3.39 – Procedures to Use Preferred Name

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Scope: NMSU System

Source: ARP Chapter 3 | Ethics, Equity and Equal Opportunity

Responsible Executive: Provost & Chief Academic Officer

Responsible Administrator:

Last Updated: 07/12/2016



Revision History:

2017 Recompilation, formerly Rule 2.89
07/12/2016 Rule adoption approved by Chancellor


New Mexico State University recognizes that for a variety of reasons, individuals may prefer to use a name that is different from their legal name to identify themselves.  A preferred name reflects the manner in which an individual wishes to be addressed by faculty, staff, students, co-workers and the public.  NMSU’s rule on preferred names covers first and middle names; surnames may only be changed with a legal name change.

Similarly, a preferred pronoun indicates how an individual would like to be referred to by others in lieu of their name; preferred pronouns may change over time.  Some prefer gender-neutral or gender-inclusive pronouns when referring to or speaking with an individual.  The following list of possible pronouns is not all inclusive:      1. he, him, his; 2. she, her, hers; 3. they, them, their and 4. xe, xem, xir.



  1. Individual Use: Commencing with the fall 2016 semester, a preferred first or middle name and/or use of a preferred pronoun may be utilized by anyone in the university community in combination with their legal surname.  As long as the use of a preferred name is not for the purpose of misrepresentation, embarrassment or offense, or other misconduct, NMSU will honor an individual’s use of a preferred name or pronoun in the course of university business and education, consistent with this Rule.  NMSU reserves the right to deny use of, or to remove, a preferred name if not consistent with this Rule.
  2. Respect for Use and Privacy: Employees, students and other members of the university community will respect such use, in addition to respecting the privacy of individuals concerning such use.
  3. Procedure to Use Preferred Name: Students and employees or others authorized to be listed in the NMSU Directory may initiate, update or delete the use of a preferred name via Banner Self Service, Personal Information section accessible through NMSU’s portal (my.nmsu.edu)
  4. Limitations on Use of Preferred Name: Certain academic programs or internships and placements may be governed by New Mexico State law and may limit the use of a preferred name; before entering a preferred name in the system, it is recommended that you speak with your dean or ASNMSU legal services attorney regarding these potential regulatory limitations.



A. Preferred Name

The preferred name will be used in lieu of the legal name wherever the legal name is not required, such as:

  1. learning management system
  2. class rosters
  3. degree audit system
  4. advisee lists
  5. email system
  6. online directory, unless the student  has opted out of the directory (following is the  link to the FERPA page that references opting out of directory information: http://records.nmsu.edu/ferpa/).

B. Legal Name

Use of the legal name (the name that appears on your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate or U.S. Social Security card) is required for:

  1. admissions and University Student Records Office official records
  2. transfer credit
  3. federal, state, and institutional student financial aid
  4. housing contracts
  5. payroll
  6. benefit information
  7. student billing and the student account invoice (including e-bills)
  8. disciplinary action
  9. other legally binding requirements

C. Frequently Asked Questions/Examples

  1. Who will have access to my Legal Name?
    University employees with the appropriate access, the NMSU Police Department, and your supervisor (if you are employed in a campus job).
  2. May an individual obtain an NMSU ID card with the preferred name?
    If the individual records a preferred name in Banner Self Service (my.nmsu.edu), a replacement ID card may be obtained, but is not required. In order to obtain a new card, the old card with the legal name  must be turned in to the ID Card Services Office.   The cost of a new card can be found at http://idcard.nmsu.edu/id-frequently-asked-questions/.
  3. Is the NMSU ID card a form of identification accepted off campus?
    It is advisable to carry a government issued form of ID such as a driver’s license or passport with you in order to access resources that are not on the NMSU campus.
  4. May an individual change their NMSU username to reflect their preferred name?
    Under some circumstances an individual may be able to change their NMSU username. Contact the ICT Help Desk at help@nmsu.edu for more information.
  5. Does a Preferred Name Affect my Legal Name?
    Use of a preferred name does not change your legal name.
  6. What name will appear on a student’s diploma?
    Generally, the student’s legal name will appear on the student’s diploma.  However, students may provide abbreviated variations of their legal name when they apply for graduation.   The legal name of a student which appears on a student’s diploma may be modified slightly as follows:

    1. option to display first name or first name initial
    2. option to include or exclude middle name or middle initial
    3. option to modify legal name for proper capitalization
    4. option to modify legal name for proper accentuation of the name
    5. option to include or exclude suffixes (Jr., Sr., and II)
    6. the first and middle names may not be lengthened (i.e. expanding an initial to a full name) or shortened to anything other than an initial
  7. Is it possible for a student to get a new diploma if the student’s legal name has changed?
    The original diploma must be returned and a replacement diploma will be issued after obtaining the appropriate documentation to update the student’s legal name. The cost of a new diploma can be found at commencement.nmsu.edu. The current University officials’ signatures will appear on the replacement diploma.
  8. Why is a certain office or system not using an individual’s preferred name?
    There are a few reasons an office or system might not be using an individual’s preferred name in some or all communications. As indicated above, some offices or processes require use of an individual’s legal name. Even though some processes require the use of the legal name, it is the intent that all offices use the preferred name as much as possible in general communications.  It is possible that an online system may not display an individual’s preferred name. A preferred name may not be used in an online system because the system must use the legal name or because the system has not yet been updated to use the preferred name.  If you have a concern that a legal name is being used instead of the preferred name, please contact the Chief Information Officer at cio@nmsu.edu.
  9. More Information about Preferred Name:
    For questions regarding a preferred name, please contact the ICT Help Desk at help@nmsu.edu.
  10. Information about Changing Legal Name:
    For information regarding change of one’s legal name, please contact your local state district court with jurisdiction