Photo courtesy of Pepperdine University
No longer will teachers fumble over students’ names and struggle with pronounciation.
Dean of Seaver College Michael Feltner introduced via email an application called NameCoach that will allow students to provide their preferred name along with a link to a recording of them speaking their name.
The application is expected to go live in January 2017 with the intention of making Seaver College “a more welcoming and inclusive community” by providing professors with a tool to correctly pronounce students’ names, Feltner wrote in an email addressed to the student body on Aug. 24.
Feltner and Chief Information Officer Jonathan See wrote that they learned about the program in fall 2015.
See said he believes the program will aid in creating a more welcoming environment for Pepperdine students.
“We both felt it would be more personal, meaningful, respectful and engaging to the student if the student’s name was pronounced exactly the way the student wants it pronounced,” See wrote in an email to the Graphic. “Imagine how great it will be to the student if the faculty or staff pronounces the student’s name correctly on day one and throughout the student’s academic career, and especially during graduation ceremony.”
Dean Feltner echoed See’s sentiments in an email to the Graphic.
“Our Mission is focused on the total development of students and enabling them to live lives of purpose, service and leadership,” Feltner wrote. “Creating an environment where the Seaver community shows respect and affirms the dignity of each student by calling them by their preferred name and pronouncing her or his name correctly will enhance our ability to fulfill the Mission in each Seaver graduate.”
See wrote that Pepperdine plans to integrate NameCoach into Courses as well as other systems like PeopleSoft and Salesforce. He wrote that he believes it will be a great asset not only for Seaver College but for all Pepperdine schools.
“I see great potential use of NameCoach at all Pepperdine schools through the constituent life cycle from the moment of admissions all the way through graduation and beyond,” See wrote. “I view NameCoach as a great addition to the University’s constituent engagement efforts. I think it’s a simple but ingenious tool that provides great value.”
NameCoach abides by the mission to “solve a single, common problem: name mispronunciation, especially in important life stings,” according to the company’s website. By providing a tool that facilitates accurate name pronunciation, the company seeks to provide a stepping stone for “respecting, appreciating and connecting with each other.”
Sophomore Talia Cao said the program will be beneficial in fostering a relationship between professors and students.
“For me, the desirability of NameCoach isn’t that my name is pronounced correctly, but is rather the sense of familarity that it can cultivate between me and my professors even prior to the start of a course,” Cao said.
Communication professor Charles Choi said the program will forge a connnection between students and professors.
“It’s a challenge to connect with students when you don’t know how to say their name and make a mistake on day one, especially with international students,” Choi said. “Having this as a resource will help alleviate these problems.”
Communications professor Jennifer Akamine Phillips said that correctly pronouncing student’s names will foster a sense of respect to the student.
“Since a person’s name is such an integral part of their identity, I think it is essential for professors to make it a priority to learn the proper pronunciation of their students’ names by the first few days of class as a sign of respect to them,” said Phillips. “Although I have not had the chance to try the new NameCoach system yet, I think it will be a valuable tool to help professors feel more confident addressing students early on in the semester since many of us may have around 75 or more names we need to learn and sometimes struggle to learn them all quickly.”
Freshman Aubree Oullette said NameCoach will bring relief for those with hard-to-pronounce names, especially international students.
“I think that NameCoach will be beneficial to the Pepperdine community, especially with so many international students, because it will relieve students of having to constantly correct people,” Oullette said. “With a last name like mine, people always butcher it.”
Feltner wrote that the program attests to the power of names.
“Knowing the name of an individual conveys respect and signifies that my relationship with that person matters,” Feltner wrote.
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