You are now in the main content area

The Renaming Process

In Fall 2021 President Lachemi appointed the University Renaming Advisory Committee (URAC) to engage in broad community consultation and to identify a shortlist of possible names for the university’s future.  

The URAC drew extensively on advice provided by both internal and external research, branding, and communication experts, as well as extensive community input. Relying on that input, the external renaming firm that the URAC hired provided a comprehensive set of community-informed naming parameters. Legal constraints, search engine optimization (SEO) risk factors, and cultural and linguistic concerns also played a significant role in the determination of the shortlist. 

The combined realities of a diverse community and academic landscape, aspirations for further international expansion, and a commitment to future opportunities for the university noticeably limited the scope of possible names. 

Date (2021- 2022) Stage
October- November Development of the community engagement plan
November- December Community engagement - survey, emails, outreach
January Review of engagement findings to develop naming categories and parameters
February Consideration of name ideas brought forward by community members and professional namers
March Development of short list
By end of Winter 2022 semester Submission of short list to the president

Shortlist deliberation 

The importance of a shortlist that represented collective deliberation, influence, knowledge and input was consistently acknowledged throughout the URAC’s process. The task was not oriented toward popularity, likeability, or personal preference of names. Instead, committee members focused on whether a name had the potential to serve the university well over time. By using a model of perspective sharing and understanding that encouraged all members to ask questions and explore the strengths and gaps associated with various names, the group was able to deepen the collective understanding of names under consideration. The result of this approach was a robust and optimal shortlist that was strategic, rational and well-informed.

Naming Parameters

The development of the shortlist was guided by nine key parameters, which were informed by input from over 30,000 people during the URAC community engagement period in November/December 2021. While the names considered were not required to fulfil all of the criteria, names that either raised significant concern in a single parameter or raised some concern across multiple parameters were organically removed from longer lists by the group. Throughout the process of developing the short-list, committee members were encouraged to suggest the group reconsider names that had previously been removed if they felt there were undiscussed opportunities.

The community-informed naming parameters that guided the committee’s consideration of name ideas were:

Will the name serve the university well as it seeks to evolve, expand, and excel?

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter often did not align with other specific parameters and/or lacked boldness.

Will the university be easily confused with other institutions locally and/or globally?

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter were names that were too similar to other post-secondary institutions - primarily local competitors.

Does the name align with the university’s commitments and aspirations?

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter were grounded in the past or current identity of the university, such as names that included words like “institute” or “memorial.” 

Is the name unique and clear enough to be recognized and remembered by prospective students and scholars?

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter included terms that were confusing, unfamiliar or contained too many words.

Does the name follow expected naming formats of post-secondary institutions in a way that establishes credibility and recognizability? Would the name look appropriate on a parchment?

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter included names that didn’t clearly communicate university status or did not use standard post-secondary naming conventions. 

Will the name work on an international scale to support successful recruitment and growth aspirations?

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter failed the cultural or linguistic screening. Additionally, those that did not clearly indicate the geographic location of the institution 

Is the name exclusively reflective of present trends, or does it have the potential to resonate in five years? Ten years? Fifty years? 

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter included words that hold a particular meaning in this historical moment and may feel dated or be understood differently over the years. 

Is the name one that community members will like and take pride in? 

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter included names with undesirable acronyms, names that were cumbersome to say or difficult to pronounce, and names that felt boring or arrogant.

Will the name welcome all potential community members or will there be people who feel excluded? Does the name invite division or exclusion by centering a particular area of the community? 

Examples of names that did not align with this parameter included words that are not present in the English language, commemorative names, and names more relevant to particular fields such as “polytechnic” or “creative.” 

Roles in renaming

Members of the Advisory Committee provide guidance, expertise, perspectives and input to support the committee in fulfilling its mandate. The membership’s objective is to identify opportunities and inform processes that are in the best interest of the university community and the university’s future. Through an iterative process, the committee will help narrow potential names to a shortlist to be confirmed by the chair.

The committee will have the support of external professionals to assist in the renaming process. The university will engage a firm to advise and implement a research plan to foster engagement with internal and external communities and a naming firm to facilitate the filtering of suggested names to a shortlist.

Community engagement is a key piece of the renaming process, and participation from students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader community will inform the decision process. The renaming committee will conduct an engagement period where all community members are invited to share ideas, opinions and perspectives. We invite stakeholders to connect with their communities to share news and information throughout the renaming process.