Some students and faculty don’t like the idea.

Kellie Woodhouse reports at Inside Higher Ed.

How Much for a Name?

When donors give $100 million to an institution, many expect gratitude, not criticism. But a recent nine-figure donation to New York University’s engineering school garnered the latter after many students and alumni balked at the name change that came along with the gift.

The controversy comes soon after a judge blocked Paul Smith’s College from changing its name for a donation. While that case had some unique legal features, both controversies illustrate that changing a name may not always be simple.

After the NYU engineering school posted news of the gift and name change on Facebook, the post was flooded with dozens of comments deriding the renaming. And nearly 1,300 students, alumni and other supporters have signed a petition against changing the school’s name from the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering to the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, in honor of donors Chandrika and Ranjan Tandon.

Many opponents say they’re thankful for the gift but believe the name change damages the engineering school’s brand. “No donation, no matter how significant, should allow for 161 years of heritage and educational excellence to be erased overnight,” the petition reads.

The engineering school, in its current form, is the result of a 2014 merger, and in the last decade has experienced several name changes, being called at times the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, the Polytechnic University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York. This is the first name change to drop the “polytechnic” part of the name, and for many alumni and students, some of whom were not happy about becoming part of NYU, it’s one name change too many.

“‘Polytechnic’ is the only name that survived through all of these name changes,” said Henry Bertoni, a former faculty member at the engineering school who now serves on the alumni association’s executive council. “There’s an emotional reaction by some of the alumni to the name change.”