Guidelines for Groundbreaking and Grand Opening Ceremonies


Create a celebration event which appropriately promotes the university, recognizes funding sources, and engages the university and broader community.


Groundbreaking, dedications, and naming ceremonies provide unique opportunities to demonstrate in human terms the programs and outcomes that emerge from new and renovated facilities. These events should be primarily about what happens inside the buildings as a way to introduce and showcase the facility and as a public way to honor and thank those entities and individuals whose contributions have made a significant impact on the university. Such recognition should be an integral part of the programming. These events are times of celebration in the life of the university, and should maintain a university-wide focus. Planning and marketing should be integrated, consistent with the university’s strategic plan and priorities.

Planning Committee Membership and Expectations for Involvement

The division/unit of the university which is linked most closely with the major source of funding will take the lead in organizing the committee. In cases of multiple funding sources, the leadership will be shared among the appropriate entities.

  • State and Federal funds: Governmental Relations
  • Private funding: Advancement
  • Student Fees: Student Affairs, i.e. the VP or head of the division/unit will appoint the committee chair

In every case the committee shall have a broad-based membership which includes representation from the following areas whose roles are indicated below:

  1. Office of Governmental Relations
    1. Chair or co-chair the committee and take the lead with planning the ceremony if state or federal funding is involved
    2. Supply invitation lists appropriate to the funding source. Lists include: Congressional delegation, state legislators, Governor and Lt. Governor, Board of Regents members, past UNI Presidents, Greater Cedar Valley Chamber of Commerce members and other chamber boards, ambassadors, mayors, and Cedar Valley Coalition
    3. Arrange for flags and appropriate placement
  2. Development
    1. Chair or co-chair the committee and take the lead with planning the ceremony if private funds are involved
    2. Ensure that any parts of the facility which are to be named have gone through the full approval process (University Naming Committee, Cabinet, President, Board of Regents) in advance of any announcements
    3. Supply invitation lists appropriate to the event, including the Foundation Board, and names solicited from family/individuals related to private contributions. The decision to invite the Presidents Club will be made by Advancement
    4. Consider the possibility of a donor wall or some other means to recognize the funding provided by a person or organization, i.e. Carver Hall in the McCollum Science addition
    5. Identify key donors to be noted in the program or acknowledged from the platform and to speak (if appropriate)
  3. Student Affairs
    1. Take lead on committee if funded by student fees
  4. The department(s) occupying the building:
    1. Supply invitation lists of faculty, staff, and emeritus
    2. Make suggestions for showcasing the facility and the educational activities associated with the building
    3. Identify students to participate and assist with the ceremony
    4. Plan complementary events which may be held in conjunction with the dedication
    5. Suggest speakers to represent the facility
    6. Suggest appropriate gift/token commemorating the event
    7. Assist with the program narrative regarding history and current information for the program
  5. Office of University Marketing and Public Relations
    1. Propose a marketing/public relations plan to maximize the impact of the event consistent with the University’s priorities
    2. Design and produce promotional materials approved by the committee, including invitations and programs, banners and other event materials, gift/token for distribution at the event, university fliers, etc.
    3. Implement publicity activities designed to inform both internal university audiences (UNI Web Site, MyUniverse, UNI-Online, Northern Iowan) and external audiences (media), etc.
    4. Provide appropriate directional and parking signage
  6. Alumni Relations
    1. Supply invitation lists appropriate to the event, including the Alumni Board, Parents Board, and alums
    2. Offer suggestions for the event of interest to UNI’s alums
  7. Facilities Planning/Physical Plant
    1. Keep the committee updated on the progress of the project and when the facility will be ready for the ceremony
    2. Give tours of the building to the committee if necessary with details of seating capacities, electrical, and computer hookups
    3. Provide a list of any unique or special features that distinguish the building
    4. Provide names and addresses of the contractors and architects to be invited to the event
    5. Provide layout of building or addition to be included in the program
    6. Ensure that the grounds, surrounding spaces, and interior are clean/orderly
  8. Northern Iowa Student Government
    1. Supply list of NISG officers and senators
    2. Recommend a speaker to represent the students
    3. Develop ideas to encourage greater student participation at the event
    4. Enlist student participants as ushers, tour leaders, etc.
  9. Public Safety
    1. Advise on the best parking lot utilization for the event patrons with considerations for handicapped parking, etc.
    2. Advise on traffic management for the event and determine if additional staff is necessary to facilitate traffic management, parking management, and to set up barriers
    3. Advise on Homeland Security issues as appropriate to current threat levels
  10. Dining Services
    1. Determine location and food for reception and cater event
  11. Other offices depending on the scope of the event
    1. Joe Marchesani, ITS – Educational Technology, is hired to video the event for University Archives
    2. Representative from the appropriate Dean’s office to provide extra suggests from the administration

