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HCC may seek corporate sponsors

April 27, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

"This classroom brought to you by Sprint."

Such messages could become common at Hagerstown Community College if a fund-raising proposal is approved.

The Hagerstown Community College Foundation is considering a plan to name buildings after donors as a means of encouraging monetary gifts. The proposal would allow philanthropists and corporations to literally make their marks on campus.

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"Our purpose is to seek out and identify qualified donors and bring the names to the board of trustees," Foundation Vice Chairman Pete Low told the trustees Tuesday.

Low recommended establishing a policy for naming areas of campus from parking lots to lecture halls.

Under the proposal, future buildings could be named for donors who give at least 50 percent of the construction costs. Existing buildings without names could be named for donors who contribute $1 million, although that amount could change.

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"The market may or may not bear a $1 million donation," said Low. "We haven't tested the water."

The proposal includes other dollar amounts for smaller facilities, such as $250,000 for a computer lab or lecture hall. Naming rights for small areas such as classrooms could go for $100,000 and walkways or parking areas would "cost" $25,000.

Low said even smaller components of the campus could be named, such as a floor, an elevator or an individual room. He said color-coded blueprints of buildings could be used to market the various areas to potential donors.

Highly visible buildings such as the new Learning Resource Center easily could be marketed, according to Low.

"I don't think it would be hard to jump-start a campaign on that facility," he said.

If no $1 million donations were offered for an entire building, naming rights for individual areas of the building might raise that much, he said.

The Foundation is a nonprofit organization separate from the college. Low said he hoped most of the money raised by naming college facilities could be used for student scholarships.

Individual donors, however, may have specific wishes about how their money will be used, he said.

HCC's Board of Trustees would have sole discretion to accept, reject or modify every naming proposal, he said.

Trustee Carolyn Brooks asked if the signs used to honor the donors would be tasteful.

"You wouldn't be considering company logos?" she asked, joking about the golden arches.

"I can't say we've taken a position one way or the other," said Low, who pointed out that a campus ATM already bears the emblem of Home Federal.

Logos are everywhere, he said.

"It's pretty hard to get around it. I don't think it has a stigma ... Corporate America has an interest in education. Corporate sponsorship is doable. I don't think it detracts from the education process."

The board unanimously endorsed the concept of a naming policy but asked for more details about the procedure.

"I think it's an excellent idea," said Trustee James D. Latimer. "I think it's something we ought to pursue."

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