2019-2020 Graduate Bulletin

Preferred Name Usage

Preferred Name 

The University of Denver is aware that many of its constituents routinely use a first name or full name other than their legal name. As part of being a welcoming and inclusive campus, DU has implemented changes to increase the use of preferred names in the course of DU business and education.

Because use of legal name is necessary in certain records and communications, both the legal name and preferred name (if desired) are stored in DU's information systems. Full implementation of the use of preferred names will be a process that occurs over time. When a student or employee contacts a DU office in person or by phone, the staff in that office may only have electronic access to the legal name.

What is a "Preferred Name?"

DU maintains two types of Preferred Names: 1) A preferred first name; and 2) A chosen/professional name.

A first name by which an individual wishes to be identified that is other than the individual's legal name is a "preferred first name". Students and employees can submit a preferred first name online. DU will work toward using preferred first name in most instances such as correspondence and online applications. In some instances the preferred first name will be displayed in addition to legal name, for example: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Lady Gaga).

If an individual's preferred identity includes a different surname or wishes to limit the display of their legal name, they may specify a "chosen/professional" name. This "chosen/professional name" will replace the legal name in most cases as the University is able to implement them. For example, chosen/professional name of Shania Twain would replace the legal name of Eileen Regina Edwards.

While DU will work toward primary use of the preferred first name or chosen/professional name in most instances, students and employees should be aware that the use of the legal name will continue to be necessary in certain communications and processes due to DU business or legal requirements and/or system limitations.

Students may also specify a "diploma name" to use on DU diplomas. Additional information on diploma names can be found here: http://www.du.edu/registrar/records/diplomas.html.

What are the reasons for using Preferred Names?

Many members of the DU community use a first name or full name that differs from their legal name. These may include individuals who prefer to use:

  •  a middle name instead of a first name;
  • a nickname;
  • an anglicized name;
  • names with special characters: e.g., Renée, François, Zoë, Sørina, Peña
  • a name to which the individual is in the process of legally changing;
  • a name that better represents the individual's gender identity;
  • a name that reflects professional activities, publications, etc.

How has DU begun to use Preferred Names?

DU began using preferred names in certain internally developed processes such as the online directory several years ago. Our information systems have recently been enhanced to include preferred names in other places such as the Student Profile and class lists. However, initially, many systems and processes (including, but not limited to: student bills, transcripts, and health records) will continue to display only the legal name. Going forward, and in a manner consistent with legal and/or business requirements, DU will continue to implement processes by which the preferred name, not the legal first name, may be used.

Campus departments are being encouraged to use preferred names in their business practices.

How can I request that my preferred name be entered in DU information systems?

Members of the DU community can submit a preferred first name online now. Log onto PioneerWeb. Click the "MyWeb" tab. Expand the menu and click "Personal Information." Click "Update Preferred First Name" and submit your preferred first name. Preferred first names can be removed by clicking Update with nothing in the field.

To update your "chosen/professional name" obtain the Name Change Request Form here: http://www.du.edu/registrar/media/documents/namechange.pdf. Submit the form to the office indicated in the instructions. The form may not be submitted electronically. Chosen/professional names may be removed by the same form.

Where will my Preferred Name be used?

It is the University's intent to use Preferred Name in most public-facing uses. This would include written communications, web displays and internal reports and processes. Preferred Name is already used in the DU online directory, class and grade lists and in selected online applications. Full implementation of the use of Preferred Name will take place over time. Not all University departments will have access to Preferred Name while interacting with students.

Where will my legal name be used?

Use of legal name is necessary for certain data exchanges such as those to government agencies that verify the identity of a student by using the student's legal name. These include (but are not limited to) transcripts, payroll, tax, insurance, banking, financial aid and federal or state reporting.

Can I request any Preferred Name I want?

Individuals may designate a preferred name with which they identify and by which they prefer to be known. DU reserves the right to deny a request to include a preferred name in its information systems if the request is fraudulent, carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency, or violates University Regulations and/or Student Code of Conduct.

Do I have to use a Preferred Name?

No. The decision to submit a request to include a Preferred Name for DU's information systems is entirely optional.

Can I get a new Pioneer card with my Preferred Name?

DU will issue a new ID card, upon request, for students or employees who have requested a chosen/professional name. ID cards do not reflect preferred first names.

Can I get a new email address with my Preferred Name?

