At last, the Owen Glenn Building at Auckland University is officially open. The business school is open for business and the nation's future middle managers now have a place they can call home. And the name of the donor will be remembered for ever: Mr Glengarry (or was it Mr Glenross?) has been immortalised in plate glass and steel.
Whatever his name, he seems to have made a shrewd deal: for a mere seven million bucks, he has naming rights to a building that cost a great deal more, $220 million. Back in the day, the likes of Carnegie, Mellon and Gulbenkian had to fork out huge amounts of dosh, paying for entire buildings, while Mr Glenmorangie has achieved a leveraged naming. I suppose it is this sort of business acumen which put him in the position of having seven million to give away.
As for the rest of the bill, it has been paid in part by others who also have ensured that their generosity is remembered. So the school has an ASB Atrium and a Fisher and Paykel Appliances Lecture Theatre. Quite why only one division of Fisher and Paykel has been honoured is a mystery; staff in the other division, which deals with medical stuff, must be wondering what they did wrong, especially since they make most of the company's profits. There is also a John Hood Plaza, to remember the man who made it all possible and who is unlikely to be so honoured at Oxford, where he has made himself very unpopular very quickly. The Government has contributed $21 Million, but has its name on nothing.
Elsewhere in the University, opportunities abound: there are many places that have yet to be named after a corporate sponsor. My own Department, Art History, is housed in a building that appears to have no name at all. If you, dear reader, have some millions to spare, you may wish to consider having the building named after me.
Also seemingly nameless is the space outside the main library. It was once occupied by the building which housed the Philosophy Department. For some reason (perhaps a coup by Immaterialists) the University decided to remove the building and replace it with nothing but some seats and some plants. I find this behaviour very peculiar, removing a perfectly usable building and replacing it with a void. The University also removed a perfectly good footbridge nearby, which crossed Alfred Street and connected the library with the Student Union Building. Quite what good was achieved by removing the bridge and so exposing the students to the elements and to the traffic is a mystery.
In any case, the space outside the library remains nameless. I suggest it be named the Dewey Decimal Plaza.