Michele, Yes, I think that having fields on the user object that return the preferred names or regular names if there is no preferred name would be useful. It could shortcut some coding.
That said, it would require some plumbing changes to the Evergreen object system, and I'm not sure how generic it could be. I am adding preferred name to our email templates, and it requires some conditional logic in the templates. It would be nice if I could put that in a separate template file that gets included in the others to avoid duplicate code, but I don't think the templates in the database can include other templates. Cheers, Jason