case you're wondering, Bryan ISD says the one exception to their naming rule has been the Merrill Green Stadium. Officials say the stadium doesn't fall under any of their school naming policies since it's an athletic facility.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Texas A&M also says the Board of Regents will review their current building naming policy this Thursday and Friday at its meeting.

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