Faculty and staff to switch to Google-based email

by Gabrielle Marush

Faculty and staff are set to switch their Colonial Mail e-mail accounts to a Google-based system this month, two and a half years after student e-mail accounts made the transition to GWmail.

Administrative departments will be transferred by the end of January and faculty within the different schools should start transferring by February, depending on feedback and availability, said Rachel Blevins, the marketing and communications manager of the Division of Information Technology.

This is the second time faculty was set to make this switch. At a Faculty Senate meeting last winter, the technology department presented a plan for faculty and staff to make the switch starting in the 2010 spring semester. The plan was put on hold, but the department at the time declined to comment on the hold up.

Blevins said the Division of Information Technology was faced with the decision to either invest in more storage space or to upgrade to a better system.

"The move to Google Mail will save the University money because there will not be a need to invest in disk space to meet the needs of faculty and staff e-mail storage," Blevins said.

Migrating to the new system, called GWemail, will not visibly change a staff member's "@gwu.edu" e-mail address, unlike student e-mail addresses, which changed domain names to "@gwmail.gwu.edu." The change in the ending of the e-mails was a concern for professors.

Faculty and staff have not received an upgrade since the move from Webmail to Colonial Mail in 2003.

The Colonial Mail system caused issues for many professors, who filled their allotted e-mail quotas and would bounce e-mails back to students and others attempting to get in contact with them. Many professors said they forwarded their Colonial Mail to other e-mail systems due to the quota issues.

"We've been envious of students having a much more modern system of e-mail," economics professor Fred Joutz said. "Most of the faculty uses GMail and has their mail forwarded to that account."

After all e-mail accounts have been migrated, all information from Colonial Mail accounts, including address books and calendars, will be switched over to the new Google Mail system.

The new system will offer increased mail storage up to seven gigabytes, according to the Division of Information Technology website.

Forrest Maltzman, chair of the political science department, said he, like many professors, has often had issues with students sending large files that would "bounce back" because they would exceed available storage space.

"The fact that faculty will have endless storage will be very useful," Maltzman said.

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