Name Changes & Pronoun Designation
Student Name Changes
Without legal documentation, students have two (2) options to alter their exposed name in many (not all) university systems. Students can:
Secure an undocumented name change and have only their legal first and middle initials show in most university systems (i.e. from Marcus Jason to M. J.). To do this, students may print a Name Change form from the University Registrar website or pick one up in person. Write “undocumented” as the reason for the name change. This form must be dropped off in-person to the Office of the University Registrar.
A chosen or preferred name request puts the name of a student’s choice on select internal university systems (i.e. from Olivia to Liv). To do this, students may print a chosen or preferred name request form from the University Registrar website or pick one up in person. This form can be dropped off in person or emailed to the Office of the University Registrar.
There are separate processes for each change. Students can do one or both processes based on their needs.
For questions about navigating this process, contact:
Name Changes on Class Rosters & Brightspace
An undocumented name change (see above) allows first and middle initials and the last name to be shown to represent the first and middle names of the student. (For example, Mary Janelle Smith will be recorded as “M.J. Smith”).
A chosen or preferred name request allows in some internal University systems for a student to be known by the name of their choosing. In most cases, the faculty/staff member will still have access to the student’s legal name (unless you’ve also gone through the undocumented name change, in which case your first and middle initials will show).
If you would like additional support or assistance in contacting faculty in your classes in regard to names and pronouns, please contact LGBTQI Life.
Student Pronoun Designation on Class Rosters & Brightspace
The options will include “he” and “she,” the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “ze,” and a name-only option for students who choose not to be identified by any pronoun. The pronouns will appear alongside student names on class rolls and housing rosters, be visible to advisers and other offices in regular contact with students, and will be accessible to faculty and staff, including student employees.
Separately, there is also a field in Brightspace where a student or faculty member can add their pronouns. Log in to Brightspace, click your name on the top right of the page, and the field will appear.
An undocumented name change (see above) allows first and middle initials and the last name to be shown on the student ID. Please wait for your “undocumented name change” form to be processed through the office of the registrar. Chosen names are not currently allowed on student IDs.
Financial Aid & Work Study Timesheet
For federal purposes, your legal name will show on your financial aid documents and work-study timesheets.
Email Address Information
VU users use the Identity Page to change their email address. After Logging in, Click menu (3 lines at left side > end-user user tools > add email alias. You can also set your display name under the end-user tools tab. You cannot change your VUnetID after enrollment/being hired at Vanderbilt.
People Finder Directory
VU users use can control what directory information is available to both the public and internal VU individuals by going to the People Finder Page, logging in on the bottom right, and clicking “Personal Update.”
Please note: Your chosen or preferred name will show up on all Anchorlink rosters available to the public and most Anchorlink users. However, page managers will have access to the name that is on file through the Registrar’s office in addition to your preferred name.
If a student fills out the chosen or preferred name request (details outlined at the top of this page), staff in the mail room should see their name in the mail receiving system as “Legal First Name (Chosen Name) Legal Last name.” This ensures that students receive official legal mail, as well as mail to their chosen name, more efficiently. As a secondary measure, students can relay any chosen name information to any mail room representative for manual entry into the mail system.
An undocumented name change (see above) allows the legal first and middle initials and the last name to be shown on the diploma. Chosen or preferred names cannot currently be used on diplomas.
Legal Name Changes
In accordance with Tennessee legislation, T.C.A. 29-8-102, you must be a resident of Davidson County, Tennessee to petition for a name change recognized by the United States government. Forms for an adult name change are available for downloading at Chancery Court Clerk & Master. Please be advised that all blanks must be legibly filled in with accurate information.
DOCUMENTS TO BRING WITH YOU to legally change your name:
1. Completed Petition form and Order form to be presented to a Chancellor.
2. A copy of your birth certificate.
3. Photo identification (such as a driver’s license, passport, or comparable photo identification).
4. Social Security card.
5. $159.50 cash or cashier’s check (no personal check accepted). This fee covers two certified copies of the court order changing your name.
Name change petitions are heard Monday-Thursday between 8:30 am and 9:00 am. The address is Public Square, Nashville, TN and travel to the 3rd-floor suite 308 (this location is for Davidson County residents only). They encourage you to arrive at 8:10 am to guarantee you are seen that day.
A student who is able to change their name through legal documentation (process above) can present this documentation and a name change form to the Office of the Registrar to ensure that their name in University systems is correct. Graduate students employed at the University should also submit this paperwork to HR for their correct name to be ensured in all employment purposes.
Legal Passport Changes
If and/or when you change your name legally and have a passport you’d like to update, follow this link to find out how: https://travel.state.gov/passport/.