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A New Name for SLAC

(Photo)The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has asked the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to work with them in renaming SLAC. SLAC Director Persis Drell has been informing employees of the coming change during her recent meetings with laboratory work groups.

Discussing the proposed name change, Persis said, “SLAC has a long, illustrious history and the name evokes that history. However, our stakeholders have suggested that the name is also no longer fully representative of the laboratory with its increased involvement in photon science and particle astrophysics in addition to our particle physics program.” She emphasizes that changing the name of the laboratory in no way diminishes the historical achievements of which the SLAC community is proud. Rather, she says, this as an opportunity to create a new name that better reflects the broader laboratory SLAC is evolving into.

SLAC is not the first national laboratory to change its name. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were all born under different names. Despite name changes, those laboratories have successfully established a continuity of excellence and reputation.

Over the past several years and largely because of the increased possibility of different contractors operating DOE-owned National Laboratories due to contract competitions, the Department of Energy has asserted the right of ownership in the name of all its National Laboratories, including “Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.” In accordance with this practice, DOE has been filing formal registration papers with the United States Patent and Trademark Office as one means of manifesting that right of ownership in the name of its National Laboratories. In the case of the Department’s filing with respect to SLAC, Stanford University has expressed its objection to the DOE formally asserting a property right in any name that includes the word “Stanford” or any variation thereof. The DOE is willing to look for a name that doesn’t include “Stanford,” since the DOE's paramount interest is to choose a name that will reflect the new nature of the laboratory.

Removing the word Stanford does not indicate any change in the relationship between the laboratory and the University. Persis noted that Stanford University President John Hennessy explicitly mentioned a strengthening of ties between Stanford and SLAC when he introduced Under Secretary of Energy Ray Orbach during a speech at SLAC recently.

To help with the process of developing a list of suggested names, Persis has asked a committee of representatives from around the lab to come up with a set of possibilities to put forward to the DOE and Stanford for consideration. The decision on the name of the new laboratory rests with the DOE. The committee members are Kelly Gaffney (PULSE), David Harris (Communications), Britt Hedman (SSRL), Carmella Huser (Human Resources), Shamit Kachru (PPA) and Rafe Schindler (PPA).

Persis asks that members of the SLAC community share their comments and suggestions of names with the committee by submitting them through the form at the following link.


David Harris, SLAC Today, July 8, 2008