What's in a name?By Yunmi Choi
To get a better look at the stars, students at local community colleges will need the help of donors to fund a new planetarium. Enticing people to make such donations might be easier if district officials promise to put donors' name up in lights -- or at least on campus buildings.
Offering to name buildings after people could open a whole new area of funding, officials say. The board of trustees will consider spelling out a naming policy at its meeting tomorrow.
"There are all sorts of things we could do with this," said Barbara Christensen, director of community and government relations. "We could dedicate a certain space or even the backs of chairs."
There is no real policy concerning the naming of buildings in the San Mateo County Community College District right now. Although the district can technically name buildings after people who make "generous donations," there are no guidelines on what constitutes a "generous" sum.
There aren't any prospective donors right now, but Christensen said the board wants to have one in place since there are so many new projects in the pipeline.
Three major buildings are planned across the district in the next few years.
A new student center -- complete with a science annex -- is expected for completion within the next two years at Skyline College in San Bruno. A new science building is also under way at the College of San Mateo. Those projects are being funded in large part by a voter-approved bond measure. State funds are also paying for a new library and student services building at Ca?ada College in Redwood City.
Turning these projects into blockbusters could depend on how many private donations the district reaps in, however.
Trustee emeritus Tom Constantino -- who first floated the idea several years ago -- said it's the only way the district will be able to successfully complete its new buildings. Indeed, Vice Chancellor Jim Keller said the district's "dreams and desires" outpace the funds available to it.
"We just have more needs than resources," Constantino said.
For example, officials want a star projector for the planetarium at the new science building at the College of San Mateo. There are no funds for that amenity, however. Keller said the hope is a donor would step forward to fund it.
Right now, the district gets very few donations for buildings. Yet naming buildings after donors is a fairly regular practice among larger colleges and universities, Keller said. Now the board just needs to figure out how it wants to tap this potential pool of donations.
"There are no parameters right now," Christensen said. "Can we name rooms, plazas and sections of buildings? We have to get into that whole conversation."
Copyright ©2004 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 07/14/2004.