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University Policy 125

Preferred Name Policy

Initially Approved:  February 25, 2019

Policy Topic:  Academic Affairs; Student Activities and Services
Administering Office:  Office of the Chancellor


Western Carolina University (University or WCU) recognizes that faculty, staff, and/or students may prefer to use a name that is different from their legal name on certain university documents and correspondences.  To the maximum extent possible, the university will respect the wishes of its faculty, staff, and students and use the preferred name in certain instances as described in this policy.


This policy applies to all students, staff, and faculty of Western Carolina University (Covered Individual).  The use of a Preferred Name, pursuant to this policy, is at the complete discretion of the Covered Individual.  Western Carolina University may not mandate the use of a Preferred Name for any Covered Individual.


  1. The term “Preferred Name” shall refer to the name that a Covered Individual wishes to be known by in the University community that is different from the person’s Legal Name and resides in the official student information system.
  2. The term “Legal Name” shall refer to the name that appears on a Covered Individual’s passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, or U.S. Social Security Card and may be comprised of a first Legal Name, one or more middle Legal Names, and a last Legal Name.
  3. The term “WCUID” shall refer to an account created in WCU’s corporate Active Directory as an individual’s identity for most WCU licensed systems. WCUID accounts are accounts that end in (faculty/staff) or (student) and the password that is unique and set by each user.


WCU shall develop a process and procedure to assist with the timely request and processing of Preferred Name addition and/or change requests.


  1. A Covered Individual may request two (2) Preferred Name additions or modifications per academic year. Additional changes to or modifications of the Covered Individual’s Preferred Name shall be made at the discretion of the Registrar or designee.
  2. A Covered Individual may, at any time, chose to remove a Preferred Name and use a Legal Name.
  3. A Preferred Name shall neither fraudulent or misrepresent the Covered Individual nor shall it be inappropriate or offensive.
  4. A Preferred Name shall only appear in place of the Covered Individual’s first Legal Name and shall not replace either the Covered Individual’s middle Legal Name or last Legal Name.
  5. Nothing in this policy should be construed to constitute or associate a legal name change or confer any legal status or protection on the Covered Individual’s Preferred Name.
  6. The ability to use or incorporate a Preferred Name shall be a consideration of future information, information management, or database system purchases and/or upgrades but shall not necessarily be a deciding factor with regard to same.
  7. WCU shall make a good faith effort to update reports, documents, and systems to adhere to the spirit of this policy.  As reports, documents, and systems begin to use the Preferred Name, they shall be added to Section VI.a below.


  1. The Preferred Name may appear, as possible, in the following locations:

    1. Covered Individual’s printed Cat Card, pursuant to this policy;
    2. Class Roster(s) generated by the WCU’s student information system;
    3. The official WCU learning management system;
    4. Official WCU directories, unless the information is withheld pursuant to law or policy;
    5. Information used by the Western Carolina University Advising Center that is generated by WCU’s student information system;
    6. Graduation ceremonies; and
    7. The printed diploma.

  2. The Preferred Name or a derivative thereof may not appear in the following locations:

    1. WCUID;
    2. Financial Aid;
    3. Transcripts;
    4. National Student Clearinghouse;
    5. Certifications;
    6. Athletics Rosters;
    7. Campus Police;
    8. Emergency Services;
    9. Any behavior and/or discipline record and/or system;
    10. Any medical or medical history database system;
    11. Any business or other process that may require the use of a Legal Name; and
    12. Any legal or other requirement that may result in the use of a Legal Name.

  3. It is understood and expected that systems may be added to either VI.a or VI.b as necessary and with the appropriate approval from university administrators.


The University hereby establishes a standing Preferred Name Committee (PNC).  The PNC shall be comprised of the following members: 

  • Representative from the Legal Counsel Office, who shall serve as co-chair;
  • Representative from the Office of the Provost, who shall serve as co-chair;
  • Chief Diversity Officer;
  • Dean of Students;
  • Representative from the Division of Student Affairs, named at the discretion of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs;
  • One representative from the Division of Information Technology, named at the discretion of the Chief Information Officer; and
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
  • Representative from the Western Carolina University Student Government Association
  • Two representatives from the Western Carolina University Staff Senate;
  • A faculty member named by the LGBTQ+ Working Group; and
  • One representative from the Western Carolina University Faculty Senate


This policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary every four (4) years.


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