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General Questions

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Why is this project happening?

In 2018, the University established the Gender Queer, Non-Binary and Trans (GQNBT) Task Force, co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Student Affairs and Human Resources. The task force was charged with assessing the current landscape at Northwestern to identify gaps in policies and resources, and to recommend gender-inclusive strategies to facilitate a more accessible, safer and welcoming campus environment for gender expansive students, faculty and staff at Northwestern.

Providing the ability for all students, faculty and staff within the University community to enter their display name and pronouns in Northwestern's Identity Management system (NUValidate) - which will then share that information with a number of other Northwestern systems - makes significant headway toward the task force's goal of creating a centralized location for managing one's identity data.

Once I enter a display name and/or pronouns, where will this information show up?

For a detailed list of the systems in which your display name and pronouns will appear, please see the Update Instructions page.

How long do changes take to update in the systems?

Allow at least 24 hours, and up to 72 hours, to see your name and pronoun changes in the relevant systems.

Who can I talk to if I need support or want more information?

I'm getting an error message when I try to log in. What should I do?

If you're getting an error message or having trouble logging in, try clearing your browser cache and cookies. If that doesn't work, contact the IT help desk:

About Names

What is a display name and why would I use it?

Many people use a name that is different than their legal name (e.g., preferred name, nickname, professional name). A display name is designed to allow people to choose which name they would like to be displayed throughout Northwestern university systems. For example, William Wildcat (legal name); Willie Wildcat (display name).

What's the difference between the name fields?

  • Legal name is typically your name given at birth and recorded on your birth certificate or the name used to identify you for legal, administrative or official purposes.
  • Display name is your name as you would like it to appear in university systems (if different from your legal name). Members of the Northwestern community are encouraged to use display name during interactions with each other. In some Northwestern systems, display name is currently referred to as "preferred" name.
  • Professional name is your name as you would like to use it for professional purposes (e.g., publishing). Many staff already use the professional name field. The display name field will now replace the professional name field.

What if I already use a professional or preferred name?

Updating your information in NUValidate replaces the former editing methods that were in CAESAR and myHR. For those who already have professional (HR) or preferred (CAESAR) names, those will be migrated to the new system.

Will my display name include my last name?

You will be able to update your first, middle and last name to a new display name. If you choose to enter a display name, you must provide both the first name and last name fields.

Will anyone still see my legal name?

Because all hiring and payments* in myHR must take place using legal name, due to benefits processing and federal and state tax reporting, your legal name will remain viewable in myHR to authorized school and unit payroll staff, as well as to central Human Resources staff.

Although the legal name field will remain available, your display name is now the default name appearing on the majority of myHR pages. Staff with myHR access should use display name for all interactions with community members.

*Payments processed via myHR include staff and faculty pay; graduate student and undergraduate scholarships; and student, work-study and non-student temporary worker wages.

Do I have to enter a display name?

No, it is not required. University systems will share your primary name from CAESAR or your legal name from myHR if you do not enter a display name.

Can I change or delete my display name?

Yes. To change your display name:
  1. Log into with your NetID.
  2. Click "Edit Online Directory Information."
  3. Enter your information into the Name fields (your display name or your legal/primary name), then "Submit."
Please note: The first and last name fields are required at all times and cannot be left empty or deleted; however, you may remove your display name and replace it with legal/primary name if you wish. Visit the Knowledge Base for more information on changing the display name on your (Exchange/Microsoft 365 account, changing your email alias for your (Microsoft 365) account, or changing your display name on your (or other G suite account).

About Pronouns

What are pronouns?

Pronouns are a way for other people to refer to you without using your name (e.g., she/her or they/them).

Why would I list my pronouns, or need to know someone else's pronouns?

The pronouns someone uses do not always align with their gender identity or gender expression, so it's important not to assume someone's pronouns. Someone may use more than one pronoun set (e.g., zir/he) and the pronouns someone uses can change over time. If you're unsure of someone's pronouns, it's best to ask (e.g., "What pronouns do you use?"). Being considerate of others pronouns is a way to foster inclusive learning and working environments.

What are my pronoun options?

