USNH Preferred Name Project Recognizes Diversity and Offers Inclusivity

September 1, 2020

by ET&S Strategic Communication

Faculty and staff with the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) may now designate their preferred name and pronoun after the completion of the preferred name project. 

Employees may update their preferences through the Web Information System for Employees (WISE) webpage. Seven different groups within Enterprise Technology & Services (ET&S) helped with the project, working to create a new form in the Banner Human Resources system and integrate it into multiple information systems. 

“I am delighted that at last, we are able to recognize the personal and professional preferences of the faculty and staff,” said Wayne Jones, University of New Hampshire (UNH) provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. 

Five years ago, UNH began allowing students and employees to designate a preferred first name, but this approach did not meet all the needs of a diverse employee population. The work coincided with university efforts to cut down on duplicate and outdated website content, which involved better integrating current staff and faculty information from the Banner HR system into UNH websites. During this process, a disconnect was discovered between the legal names stored in the Banner system and the professional names used by many faculty in their scholarship and research.                               

Faculty and staff worked with ET&S on different ways to address this disconnect since 2017, and this project finally brought together all that work to benefit all of USNH. The changes implemented have gone beyond the professional name requirements and created an inclusive process for self-identification at all USNH institutions to enhance data on public and internal profiles in the future.

Erin Sharp, associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Faculty Senate chair, served on the steering committee to oversee the preferred name project. Her role on the steering committee involved connecting ET&S with faculty experts, acting as a liaison between the technology team and faculty, and providing faculty a perspective in decisions made around the implementation. 

“What stood out most to me from my experience is the technology aspect of this work was complex and time-consuming, but there was an entire team invested in getting this long-term fix in place,” Sharp said. “And also making sure to use this work as an opportunity to engage in best practices around gender identity and preferred pronouns. (ET&S) has provided a fix to make sure this process is now seamless for faculty.”

Sharp also pointed to the importance of the preferred name project for faculty, as they often use a different professional or publication name than the one listed on their employee documents. When they apply for a grant or submit a publication for review, it is “critical that their professional name can easily be searched and linked to their scholarship and other aspects of their work identity,” she said.

She added, “More generally, as an employee at UNH, being able to select appropriate pronouns that represent your gender identity not only provides a sense of personal empowerment to faculty and staff but also signals that UNH values and supports diversity and inclusion.”

More information: https://td.unh.edu/TDClient/KB/ArticleDet?ID=2329

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