IMPACT

Why Groups Should Stop Naming Buildings After Billionaire Donors

Avery Fisher, center, founder of Fisher Radio, stands in front of the former philharmonic hall in New York Lincoln center on
Avery Fisher, center, founder of Fisher Radio, stands in front of the former philharmonic hall in New York Lincoln center on Sept. 20, 1973 after it was renamed in his honor. The hall was renamed after Fisher contributed what was said to have been millions of dollars for the maintenance of the hall and aid for young performers. With Fisher are Amyas Ames, left, chairman of the New York Philharmonic, which performs in the hall, and John Mazola, right, managing director of Lincoln center. (AP Photo/Richard Drew )

Lincoln Center’s announcement last week that David Geffen had contributed $100 million to put his name on a concert hall put front and center how willing big nonprofits are to do anything for a buck and how much fundraisers have encouraged one of the most distressing features in our society: The extraordinarily inflated egos of America’s growing number of multimillionaires and billionaires.

It’s hard today to find a gymnasium, laboratory, college dorm, hospital wing, or athletic field that is not named after a benefactor.

A generation ago, streets, buildings and some public institutions were named after people who had earned their reputations and celebrity status, not just because they had lots of money. That no longer seems to be the case.

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