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Name changes highlight Board of Regents action agenda

Renaming was the name of the game at yesterday’s Board of Regents meeting, as UW’s leadership gave permission to change the name of various academic and athletic facilities at both the Seattle and Bothell campuses.

Arguably the biggest of the name changes came from the UW athletic department’s proposal to rename Hec Edmundson Pavilion arena.

The arena, which was previously sponsored by Bank of America, will now be known as the “Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.”

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Scott Woodward spoke positively about the new partnership with the locally-based company.

“We are really proud to recognize a relationship that connects Alaska Airlines with the University of Washington,” he said. “[There is a] great corporate partner in Alaska who is a great fit with who we are as an athletic department.”

Similar to the Bank of America’s agreement, Alaska Airlines has naming rights that include signage on the outside of the pavilion and on the basketball court floor.

Regent Kristianne Blake posed questions about the arrangement and some of the benefits the airlines would provide.

“You are getting $25,000 per year … is that travel you would normally pay for as part of your budget already?” Blake asked. “You’re [also] getting MVP gold memberships, how will those be used? Are they a budget offsetter or are they an additional benefit?”

Woodward explained that the department will use the $25,000 for traveling that they would have usually paid for and that the memberships would go to head coaches.

“Currently [we] have eight and we’re bumping it up to 20 … it’s for our coaches that recruit and travel,” Woodward said. “[It’s] one of these things we can take advantage of and don’t have to pay for.”

In addition to an existing trade agreement with Alaska Airlines that includes a discount on the number of flights per year and eight MVP gold memberships, the airlines has added 12 MVP gold memberships.

The athletic department also consented to naming the field at the University of Washington Husky Ballpark, “Chaffey Field,” honoring Herb Chaffey who has contributed over $3 million toward Husky Baseball.

The third name change of the day that was approved by the board was a proposal to name the Greenhouse and Wetlands Interpretive Center at UW Bothell, which has yet to be built, the “Sarah Simonds Green Conservatory.”

The naming is on behalf of the mother of the donor, UW alum Gordon Green, Ph.D., who offered to build the wetland education center and conservatory by donating $3.5 million, which will include two classrooms and a greenhouse.

UW Bothell Chancellor Kenyon Chan called Sarah Simonds Green “a pioneer of Bothell,” adding that her family “was one of the first families in Bothell.”

Additionally, regents gave permission to begin fundraising and donor-naming opportunities for the Intellectual House project, which will act as a home away from home for Native American members of the UW community. The project will provide multi-purpose classrooms and a 400-person capacity gathering room, and will be located across the street from McMahon Hall and next to Lewis Hall. It will also feature native plants and artwork.

Sheila Edwards Lange, the vice president of minority affairs and vice provost of diversity, hopes the project will honor the people of the Northwest region.

“It will allow us to have economic development partnerships with Northwest tribes,” she said. “[With increased] recruitment of native faculty and students.”

The $10.6 million project is scheduled to open in 2014.

Reach reporter Daron Anderson at news@dailyuw.com.

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