Preferred First Name Policy


This policy applies to all faculty, staff, and students of the University of Iowa. 

Policy Statement

The University of Iowa recognizes that faculty, staff, and students may use names other than their legal names to identify themselves. Except when an individual’s legal first name is required by law, policy, or business needs, individuals may choose to be identified in some university systems by the preferred first name that they have designated in accordance with this policy.

Allowable Name Formats

Many members of the UI community use a first name that differs from their legal first name. Allowable name formats include (but are not limited to):

  • A shortened derivative of a name (e.g, “Sue” for “Susan”)
  • A middle name instead of a first name
  • First and middle initials (e.g., “A.J.” for “Andrew John”)
  • An anglicized name (e.g, “Peter” instead of “Xingyu”)
  • A name that better represents the individual’s gender identity
  • A name to which the individual is in the process of legally changing

The university will not accept a preferred first name that is vulgar or offensive, obscene, fanciful, or creates confusion of the individual with another person.


Persons who specify a preferred first name that is different from their legal first name agree that the designated name is, or will be, truly used to identify themselves.

The use of a preferred first name cannot be for the purpose of misrepresentation and must otherwise comply with UI policies, including but not limited to the Student Code of Conduct. The Dean of Students will determine if a student’s preferred first name is appropriate under these criteria.  Human Resources will determine if an employee’s preferred first name is appropriate.

University Issued Identification Cards

Individuals who have opted in for broad usage of a preferred first name in university systems will have their preferred full name printed on the front of their university ID card and their standard name on the back of the ID card.  University of Iowa photo ID cards are issued for the purpose of university business only and should not be considered government issued identification for purposes such as air travel.

Faculty, staff, or students who replace an existing card with one displaying their preferred first name, will be charged a replacement fee to have a new card issued.

Systems and Processes

The University of Iowa utilizes multiple systems to manage its operations and processes. Where appropriate, university systems will be modified to display only the preferred first name. Instances in which a legal first name is required include, but are not limited to, financial aid forms, tax forms, university transcripts, and health records.

Faculty, staff, and students may enter their preferred first name at any time in one of the main enterprise systems (MyUI or Employee Self Service).  Other university systems that are dependent on data from these enterprise systems will be refreshed based on business processes and may take up to several business days for updated preferred first names to be reflected in all systems.


Preferred first name - An alternative to the individual’s legal first name.  Entered by the individual in MyUI or Employee Self Service.  Faculty, staff, and students who enter a preferred first name can select between two usage options in UI systems:  limited use and broad use (see “Usage Options” in the definitions below).

Preferred full name – If an individual enters a preferred first name, the preferred full name is the preferred first name plus standard last name.

Legal name – A person’s legal name as it appears on official governmental documents such as licenses, passports, and tax forms.

Standard name – For employees, including student employees, standard name should be the same as legal name.  For students, standard name is also used on University Bills, financial aid documents, and most communications on campus. 

Official Student Records name - Official Student Records Name is used by the Office of the Registrar on official documents. It will appear on transcripts, diplomas, and any official verification letters.

Usage Options – limited and broad usage.


Usage Options

University of Iowa System



MAUI, Canvas, and ICON (for instructors and advisors)

Standard Name and Preferred Name

Standard Name and Preferred Name

ePersonnel file

Standard Name and Preferred Name

Standard Name and Preferred Name

Publicly-visible online directory

Standard Name

Preferred Name

Name that accompanies your UI email address

Standard Name

Preferred Name

University email address (


Generated based on Standard Name

Generated based on Standard Name

University ID cards

Standard Name on front and back

Preferred Name on front, Standard Name on back

Human Resources systems, such as Payroll and Benefits

Standard Name

Standard Name

Systems used by other campus departments and units

Standard Name

Preferred Name,
unless the system requires
Standard  Name


The University of Iowa will handle reports of misuse and abuse of both preferred first names and legal first names in accordance with existing policies and procedures issued by appropriate authorities. Depending on the individual and circumstances involved, this could include the offices of Human Resources, Dean of Students, General Counsel, Provost, Student Life and/or appropriate law enforcement agencies.

The university also reserves the right to remove preferred first names that are deemed misrepresentative and suspend the individual’s privilege to update their preferred first name.