As told to Namecoach by Jennifer Creech, Registrar, University of Dayton
Like most institutions, University of Dayton has an increasing population of international students. At graduation, we read every single name in alphabetical order. In the past, we would ask each student how to pronounce their name when they came to pick up their cap and gown. Then we’d hand write it on a piece of paper for the graduation coordinator to give to the reader. They’d often get it 3-4 days ahead of time to practice. At the ceremony, we had a person on the floor standing with the graduates who would repeat the name to the reader using an earpiece.
Today, students use Namecoach to record their name at our annual pre-graduation fair where we have their attention. This gives the readers a lot more runway to listen to the pronunciation and practice and has proven much more effective.
More than 60% of both our doctoral and undergraduate students record their names into Namecoach.
But we have now gone far beyond commencement. The Namecoach platform is now an integrally woven piece of our student life. We’ve installed Namecoach into first year registration, so before students even arrive, recording their name is a checklist item they must complete. Additionally, if admissions counselors are talking with a prospective or recently admitted student, they can be prompted to record the correct pronunciation on the phone using Namecoach’s automated phone recorder. We have also embedded audio playback into our class rosters (via Isadore, which is Dayton’s version of Sakai) using the Namecoach API and tools. All faculty have the ability to listen to their students’ recorded names and learn them, enabling better faculty-student interactions from day one.
Of course, not everyone on campus is an instructor. We also know that demonstrating to our students that we care about them as individuals is key to improving retention. We are investigating other areas of the university where Namecoach could be used to create a more inclusive and respectful environment for our community, such as student housing and alumni relations.