Preferred Name Policy Tips for Faculty and Staff

The preferred name policy at Washington University in St. Louis provides all Danforth Campus students not enrolled in Medical Campus programs with the option to change their names in most university systems without pursuing a legal name change. Reasons for name changes may include: students known by names that are different from their names of record, students who have popular names who wish to use a different one, international students or other students who wish to adopt an English language name, or transgender or gender nonconforming students.

Display of Preferred Name

  • In most cases the preferred name will replace the name of record or legal name.
  • In some cases, the preferred name will display (parenthetically) alongside the name of record or legal name; i.e., in advising records, student health records.
  • Some documents will continue to require the use of legal name; i.e., official transcripts, financial documents.
University System Name Display
ADIS (Alumni & Development) Both preferred name and name of record
Athletics Both preferred name and name of record
Blackboard Preferred name only
ID Center Silver (Campus Card Services) Both preferred name and name of record
CAREERlink Preferred name only
Class Rosters Preferred name only
Egrades Preferred name only
OISS Database (WebISS) Both preferred name and name of record
WUGO Preferred name only
Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) Both preferred name and name of record
Simplicity (Cornerstone, Judicial Affairs) Both preferred name and name of record
SISAdmin Both preferred name and name of record
SISDocs Both preferred name and name of record
STAR (Student Financial Services) Both preferred name and name of record
Studio Abroad Both preferred name and name of record
Student Health Services Both preferred name and name of record
WUachieve Preferred name only
WebAdvising Both preferred name and name of record
WebFAC Advising Both preferred name and name of record
WebFAC Roster Preferred name only

Display of Preferred Name for Faculty

  • Rosters: The preferred name will replace the name of record on all class rosters. Please be aware that you may see name changes to spring rosters beginning in January as the pilot students update or remove their preferred names.
  • Grading Records: The preferred name will replace the name of record in EGrades and on grade records in WebFAC.
  • Advising Records: For those of you who also serve as major advisers, you will have access to both the preferred name and the name of record in the advising record. The preferred name will be displayed (parenthetically) in these records.

Tips for Implementation

If you are interested in having someone speak to your department about how to implement the preferred name policy, please contact Anna Warbelow at anna.warbelow@wustl.edu.


General Tips for Using Preferred Names

  • Always default to the preferred name. Students are encouraged to speak to faculty and staff about their name preferences for phone calls home, letters of recommendation, etc. However, if you have the opportunity have a private conversation with a student, it may be useful to ask a student the following questions: “I see you have a preferred name listed in your record, how would you like me to refer to you? Is this the name you would like me to use when I speak to other people at the university? Is this the name you would like me to use if I speak with your family members?”
  • Rosters are not static documents and can change at any time. Either work from an electronic roster or be sure to periodically print a new roster throughout the semester.
  • If there is ever confusion about who a student is, you can contact the University Registrar’s office for assistance. Students will continue to be linked to a student ID number.
  • Use the name printed on the front of the WUSTL ID card. The preferred name will appear on the front of the card. This name should match the name that appears on rosters and will be searchable in most systems. In cases of confusion, refer to the Student ID number on the card or the name of record as shown on the back of the card.

Impact on Students

The preferred name policy will impact many students in a variety of ways, but will have significant impact on international students and transgender and gender nonconforming students.


Tips for Supporting International Students Using a Preferred Name

  • We do not want students to feel pressured to change their names, and we all need to make a commitment to learn how to pronounce students’ names. See pronunciation guides: http://hearnames.com, http://www.cpp.edu/~pronunciation.
  • Understand the various reasons students choose to Anglicize their names.
    • One common reason is for the convenience of English speakers; they are tired of having to correct others’ pronunciation, etc.
    • Many international students were assigned English names in English language classes in early education. Many of these students continue to use these names in the context of English education, which includes their time at Washington University.
    • For some students adopting an Anglicized name helps them to feel more connected to and comfortable in their new U.S. setting.
  • Be respectful and understanding of a student’s decision to change their preferred name more than once. Some international students may change their adopted English name multiple times while at Washington University.
    • Some students may take some time, especially during their first semester, to test out a few Anglicized names in their process of becoming more comfortable in the new culture.
    • Late in their time at WUSTL some students may return to using their names of record because of a renewed sense of connection with home or their country of origin.
  • Contact the Office of International Students and Scholars for more information about how to support this population.

Tips for Supporting Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students Using a Preferred Name

  • For transgender and gender nonconforming students, we need to make every effort to respect and affirm their gender identity. Many transgender students adopt a preferred name as an important step towards expressing their true gender identity.
  • When you have access to name of record, consider that name confidential information. Using a student’s name of record with others in the university community could “out” a transgender or gender nonconforming student and jeopardize safety. It is also important to use the preferred name in individual contact with the student.
  • Use the student’s preferred pronouns when speaking with or about the student. Often for transgender students, a name change is accompanied by a change in pronouns. For more information about preferred pronouns visit lgbt.wustl.edu.
  • Receive and renew SafeZones training to keep yourself informed about issues transgender and gender nonconforming students face and how to serve as an ally to all LGBT students. To request training for your office contact Anna Warbelow at anna.warbelow@wustl.edu.

Please contact the Office of the University Registrar with any questions regarding this policy and process.