Gmail transition for faculty, staff set to begin this spring

Faculty, staff and administrators will begin the transition from the dated Colonial Mail system to the new Google Mail system this spring, pending final contract approval from senior administrators.

Information Systems and Services Media Consultant Rachel Blevins said she believes the switch will help faculty members better communicate with students and ease the everyday work load for staff. The exact start date of the switch has not been decided, but will begin sometime this spring and continue through 2010.

Each school, department or division will respectively decide when to move their e-mail platforms over the next year, once senior administrators approve the switch.

The University is currently operating three mail systems for different sectors of the GW community, so the switch to Google Mail should cut technology costs and save time, Blevins said.

For faculty unfamiliar with the Google Mail platform, Blevins said ISS would provide instructions, training and support for the mail migration.

When the switch was first discussed, some faculty were concerned with losing the “@gwu.edu” mail addresses. But David Steinour, the University’s chief information officer, said faculty e-mail addresses will retain that ending.

The most difficult part of the transition “will be moving e-mail messages, address books and calendar appointments… and ISS is currently seeking help with this part of the transition,” Blevins said.

Steinour said major complaints about the lack of data storage space helped promote the switch from Colonial Mail to Google Mail. Colonial Mail only offers 100 megabytes of storage compared to Google Mail’s seven gigabytes – 70 times the storage space.

Google Mail will be accessible through MyGWU or a desktop mail client. Login information will continue to be a user’s NetID and corresponding password; the only transition for desktop clients will be rerouting the forwarding to Gmail.

The third e-mail program the University is currently running, GroupWise, will remain the provider for the Medical Center, Gelman Library and GW’s senior executive team until they are ready to migrate to Gmail. According to documents provided at December’s Faculty Senate meeting, those groups are not included in the one-year deadline.

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