Students Fight Against Renaming Trend…And Win

Almost 170 alumni of the University of Alberta School of Business have donated C$20 million to prevent the school being re-named after a corporate donor or wealthy alumnus, bucking the recent renaming trend at business schools that, most notably, includes Chicago Booth, renamed after David Booth’s $300 million donation.

Three years ago, a fundraising committee at Alberta School of Business thought it could set up a rich endowment by changing the name and joining the ranks of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management or Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, a piece in the Edmonton Journal reveals.

Although the committee found interested buyers, members had a change of heart, and the alumni driven pledge has resulted in a signed certificate saying the current name will be preserved in perpetuity.

“This school is owned by its alumni. It’s owned by its community,” says Mike Percy, dean of the business school. “Always has been, always will be.” Preserving the name is a way of thinking for the future, he adds. The school could have chosen one of its most famous alumni, and “at the end of the day, after one generation, no one knows who they are.”

Alberta is not the first business school to resist the naming trend, The Economist reports. In 2007, Wisconsin School of Business alumni raised $85m to prevent renaming at their school. And in 2008, Imperial Business School dropped the name of major benefactor Gary Tanaka so that it could re-emphasise its links to Imperial College.

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