The Secret to Proper Name Pronunciation at Commencement

As the weather shifts from winter’s cold to summer’s heat, many students are acquiring caps and gowns, hoods and cords. Soon, thousands of students will don the colors of their departments and file into Ohio Stadium to celebrate their academic achievements. Some will even have their names announced as they walk across the stage and claim their diplomas.

It’s an honor to have your name read aloud at commencement, and Ohio State wants to ensure those names are pronounced correctly—but how?

Tim Watson, director of Graduation Services, shared his department’s secret: NameCoach.

NameCoach is a web-based service that allows students to record proper pronunciation and provide a phonetic spelling of their names, as well as designate gender pronouns, all of which makes for “a more genuine and personal presentation when the names are announced at commencement,” said Watson.

This flexible system allows Graduation Services to efficiently manage hundreds of names each year. All of the name information can be kept in one place, and administrators have the ability to download this information to other devices so announcers can hear student names and say them correctly at commencement.

NameCoach simplifies the process of gathering recordings and phonetic spellings for both students and graduation staff. Students can access an online form, input their information and record themselves pronouncing their own name. Students can do this in their own time, which allows graduation services staff to gather information for students they aren’t able to meet with in person.

Watson said “the ability for students to record their name online is a major convenience. This allows us to get a better response rate.”

Even if you aren’t managing ceremonies for students in your college or department, you can still benefit from using NameCoach in your CarmenCanvas courses. Watson recommends that instructors and teaching staff enable the software. He said, “having a better understanding of how students would like to be addressed allows for better communication.”

Visit the Resource Center to learn how to enable NameCoach in your courses. You can also contact the Office of Distance Education and eLearning to take advantage of name-gathering features in addition to the basic Carmen integration.