I've been pleasantly surprised by how comprehensive UNC's policy on building names is. This is what it has to say about renaming:
If the benefactor's or honoree's reputation changes substantially so that the continued use of that name may compromise the public trust, dishonor the University's standards, or otherwise be contrary to the best interests of the University, the naming may be revoked. However, caution must be taken when, with the passage of time, the standards and achievements deemed to justify a naming action may change and observers of a later age may deem those who conferred an naming honor at an earlier age to have erred. Namings should not be altered simply because later observers would have made different judgments.
The policy recognizes a value in tradition; the question for me is how to balance that value against a change in reputation -- and a change in what the University now values from what it valued, say 90 years ago. I've been generally opposed to renaming because it permits forgetting -- in fact, facilitates forgetting. However, building names are also a form of cultural capital and perhaps at some point cultural capital should be redistributed -- or we should have a good reason why it is not to be redistributed. The usual reasons against redistribution of property don't apply here, I don't think. For instance, there are free vested rights that have grown up around names.
Most of the policy is about building naming in the first place -- and a lot deals with donors. There are some very specific guidelines about how much donors need to contribute for a name. Anyway, as I've been reading over UNC's policy regarding building naming (and renaming), I've started to wonder about what other universities' policies look like. So that set me to looking around and I see that while other schools having naming policies, none that I've come across so far as as comprehensive as UNC's. But I thought I'd start to compile a list of university naming policies; it's small so far, but I'm going to add some to this and if readers have ones they've come across I'd love to hear about those, too.
The image is of Elisha Mitchell Hall on the UNC campus, another of the nineteenth century figures who are central to this University's history.