What are Preferred Names?

What are Preferred Names?

The following is a 3-D email sent on 3/29/07 from Gloria Hage, Associate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of the University, and Jeff Frumkin, Assistant Provost introducing Preferred Name...

We are pleased to inform you that the Provost's Office, HR/AA, and MAIS, on the Ann Arbor campus has led an effort to develop and implement a University-wide policy that will enable students, faculty, and staff to use a preferred name instead of their legal name in various University information systems. The legal name will continue to be used in business processes that require use of the legal name, such as for payroll records and student transcripts.

Many individuals on campus have expressed a desire to be known by a name different than their legal name, which is referred to as preferred name. Demand for use of a preferred name type across the University community has increased as individual information has expanded in databases and is more accessible via the Internet.

The Preferred Names implementation is being phased into use during 2007 and 2008.

  1. Beginning April 25, 2007, students of the Ann Arbor campus and Faculty and Staff of the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses can specify a preferred name of their choice through Wolverine Access. The first administrative system that will incorporate the preferred name is the U-M Online Directory (UMOD). Any preferred names added through Wolverine Access become available in the UMOD after each weekly UMOD update.
  2. Later in 2007, preferred names will be used in the 2007-08 printed staff directory and individuals may request to have a preferred name on their Mcard.
  3. June 2008 is the target date to have preferred names available for reporting from the M-Pathways Data Warehouse.
  4. For future implementation, the Enterprise Directory will include preferred names for additional populations, such as alumni, contractors, and visitors. Enterprise Directory will also contain data for employees, students, alumni, emeritus faculty, and sponsored individuals.


The Provost's office recommends that business offices review the use of names for their internal business processes and reporting. Offices that retrieve name data from M-Pathways should develop plans to begin using preferred names as soon as is reasonable by the end of the next academic year.

The University recognizes that as a community many of its members use names other than their legal names to identify themselves. As long as the use of this different name is not for the purposes of misrepresentation, the University acknowledges that a 'preferred name' can and should be used wherever possible in the course of University business and education. Therefore, it is the policy of the University that any student, active or retired faculty or staff member, or alumni may choose to identify themselves within the University's information systems with a preferred name in addition to the person's legal name. It is further understood that the person's preferred name shall be used in all University communications and reporting except where the use of the legal name is required by University business or legal need.

The individual is free to determine the preferred name he or she wants to be known by in the University's information systems. However, inappropriate use of the preferred name policy (including but not limited to avoiding a legal obligation or misrepresentation) may be cause for denying the request.

Mcard Preferred Name Policy

Faculty, staff, retiree, student, and alumni cardholders may have an appropriate preferred name used on their Mcards. Preferred names for faculty, staff, retirees, alumni, Ann Arbor campus students, as well as Michigan Medicine personnel populate the ID Card database from Wolverine Access and are not changed at an ID Issuing Station.

Beginning in January 2024 the Michigan Medicine Key/ID office located in room C150 Med Inn Building will begin issuing Mcards with preferred names.

Since Dearborn and Flint Students currently do not have access to Wolverine Access, they may have an appropriate preferred name entered manually into the ID Card database by the Dearborn and Flint ID Issuing Stations.

All other cardholders (contractors, visitors, etc.) may be able to have a preferred name subsequent to the implementation of the MCommunity Enterprise Directory.

Preferred Name Example Card

When a preferred name is used for an Mcard, it will be the default name printed on the front of the Mcard. The legal name also will print on the reverse of the Mcard above the library bar code.

Faculty, staff, retirees, students, and alumni are able to have one and only one Mcard reproduced with their preferred name printed at no charge. (Cardholders must turn in their current Mcard, otherwise pay the replacement fee.) Additional requests for Mcards with new/different preferred names after the first free reproduction will be charged the Mcard replacement fee.

Inappropriate Preferred Names

Individuals with access to Wolverine Access have the ability to input any preferred name of their choice. It is possible that an inappropriate preferred name could be selected and ID Issuing Staff may deny that name from being printed on an Mcard. Inappropriate preferred names include but are not limited to those that avoid legal obligation, misrepresent, harass, threaten, or are otherwise objectionable. In most cases, a preferred name should not be a message, company or group name, especially if it is for promotional purposes.

ID Issuing Station management have the authority to refuse the issuance of an Mcard in this situation.

Individuals with preferred names deemed inappropriate can either:

  • obtain an Mcard with just their legal name.
  • change their preferred name on Wolverine Access and return later to an ID Issuing Station for their Mcard with revised appropriate preferred name.*


Cardholders also can appeal the decision of the ID Issuing Station staff to:  [email protected]

In this case, the Registrar’s Office or Human Resources will make the final decision.  These offices have the ultimate authority in determining the appropriateness of preferred names.  If the preferred name is deemed appropriate, the email response will inform the cardholder to print the email and turn it in to an ID Issuing Station.

* Only the Dearborn & Flint ID Issuing Station staff can manually change student preferred names in the ID Card database as requested by the students.


Additional Preferred Name information can be found at this web page link: http://documentation.its.umich.edu/node/248


Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the:

Mcard Admin
Send us an email
734 763-1299