Preferred Name

Western Michigan University recognizes that some students use first names other than their legal names to identify themselves. As an inclusive and diverse community, WMU allows students to use a preferred first name different than their legal name for certain purposes and records in the course of university business, communication, and education.

The legal name will continue to be used where required by law or university requirements. All student information will continue to be linked to both the legal name and preferred name for the purposes of university records. 

How to create, change or delete a preferred first name 

Preferred names are collected during the online application process for admission. Preferred names can also be created, changed or deleted in GoWMU:

  • Log onto GoWMU
  • Click on View/Update My Personal Information
  • Click on View/Update Preferred Name

Places where the legal first name will appear

  • Admissions Correspondence
  • Commencement Program
  • Degree Verification
  • Enrollment Verification
  • Financial Aid
  • Federal and State Agency Reporting
  • SEVIS (immigration status reporting)
  • Student Accounts
  • Transcripts

Places where the preferred first name will appear - students

  • Bronco Card
  • Degree Works*
  • Elearning
  • Email Address
  • Email Display Name
  • First-year Experience Programs
  • GoWMU
  • Instructor forms**
  • People Search

 * Preferred name will appear in addition to the legal name.

** Including class lists, midterm and final worksheets, academic concern, and incomplete grade forms.

Email display name

The display name appears before your email address.

Email address (optional)

To change your email address, submit a request form in ITDirect.

Bronco Card (optional)

To receive an updated Bronco Card, visit the Bronco Card Office located in room 109 of the Bernhard Center. The preferred first name will be placed on the front of the card with the legal last name. The legal first and last names will be placed on the back of the card. Students are responsible for the $30 replacement card fee. We recommend that you wait two days before visiting the Bronco Card Office to ensure that your preferred name is available in the ID card system.

Employed at the University

Anyone who wishes to establish a preferred name for employment purposes should visit the Office of Human Resources for more information.  

If you are a student and an employee, you will need to establish a preferred name in GoWMU on both the Faculty/Staff Home and Student Home tabs.

Additional Information 

It may take up to two days after establishing a preferred name for it to appear in the places listed above. For all other places not covered in the above lists, assume legal name will be used.

Students wishing to remove a suffix or have their middle name changed to a middle initial can contact the Registrar's Office at (269) 387-4300 for assistance.

If you believe that you have been the target of, or witness to, a bias incident at Western Michigan University, please submit an incident report at the Office of LBGT Student Service Online Bias Reporting form.

Any misuse of the preferred name can result in discipline as permitted under the Student Code and that the University reserves the right to deny the use of or remove the preferred name if it deems the use is inappropriate.