You can choose from a drop-down list of 29 pronoun sets, including multi-set pronouns. To access this list and make a selection, please visit NUValidate and sign in with your NetID and password.
full list of pronouns
Full list of pronouns
any pronouns
ask me
use my name
use my initials

How was this list of pronouns created?

Staff members from the Women's Center and the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion compiled an extensive list of pronoun sets based on best practices and current information from academics, organizations and activists across the globe involved in gender inclusive work. That list was shared with key stakeholders across Northwestern for feedback and then updated.

Why can't I select more than one option for pronouns?

Currently, Northwestern is able to offer the drop-down feature to select one option and we cannot offer a write-in option. We have included some multi-set pronouns in the list for selection (e.g., he/she/they)

What if my pronouns are not in this list?

There are some combinations of pronouns that are not listed due to character limits within pronoun sets. If you use pronouns that are not included in this list, email the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) at to request to add your pronouns to the system. We will revisit the list periodically to make updates.

Do I have to enter pronouns?

No. You are not required to enter pronouns.

Can I change my pronouns?

Yes. You can change your pronouns at any time or opt out of providing your pronouns altogether. If you are a student and you update your pronouns mid-quarter, we suggest letting your faculty know so they can refresh their class roster.

What is the best way for me to communicate my pronouns to my professors, classmates, and/or colleagues?

You can share your pronouns with others in a variety of ways such as when introducing yourself, in your email signature, or in your Zoom profile. If you are using new pronouns, you can let others know directly - in person or through email, for example. There is no one best way so prioritize whatever feels best to you.

What if I use the wrong pronouns when referring to someone? What should I do?

Correct yourself, maybe offer a small apology (or thanks if you have been corrected) and then move on. For example, "Sam said that she...I'm sorry, they wanted to attend the meeting." This applies whether the person you are referring to is present or not. If someone you are talking to uses the wrong pronouns for another person, correct them. You can simply say something like, "Sam uses they/them pronouns." Correcting our mistakes and helping others correct theirs is important, but can be done simply and quickly. For more information, see our Pronoun Resources guide.

Specific Audiences

I'm a faculty member. Will I be automatically notified when someone in my class updates their display name and/or pronouns?

No. Display name and pronouns will appear on your class roster in CAESAR but you will not receive any kind of notification. Consider refreshing your roster throughout the quarter to be aware of any student name or pronoun changes. It can also be helpful to communicate to students that they should feel welcome to let you know if their names or pronouns change at any point in the quarter.

I'm a student. Will my professors know when I've changed my display name and/or entered my pronouns?

Not necessarily. Display names and pronouns will be visible to instructors on their class rosters in CAESAR. If you change your display name or pronouns in the middle of the quarter, for example, your instructors may not be aware of this. In this case, it's best to communicate directly with them, in person or through email.

I was admitted or hired using my legal name. How do I get my display name into my Microsoft 365 and/or G Suite accounts?

Please note: myHR administrators, including the Registrar's Office and Human Resources, cannot set up display names or email aliases for employees or students.

I query data as part of my job. What should I know about reports as a result of these system updates?

I query data as part of my job. How long will it take for me to receive updates?

Display names and pronouns are stored in NUValidate, which will send to myHR, CAESAR and the Microsoft 365 software (Outlook, Teams, Sharepoint) overnight. In some cases, names and pronouns will require more time to arrive at their final system destination. Therefore, most updates will appear overnight, but some will appear after a few days.

I handle hiring for my unit. What name do I use for an employee who is in the process of being hired? What if NU systems and their email display the wrong name after they are hired?

Please refer to the employee using the name and pronouns with which they have introduced themselves. Submit hiring documents, however, using (only) legal name. Only after hiring can the employee log into NUValidate and set up their display name, which will flow to downstream systems (such as email and myHR) within a few days.

Because their initial email address will by default use their legal name, after being hired an employee may wish to create a new email that reflects their display name. As with display name, this email alias is created using NUValidate.

Please also see the FAQ "I was admitted or hired using my legal name. How do I get my display name into my Microsoft 365 and/or G Suite accounts?"

I missed the webinars you hosted when these updates came out. Is there a recording available?

Yes! The Webinar Recording is now available for everyone with a Northwestern account to view.