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  May 6, 2002

University to Implement
Standard E-Mail System
By Suzanne Zack

The University will soon implement a new standardized e-mail system that will streamline campus-wide communications, making frustrations like unreadable attachments caused by incompatible systems a thing of the past.

"We have come to view e-mail as essential for business correspondence, yet we use at least six different e-mail systems on campus that cannot be integrated in any coherent fashion," says Paul Kobulnicky, vice chancellor for information services. "The new system will place everyone into a contemporary environment that ensures effective electronic communications."

The new e-mail system is part of a "Lotus Notes/Domino" groupware software package that will provide every employee with common e-mail, calendar, address, and task management tools. The software package will also provide a mechanism to automate processes, such as time cards and purchase requests, which the University has yet to undertake in a comprehensive way.

The new e-mail system will initially be implemented at the main and regional campuses and the School of Law. The Health Center is not currently included in the project.

"To meet future challenges, we need to revamp our electronic infrastructure so that we can communicate with one another and do our individual and collective work as seamlessly as possible," Kobulnicky says. "Lotus Notes will help us get there."

Currently the groupware software of choice of large organizations, Lotus Notes is also used by a number of the country's top 25 public universities.

Kobulnicky says University Information Technology Services will begin the two-year implementation of the project in June, by first converting employees's e-mail in administrative units, then focusing on academic departments.

In addition to providing new software for employees, University ITS will also implement a new web-based e-mail and calendar system for students, using Sun Computer's "iPlanet" software to replace WebMail at the main and regional campuses. WebMail, which provided the University with its first web interface for campus e-mail, was introduced almost two years ago. It lacks storage capacity, however, and is unable to handle large attachments.

In addition to being able to transmit and open attachments, the new system will also significantly increase each student's e-mail storage capacity, from less than 1 megabyte to 25 megabytes. The new student e-mail software will allow students either to access a web-page e-mail address or use their favorite browser's Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), or Post Office Protocol (POP) - two methods of accessing electronic mail kept on a mail server - to directly retrieve their mail.

"As technology evolves and users' expectations rise, yesterday's solution becomes today's problem," Kobulnicky says. "The new iPlanet system we'll have in place for the fall semester more closely resembles Internet-based systems, such as Yahoo and Hotmail, that students are accustomed to using. We therefore expect more students to use it.

"As the University continues to move toward the use of e-mail to convey important information and to conduct its business," he adds, "the vehicles we use will be critical to our success."

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