University of Southampton


Changes to display name in University directory

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In September 2020, iSolutions is updating the display name for all staff and PGR's to the format 'preferred firstname' followed by 'preferred lastname' (the previous was lastname followed by initials). Therefore, William Smith would change from 'Smith W.' to 'Will Smith'.

In addition to this, the 'job title' field will be populated, which often appears alongside name e.g. when sharing a file in OneDrive - to help further identify individuals.

The following are answers to common questions about these changes:

  1. Why is this change being made?
    This has been requested by many departments across the institution.


  1. Can my name stay in the old format?
    Unfortunately, it's impractical to have names in different formats in the same directory - it would be difficult for others to search for you in the old format.


  1. I can't find people in Outlook now.
    When searching the University addressbook Outlook defaults to searching the displayname field.  Previously searching for 'smi' would find 'Smith', but now would only find those with a firstname that started with 'smi'. Check the box marked 'more columns' in the addressbook search. This will now search all the fields available (including phone number, which can be useful).


  1. My name is still a duplicate with someone else.
    Whilst the new format has fewer duplications than the old one, there are still some. The only way to get around this would be to change your preferred firstname or preferred lastname to something different.


  1. How do I change my display name?
    Login to subscribe at and use the manage my account option to set your preferred firstname and preferred lastname.


  1. Names appear differently in my email folders.
    Unfortunately, the name change only applies from the date that it was changed so historical emails will still have your (and anyone else's) old names. This means that when searching your email for historical messages you may need to take into account the difference in names - however, you should still be able to search via lastname as that would be consistent between the old and new messages (unless someone chooses to change their own name).


  1. I don't like people knowing my firstname.
    Most (but not all) staff have a staff profile on the University website, which likely will contain your firstname, so it's usually not considered private information. If you still have concerns you could change your preferred firstname to just your initial though that would mean numerous University systems would refer to you by your initial and not your name.


  1. Why is the job title field changing?
    iSolutions are populating this field as it is currently empty and is very useful in further identifying an individual to ensure message and other access are being given to the correct person. We believe the format we've chosen gives maximum benefit to all University users while minimising any negative impact.


  1. What format will job title take?
    Initially, this will be of the form 'job title', department, (staff) - for staff (PGR's will end (Postgraduate Researcher) and students will end (Student) - students do not have job titles from the HR system so will lack that element in their 'job title' field. For example, if Will Smith is a senior administrator in Biological Sciences their job title will appear as 'Senior Administrator, Biological Sciences, (staff)'


  1. Why is my job title wrong?
    The only data source for job title we have at present is the HR system. This has a character limit, in addition, the job title field in the directory also has a limit (and our addition of department further restricts space). Also, we are only able to source the primary post that the HR system supplies even though this may not be your preferred value.


  1. Can I have my entry in the job title field changed?
    As this is new and sourced from other data please contact HR if you believe your job title is incorrect (note that there are limitations in the HR system).  If you want to discuss other changes to your job title or name please contact ServiceLine in iSolutions.

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