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Denaming Proposals

Process for Considering Denaming Proposals

The Office of the President and Provost has established a process for considering denaming requests for names attached to Harvard buildings, spaces, programs, professorships, and other entities. These procedures are guided by the final report of the Committee to Articulate Principles on Renaming, which was convened by President Bacow in 2020.

Guiding principles

In its report, the Committee to Articulate Principles on Renaming offered several principles that could guide decisions around denaming and renaming. From these recommendations, the University has formalized guiding principles for considering requests for denaming as follows:

  1. Because this is an academic institution dedicated to research and teaching, all efforts should be grounded in historical inquiry and in careful deliberation and investigation.
  2. The decision to remove a name should not be undertaken lightly.  It should be informed by deep examination and learning, and the process leading to the decision should be characterized by reason, persuasion, and discussion that is robust, respectful and generous.
  3. The judgment about whether to initiate a review should rest primarily on the completeness of the submission, not the number of identified proponents or the strength of their convictions.
  4. The process should reflect compassion for the members of our community and a commitment to their full participation in our mission.
  5. The process should approach our history with humility, in recognition of the imperative to remember but with the courage to reckon with past actions or beliefs that were flawed. 
  6. Community consensus is not a prerequisite to act on a request, but there is an expectation that any request that moves forward to review will allow for the solicitation of views from stakeholders.

Submitting a request

Any current faculty member, staff member, or enrolled student at Harvard with a direct connection to the entity in question is eligible to submit a denaming request.

A complete request must meet all requirements detailed in the University Process for Considering Requests for Denaming.

Requests may be submitted via email to Submissions will be accepted once per semester, during the months of October and March. To be considered, each request must be submitted within the period of October 1-31 for the fall term or March 1-31 for the spring term.

University review process

Once a request has been submitted, it will undergo an initial administrative review that does not factor in the merits of the request. This will result in one of three outcomes:

  • The request advances to a substantive review;
  • The request does not qualify for further review because it is incomplete, the requestor is ineligible, and/or the request pertains to a name that has been recently considered; or
  • The request is referred to another School or unit for consideration under their own procedures.

For requests that advance to a substantive review, the Office of the President will appoint a dedicated advisory committee to undertake the review. Each committee will work in conjunction with other School or University offices to provide a final recommendation that the President either:

  • Take no action;
  • Dename; or
  • Keep the name but contextualize it.