Preferred Name Policy

    Who is covered by this policy?

    This policy covers active students, faculty and staff.

    What is a legal name?

    Your legal name is the name that you were given at birth and which appears on a birth certificate recognized by a government or other legal entity, or the name which appears on a marriage certificate or other government issued document (e.g. court order) on which a legal name change is recorded.

    What does 'first name' and 'last name' mean in the United States' cultural context?

    In the United States, your 'given name' would be the equivalent of the 'first name' and your 'surname' would be the equivalent of the 'last name'.

    What is a preferred first name?

    A preferred first name is a name that you choose to be called that is different from your legal first name.

    What is Clark's preferred first name policy?

    The University recognizes that some community members wish to use a first name other than a legal first name to identify themselves. The University refers to this as a preferred first name. As long as the use of this different first name is appropriate and not for the purpose of misrepresentation or an attempt to avoid a legal obligation, the University will display a preferred first name in place of your legal first name in many, but not all, internal systems and reports. Clark reserves the right to remove any preferred first name that is deemed inappropriate.

    Can I use my preferred first name for everything at the University?

    No. Your preferred first name can only be used in certain situations because of legal requirements or system limitations. In some cases, if you indicate a preferred first name, it may be necessary to clarify that your preferred name is different than your legal name. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, official interactions with law enforcement, and verification of medical records. 

    The University is working towards a consistent name experience across University systems and the use of preferred name everywhere, except when legal name is necessary or required modifications to a particular system to accommodate preferred first name is prohibitive. 

    Where will preferred first name be used?

    The university will attempt to display preferred first name to the University community where feasible and appropriate, and make a good faith effort to update reports, documents and systems accordingly. Currently, the University will display a preferred first name in place of your legal first name in the following areas:

    • Clark OneCard
    • Clark Account
    • Email address
    • Email display
    • ClarkYOU portal
    • Moodle learning management system
    • Slate admissions portal
    • Directory listings (telephone, online, hardcopy)
    • L*I*N*K
    • Email list server interface
    • Campus registration and password expiration notices
    • SmartBuyPlus display name

    If you have a preferred first name in Clark's Banner information system prior to your Clark Account being established, Clark will create your Clark Account username and email address using your preferred first name instead of your legal first name (for example, you provided a preferred name on your admissions application or your employment application). If you elect to add/change a preferred first name to your University name record at a later date, most of the system updates referenced above occur nightly so changes to these electronic systems should occur within 24 hours of processing. 
    Some systems do not update automatically. For example, updates to your Clark Account username and email address do not happen automatically based off a change to preferred first name. If you wish to change your Clark Account username and email address to reflect a preferred first name, you will need to contact the ITS HelpDesk as these changes need to be coordinated to ensure no break in your electronic experience at Clark. Changing your Clark Account username and email address to more closely resemble your preferred first name is optional and not required.
    Other systems, such as SmartBuyPlus and the printing of your Clark OneCard, can be changed by request only. 

    Where will the University continue to use my legal first name?

    Some University departments interact with, and send reports to, federal, state and other third party services that verify the identity of faculty, staff and students using the legal name and other personally identifiable information which prohibits the use of a preferred first name. In these cases, your legal first name will appear on all other University records and communications such as:

    • Transcripts (official and unofficial)
    • Official enrollment and degree verification documents
    • Student billing and student accounts (including e-Bills)
    • Financial aid and scholarship records
    • Medical records
    • Insurance documents
    • Benefits enrollment
    • Retirement documents
    • Immigration documents
    • Payroll/tax records (including web time entry) and payment types.
    • Education Department teacher certification records
    • Diploma name
    • CUWeb (i.e.,Banner) - self-serve  rosters, grade reports and advising screens

    Are there places where both my preferred first name and my legal first name will be used?

    Staff with an administrative need (e.g., police, health services, financial services; deans' office staff) will see both legal first name and preferred first name. Similar to GPAs and other sensitive information, these staff are trained on the implications of this access. 

    • Emergency contact forms
    • Admissions records
    • Athletics recruiting and team management system

    How do I change or add a preferred first name?

    Clark University allows you to do this from the Personal Information tab within CUWeb.

    Can I set my preferred first name to whatever I want?

    Preferred first names are limited to standard alphanumeric characters (e.g., A-Z, a-z, numbers), spaces, hyphens, and apostrophes. You may set your preferred first name to whatever you would like as long as the use of this different first name is not used for an improper purpose. The University reserves the right to remove a preferred first name if determined inappropriate. If your preferred first name has implications that may negatively impact your experience at Clark, you will be contacted by an appropriate staff member to discuss your request.

    How many times can I change my preferred first name?

    Changing your preferred first name in University systems can have ripple effects on your day-to-day experiences. It can lead to confusion regarding your identity, challenges in customer service, and/or the interruption of your ability to access some University systems. As such, we highly recommend that you not change your preferred first name once it is set. 

    May I specify a preferred middle or last name?

    No. Clark's Preferred Name Policy only covers preferred first name at this time. If you would like to change your middle or last name on your University record you will need to change your legal name.

    Do I have to provide and set a preferred first name?

    No. Using a preferred first name is entirely optional. If you regularly use your legal name, then please do not submit a preferred name.

    How do I correct or change my legal name at the University?

    Students who wish to change their legal name must supply legal documentation and complete a Request for Change of Name form (available online at The completed form should be returned to the Registrar's Office.

    Faculty/staff who wish to change their legal name must supply legal documentation and complete a Request for Change of Name form (available online at The completed form should be returned to the HR Office.

    Can I get a new Clark OneCard with a new preferred first name listed on it?

    You can request a new Clark OneCard once your preferred first name request has been processed in Clark's student/employee information system (usually within 48 hours). Visit the OneCard Office to have a new ID card re-issued. The lost/replacement card fee applies to this service.

    If I have more questions about my preferred first name or the Preferred Name guidelines, who can I contact?

    Students – contact the Dean of Students Office at, 508-793-7423.
    Faculty/Staff – contact the Human Resources Office at, 508-793-7294.
    All – contact the Chief Officer of Diversity and Inclusion at, 508-793-7351.

    Created on: October 26, 2015
    Last Reviewed: January 5, 2016

    Reviewed by: Chief Officer, Diversity and Inclusion
    Approved by: President