Chairperson’s Responsibilities

  1. Establish committee based on the current Guidelines for Groundbreaking, Dedication, and Naming Ceremonies approved by Cabinet
  2. Educate the members of the committee on the purposes of the committee (see above) and review the planning guidelines
  3. Verify that “naming” associated with the facility has gone through the appropriate approval process (University Naming Committee, Cabinet, President, Board of Regents)
  4. Coordinate selection of program speakers
  5. Clarify with the committee expenses to be incurred and budget appropriately
  6. Determine a date for the event according to the President’s schedule, availability of speaker who represents the funding source for the project (i.e. Governor or designee and Regent President or designee for state funding), university calendar, other necessary speakers, readiness of the facility, and sufficient time to develop promotional materials
  7. Establish a viable event timeline
  8. Ensure decisions are made in a timely fashion
  9. Provide expertise in the area of event planning on the UNI campus
  10. Assist with setup such as ordering chairs, tables, podiums, and whatever else is needed to make the event a success
  11. Work with ITS on quality sound systems
  12. Help escort visiting dignitaries to and from airport, or whatever assistance is needed


Dates should be set in consultation with the President’s calendar, university calendar, and the availability of individuals who are part of the program. Date and time selection should maximize opportunities for broad-based participation from the university and community, and allow for programming that most effectively portrays the benefits that will accrue from the facility.

The individual departments/units may wish to sponsor other events and activities in connection with the ceremony, i.e. lectures, concerts, conferences, etc.

The individual departments/units may wish to sponsor other events and activities in connection with the ceremony, i.e. lectures, concerts, conferences, etc.

Minutes of all committee meetings should be kept and distributed to the Cabinet.

Decisions to be made by the committee:

  • Goals of the dedication
  • Program content
  • Site for event and backup for inclement weather
  • Speakers and presentation order
  • Ushers
  • Seating
  • Gift/Token
  • Decorations and setup on stage
  • Plants/flowers
  • Publicity
  • Flags
  • Extra Custodial Care
  • Ribbon cutting, banner or ceremony
  • Acknowledgements to be made
  • Signs
  • Tours
  • Refreshments
  • Music

Note: Final decisions should be the prerogative of the chair of the committee


The community building budget within the President’s Office shall cover expenses for buildings supported by state and federal appropriations. The UNI Foundation shall cover expenses for privately funded facilities. Jointly funded projects should be shared.

Expenses covered include: printing, postage, food, flowers, signs, publicity, music, and a small memento (approx. $1.00). Major variances need to be discussed with the lead division and funding sources identified.


An emcee shall be designated from the division or unit in which the building is placed.

  1. State/Federally Funded Facilities

    Speakers and/or platform guests should include the President of UNI, Governor or Lt. Governor, President of the Board of Regents or designee from the Board, a representative of the college or department which the facility services, and a student. Federally funded projects should also include the Senator/Congressional members who were responsible for obtaining the funds. Not all those honored need to speak, but should be recognized, i.e. state legislators and other elected officials.

  2. Privately Funded Facilities

    Speakers and/or platform guests should include the President of UNI, the President of the UNI Foundation, The President of the Board of Regents or designee, appropriate representation from the family/business/individual who made the gift, a representative from the college or department utilizing the facility, and a student. Depending on the scope of the gift, the Governor might also be included.


Invitations should be received three weeks in advance of the date of the ceremony.

Suggestions for invitations should be solicited from each member of the Cabinet, as well as the department that occupies the facility. Standard lists should include the following:

  1. State/Federally Funded Facilities
    1. Congressional Delegation
    2. Governor
    3. Lt. Governor
    4. All Legislators (150)
    5. Board of Regents, Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director, including Board members who served at the time the funding was requested and approved
    6. Past Presidents of the University
    7. Alumni Association Board
    8. Foundation Board
    9. Parents Board
    10. President’s Club
    11. Greater Cedar Valley Chamber of Commerce
    12. Cedar Falls and Waterloo Mayors
    13. Chamber Governmental Affairs Board
    14. Cedar Valley Coalition
    15. Cabinet, Deans, Department Heads, Directors
    16. Northern Iowa Student Government
    17. Faculty Senate
    18. P&S Council
    19. Architects/Contractors
    20. Names solicited from department utilizing the facility, including emeritus faculty or the department
  2. Privately Funded Projects (same as above with the following modifications)
    1. Local Legislators (six)
    2. Names solicited from family/individuals related to the private contribution

The invitation should be issued under the name of the President. In addition to the printed invitations sent to individuals listed above, all faculty staff and students should be notified through appropriate media. All normal channels of notifying the broader audiences and the media will be employed.

Approved by Cabinet October 17, 2008