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Preferred Name

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Top view of group of students sitting together at table. University students doing group study.

Old Dominion University recognizes that some members of the ODU community may use first names other than their legal names to identify themselves. In line with our commitment to inclusion and diversity, ODU allows students, faculty and staff to use a preferred name for certain purposes. ODU will not accept a preferred name that is vulgar, offensive, or obscene or intended for misrepresentation.

A preferred name is a first name that is chosen to be used instead of a legal first name. The legal name will continue to be used where required by law or university requirements. Student information will be linked to both legal and preferred name for the purpose of Old Dominion University records.

Faculty, staff or students who update their preferred name after receiving their ODU Identification card may request a replacement card. The replacement card will allow students to have their preferred name listed on the front of the card, however, their legal name will be listed on the back of the ID card. One free replacement card will be provided. Additional cards will be subject to charge.

The legal name will be used when it is required for business, legal, and external purposes such as finance, financial aid, diplomas, transcripts, police records, conduct records, medical and health records, and payroll. Faculty names in Canvas will reflect the legal name, not the preferred name.


  • Canvas (students and faculty)
  • Class Rosters
  • Degree Works
  • Email Display Name
  • ITS Help Desk
  • Student ID Cards

Coming Soon:

  • Academic Advising System
  • Admissions Correspondence
  • Dean's List
  • Diploma
  • Transcripts
  • Federal and State Reporting
  • Enrollment Verification
  • Financial Aid
  • Degree Verification
  • Student Accounts
  • Student Information Systems
  • Immigration Documentation
  • Preferred name: Name designated by the individual as an alternative to their legal name.
  • Legal name: A person's legal name that is used for official governmental documents such as licenses, passports, tax forms.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why would I select a preferred name?

You may have many reasons for choosing to be identified by a preferred name. You may identify with a nickname, middle name, or select a preferred name that is reflective of your gender identity. If you do not identify a preferred name, your legal name will be used.

Where do I go to change my preferred name?

FACULTY AND STAFF can change the preferred name through the Monarch Profile Manager.

STUDENTS ONLY: Go to my.odu.edu and log in with your ODU midas and password. There, you will see a link on the top right labeled "Update me Now"; click this. If you have recently updated your contact information, this button will be green and will be labeled "My Information."



A new page will open where you can change your preferred first name.


Once you change your first name and click submit, your changes will take effect within 5 minutes. The my.odu.edu page will have a yellow "My Information" button indicating the changes are pending.


Once the changes have been updated in your student record, the link on my.odu.edu will be green.

How many times can I change my preferred name?

There is no set limit. However, it is important to note, that the use of a preferred name is designed to allow an individual to be identified as they have chosen.

Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

Please contact the Office of the Registrar. They can be reached at 757-683-4425 or by email at register@odu.edu.

What should I do if I become aware of an individual using a preferred name that could be offensive, vulgar, or obscene?

If you believe the preferred name is offensive, vulgar, obscene, or misrepresenting the intended purpose of the preferred name option, please refer your concern to oducares@odu.com for review.

What should I do if I interact with an individual that is using a preferred name that may not match their physical appearance, based upon my understanding?

ODU is committed to providing an inclusive community that celebrates the students, faculty, and staff. It is important to identify the individual by their preferred name that has been provided. Recognizing there are many reasons why a preferred name may be appropriate for that individual. If you have further questions or would like more information on this subject please contact the Safe Space committee at safespace@odu.edu.