Leaving a Legacy: How the Names of Campus Buildings Were Chosen

By Elizabeth Cavin, Staff Reporter


Do the names Whitaker, Coblentz, or Hodson sound familiar? They should for many who’ve attended Hood College, although few would know about the peo-ple these essential buildings are named after.

After emailing two Hood historians and reading more on the topic, I’ve not only discovered more about the origins of Hood’s buildings, but also about the seeds of potential ones.

But who determines a building’s name anyway?

Mary Atwell, Hood archivist and collection development services manager, wasn’t sure, but she said the standard practice on college campuses is

“usually a building is dedicated to the per-son who donates the money that covers the cost to build the structure.”

According to Krista Schaffert, director of advancement services, archive volunteer, and co-author of “People Behind the Names,” the College’s Board of Trustees is sometimes responsible for naming at Hood. When specific naming opportunities arise, they generally set or approve the minimum financial giving levels for a donor to secure their name on the space. “The College’s board may also choose to assign a name to a building or space in honor or memory of an individual who has had an especially significant or noteworthy impact on Hood.”

For example, both the Whitaker and Hodson-family names were chosen after giving large financial donations to the college. The Apple and Coblentz-family names, on the other hand, were chosen mainly due to their leadership, vision, and long-standing dedication to the College.

Soon the naming process will occur again at Hood, according to Atwell. “Hood is certain to have new buildings eventually. Currently, plans are in the works to raze the Marx Center and erect a new residence hall. The Board of Trustees is to vote on this plan in June 2018.” “Other plans for new buildings can be viewed by looking at the campus master plan.”

Even when college buildings are set in stone, though, that doesn’t mean they can’t grow and change. A lot of structures have been built or rebuilt since 2000, according to Schaffert. “There have also been other major renovations to spaces.”

Hood buildings can also can be renamed, according to Atwell and Schaffert. Both mentioned the old “Hood Athletic Center” (completed in 2011) as an example of this. “In 2015, at the direction of the Hood College Board of Trustees, the building was renamed in honor of President Ronald J. Volpe in recognition of his long and dedicated service to the College upon the occasion of his retirement,” said Schaffert. According to the Hood website, this building was chosen because of Volpe’s strong association with Hood athletics.

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