2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin

Preferred Name Usage

Preferred First Names and Chosen/Lived/Professional Names

The University of Denver recognizes 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, the University of Denver uses preferred first names and chosen/professional names widely in in the course of DU business and education.

What is a "Preferred First Name” and what is a “Chosen/Lived/Professional Name?”

Beyond legal name, DU maintains two options for names which substitute in place of all or part of the legal name in University systems.

Preferred First 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." This is analogous to a nickname. Students and employees can submit a preferred first name online. The preferred first name will be displayed in addition to legal name rather than replace it, for example: Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (Shaq).

Chosen/Lived/Professional Name:
A chosen/lived/professional name is used in place of a legal name and replaces the legal name in most cases. This name option can include a first, middle and/or last name. For example, chosen/lived/professional name of Cardi B would replace the legal name of Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar.

Limitations on Use of Chosen/Lived/Professional Names
Because use of legal name is necessary in certain records and communications, both the legal name and chosen/lived/professional name are stored in DU's information systems. 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.

While DU will use of the chosen/lived/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.

More Information on Name Options

Reasons for using Preferred First Names or Chosen/Lived/Professional 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 to request a preferred first name be entered in DU information systems
Members of the DU community can submit a preferred first name online through MyDU.Type “profile” in the search, select My Person Profile.Preferred first names can be removed by clicking Update with nothing in the field.

How to request a chosen/lived/professional name be entered in DU information systems
To request your chosen/lived/professional name, you can complete and submit your request using our online form or our paper Name Change Request Form. Please submit the form to the office indicated in the instructions. Chosen/professional names may be removed using the same form.

Use of Names within DU Systems
DU displays preferred first names and chosen/lived/professional names in most public-facing uses. This includes written communications, web displays and internal reports and processes. Not all University departments will have access to preferred first names while interacting with students.

Use of Legal Name
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.

Name Designation Request Policy
Individuals may designate a preferred first name or chosen/lived/professional 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.

Pioneer Cards and 
The ID printing system will automatically pull your first and last name from the DU information platform.  You can request for your “preferred first name” to be used instead; simply let the ID office know prior to printing.  In order to use a preferred name, you must have added that name into the DU system and wait about 24 hours for the systems to fully update. 

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

Diploma Name
Students my also specify a 'diploma name' to use on DU diplomas. 

Gender Designation & Personal Pronouns

We've added fields to your information systems that allow members of our community to self-identify by gender identity and pronouns. DU already asks affiliates to self-identify by current legal sex (often coded as "gender"), race/ethnicity, veteran status and disability. By expanding our optional self-identification categories related to gender identity, we're able to understand and acknowledge our constituents more accurately and inclusively.

How Do I Update My Information?

Prospective students and employees are asked some basic demographics questions when applying, while current community members can update their personal information through MyDU.

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.

We recognize that even these expanded options do not represent all the categories that DU affiliates use to describe themselves. 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.

Identity Options Offered Explanation
Legal Sex
  • Male
For DU's required reporting, and to avoid even the appearance of identity fraud, this must match current government designation.
  • Female
  • I elect not to self-identify at this time
Gender Designation
  • Man
Consistent, lived identity. Unlike legal sex or anatomical descriptors, this is the level at which most people interact with others.
  • Woman
  • Non-binary
  • I elect not to self-identify at this time
  • Option not listed
Personal Pronouns
  • he/him/his
Term used as stand-in for name in conversation and correspondence.
  • she/her/hers
  • they/them/theirs
  • I elect not to self-identify at this time
  • Option not listed
  • Mr.
Example optional titles or honorifics used in formal greeting or correspondence. Some are traditionally based on gender, age and/or marital status.
  • Mrs.
  • Ms.
  • Mx.
  • Dr.
  • Hon.
  • Prof.
  • Rev.

How Will This Information Be Used?

Most immediately, the University will use aggregate information to understand campus demographics better, and to improve our acknowledgment of and services to our diverse 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.

With this additional information, we are working to better connect various campus software systems so that your preferred 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 phone and in-person conversations, auto-generated messages and online records would all use preferred names and pronouns. However, please note that we cannot yet guarantee every communication will use these selections.

Who Will Have Access to This Information?

With the exception of student directory information, access to all affiliate information is restricted by law and policy to University officials and those granted access by individual students.

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 be aware that providing this information to DU does make it available within the restrictions outlined above, so it should be provided thoughtfully and intentionally.

Back to Top