Preferred First Names & Chosen/Professional Names

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, 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/Professional Name?”

Beyond legal name, DU maintains two alternate name types 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, for example: Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (Shaq).

Chosen/Professional Name:
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" replaces the legal name in most cases. For example, chosen/professional name of Cardi B would replace the legal name of Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar.

Limitations on Use of Preferred First Names and Chosen/Professional Names
Because use of legal name is necessary in certain records and communications, both the legal name and preferred first name or chosen/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 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.

More Information on Preferred Names

Reasons for using Preferred First Names or Chosen/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 PioneerWeb. Students navigate to the Student tab, find the Student Information channel, and visit the My Person Profile link. Employees navigate to the Employee tab, find the My Resources channel, and visit the My Person Profile link. Preferred first names can be removed by clicking Update with nothing in the field.

How to request a chosen/professional name be entered in DU information systems
To update your chosen/professional name obtain the Name Change Request Form here. 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.

Use of Names within DU Systems
DU displays preferred first names and chosen/professional names in most public-facing uses. This includes written communications, web displays and internal reports and processes. Preferred Name is used in the DU online directory, class and grade lists and in selected online applications. 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/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 Email Addresses
DU will issue a new ID card, upon request, for students or employees who have requested a chosen/professional name and preferred first names.

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 IT Computer Help Center: https://www.du.edu/uts/helpdesk/.

Diploma Names
Students may also specify a "diploma name" to use on DU diplomas. Additional information on diploma names can be found here: https://www.du.edu/registrar/transcripts-grades-records/diplomas.