College Waits for $9.5m Gift to Name New Dorm

Shane Shuma ’22, Staff Writer

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Dickinson’s newest residence hall will remain the “High Street” dorm for the foreseeable future, but the college will leave open the option of offering a naming opportunity to donors who give $9.5 million or more.

“It’s actually really important to preserve that [building] as a naming opportunity for the future,” said Kirk Swenson, vice president for College Advancement. “It’s a pretty powerful incentive for some people.”

The new dorm was built for close to $19 million, as reported in a Mar. 2017 article in The Sentinel. The “rule of thumb” for qualifying to name a building is to donate at least half the cost of construction, said Swenson. In this case that number would be around $9.5 million. 

“We certainly have many prospective donors who have the potential to make gifts in that range,” though not this year, said Swenson. “There’s not somebody waiting in the wings,” he said. 

Once a donor gifts $9.5 million or more, the college would submit candidates to the Board of Trustees, would “make that final determination,” said Swenson. “If the question is when we are going to get it named, I have no idea,” he said.

In the past, new buildings at Dickinson were not necessarily named through this process. The Durden Athletic Training Center near Biddle Field was named after former Dickinson President William Durden, for example.

The new naming process is a product of Dickinson’s evolving Advancement and fundraising programs. “That’s really a best practice and something the college has adopted in the past couple of years,” said Swenson.

Swenson said some donors have stepped forward to indicate an interest in smaller naming opportunities within the new dorm project. “There are a couple of gifts that are either in process or under consideration that might name certain high-profile spaces,” he said.

Offering naming opportunities to donors is a way to “say we’re grateful for that support; that we think it’s worthy of honoring,” said Swenson. This residence is the first dorm to be built on campus since 1972, “so we should preserve that as an opportunity,” he said.

For now, the new building will remain High Street residences, or the more colloquial “new dorm.”