DU will provide a new DU email address, upon request, for students or employees who have requested a chosen/professional name. For further information, contact the UTS Computer Help Center: http://www.du.edu/uts/helpdesk/.

Pronoun Usage

Gender Designation & Personal Pronoun Self-identification Changes Summary and FAQ

This is a resource for affiliates making or updating self-identification selections in the University's information systems.


Identity: Legal Sex

Options Offered: 

  • Male

  • Female

  • I elect not to self-identify at this time

Explanation: For DU's required reporting, and to avoid even appearance of identity fraud, this must match current government designation.

Identity: *Gender Designation

Options Offered: 

  • Man

  • Woman

  • Non-binary

  • I elect not to self-identify at this time

  • Option not listed

Explanation: Consistent, lived identity. Unlike legal sex or anatomical descriptors, this is the level at which most people interact with others. 

Identity:  *Personal Pronouns

Options Offered: 

  • he/him/his

  • she/her/hers

  • they/them/theirs

  • I elect not to self-identify at this time

  • Option not listed

Explanation: Term used as stand-in for name in conversation and correspondence.

Identity: Prefix/Honorific

Options Offered:  (e.g., Mr/Mrs/Ms/Mx, Dr, Hon, Prof, Rev)

Explanation: Optional title or honorific used in formal greeting or correspondence. Some are traditionally based on gender, age, and/or marital status.1


What is changing? 
DU is adding fields to its information systems, allowing affiliates the option to self-identify by gender identity and pronouns. This is in addition to existing demographic information already requested of all affiliates.

Why are we asking? 
Largely for our legal reporting requirements, the University of Denver already asks affiliates to self-identify by current legal sex (often coded as "gender"), race/ethnicity, veteran status, and disability.

We are expanding optional self-identification categories related to gender identity in order to allow us to understand and acknowledge our constituents more accurately and inclusively.

How will this information be used? 
Your legal name and sex will remain the University's default data unless you actively make other selections, adding additional information to your record (e.g. chosen/professional name, gender designation, etc.).

Most immediately, the University will use aggregate information to understand campus demographics better, and to improve our acknowledgement of and services to our diversity of communities. This can include more robust support resources, enhanced training for service providers, more accurate reports, and potential advocacy to external reporting agencies for improving their systems.

If an affiliate has added a chosen/professional name, it is already included in many university systems, and can be used on Pioneer ID cards. (www.du.edu/registrar/records/preferredname.html)

With this additional information, we are working to better connect various other campus software systems so that your best name, pronouns and salutations are available from the central database, and are used consistently, accurately and respectfully by all affiliates. Ideally, every University interaction would be informed by the appropriate info: employees having over the phone and in-person conversations, and auto-generated message and online records would all use your correct names and pronouns. However, please note that we cannot yet guarantee that every communication (in person, online, in writing) will use these selections. This is a work in progress.

Who will have access to this information? 
With the exception of student "directory information" (see below and www.du.edu/registrar/privacy), access to all affiliate information is restricted by law and policy to University officials, and to those whom students have authorized access.

Like most other personal information, an affiliate's legal sex and gender designation are not considered directory information and are not released, accessed or used without permission. However, students who sign FERPA releases for their parents/guardians/others should understand that this identifier information can be requested/disclosed.

As part of a student's name, prefix/honorific, titles are considered directory information and will be used publicly. 

All affiliates should consider that providing this information to DU does make it available within restrictions above, and so should provide thoughtfully and intentionally. 

Where I can check and/or update my current information?

  • Prospective students and employees are asked some basic demographics when applying.
  • Affiliates can update personal information through PioneerWeb.

The categories offered don't match how I identify. 
We recognize that even these expanded options do not represent all the categories that DU affiliates use to describe themselves. (For example, while not DU-specific, a 2010 study of US campuses received more than three thousand distinct gender identity labels. 2 )

We are using the additional fields and these expanded options to gauge constituent interest and institutional utility. We plan to follow up with various campus constituencies to assess how we might improve descriptors, and potentially offer more and better options in the future.

What if I do not make a selection in the expansion fields? 
The expanded fields are optional, but encouraged; and a "prefer not to respond" option is available. Unless you indicate something different, your legal name and sex will remain the default in all systems; other fields will note "not available" or be blank.

Why don't you ask other identities? 
Based in part on participation and usage success of these fields, we are considering whether and how to expand, secure, and use additional categories to describe and serve our communities better. Stay tuned for opportunities to help shape those efforts.

I have additional questions. 
Please contact your respective data manager:

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