January 29, 2008 – University of Virginia students will soon have a new way to check their e-mail — and access integrated online calendars, instant messaging and document sharing — thanks to new U.Va. partnerships with Google and Microsoft.
Students (and alumni with U.Va. lifetime e-mail accounts) will be prompted to choose between using the Google Applications for Education (including the popular G-mail application) or Microsoft Windows Live @ edu.
"We anticipate starting to make the new services available in late February and hope to complete the migration to the new services before the end of the spring semester," said James Hilton, vice president and chief information officer.
In the past, student e-mail has been provided by U.Va.'s own in-house servers and support staff. The shift represents a significant improvement for students, said Hilton, "by offering a choice between two cutting-edge e-mail services with brand-new features and capabilities." The integration of e-mail services and additional online tools (document sharing, calendar scheduling, Web page publishing and more) will enhance students' e-mail experience, workflow and productivity, he said. "And students can now keep their U.Va. e-mail accounts for life," added Hilton.
"Because e-mail is a core business for these providers and because they serve vast numbers of users, they are much better able than the University e-mail system to scale up to increased demand and adjust to changes in load," Hilton said. "That translates to more reliable, robust e-mail for students."
"It also translates to significant savings, which can then be applied to enhancing other key IT services that go to the heart of our academic mission," Hilton said. "We are, for example, replacing the Toolkit with UVaCollab, an enhanced course-management system and collaboration environment. Similarly, we are increasing our investments in advanced computing and digital scholarship."
U.Va. joins a growing list of institutions that have created similar partnerships with third-party e-mail providers. For example, Indiana, Ball State and the University of Pennsylvania have partnered with Microsoft, while Northwestern and Arizona State rely on Google for e-mail.
The change to the new e-mail services has been done in collaboration with U.Va.'s Department of Information Technology and Communication, Student Council, Alumni Association and the Office of Development and Public Affairs.
For currently enrolled students, the transition to the new service should be seamless, with no effect on existing e-mail addresses and aliases until the student graduates. All saved e-mail messages and folders that students have stored on the University's Central Mail Server will be migrated to the new services. Students who enroll after the new service is in place will receive the following e-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and the option of two aliases within the email.virginia.edu domain.
Aliases established by current students under the former system, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, will be deleted upon graduation, but those students will retain email@example.com for life, with all the same advanced features. Students who establish aliases with the new system, designated by the "email" prefix before "virginia.edu," (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be able to keep those after graduation.
For information on the transition, visit: www.itc.virginia.edu/email/student-faq.html