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Faculty Senate votes for Cornell Botanic Gardens naming

The Cornell faculty Senate on Oct. 12 passed a resolution encouraging the board of trustees to approve “Cornell Botanic Gardens” as the new name of Cornell Plantations.

Fifteen faculty members from several colleges and schools across the university sponsored the resolution urging the board to affirm the proposed name change, “so that Cornell’s botanic gardens, arboretum and natural areas may be represented by a more relevant name, and thus reach broader audiences.”

University trustees are expected to vote on the proposed name change at their Oct. 28 meeting.

Approval by the Senate follows a wave of support from key campus stakeholders since the new name was first publicly proposed in August as part of a broad rebranding effort. That announcement came after a two-year process to determine whether the Plantations name fits the mission, vision and values of the organization, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and the university. The process included discussion and feedback from stakeholders to gauge support for a rebranding effort that more clearly identifies the organization as a public garden, with an arboretum and natural areas.

“The name Cornell Botanic Gardens instantly evokes what anyone can expect to find here at Cornell,” said Christopher Dunn, the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director. “Our current name requires constant explanation and bears little relationship to our mission of environmental conservation and education.”

The resolution passed by the Senate describes efforts by leadership at Plantations and CALS to explore whether a new name better captures the breadth of the organization’s mission and Cornell’s natural beauty. With its vote, the Faculty Senate affirmed its support for that process and its backing of Cornell Botanic Gardens as the new name.

Similar support has been voiced in stakeholder committees across campus. The university’s Capital Funding and Priorities Committee supported the name change at its August meeting, and the Cornell Board of Trustees’ Buildings and Properties Committee unanimously supported the proposal in September. The Employee Assembly and Graduate and Professional Student Assembly have also adopted resolutions supporting the change.

Matt Hayes is managing editor and social media officer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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