In May, CITES will begin outsourcing student email. By the middle of the month, incoming undergraduate students (freshmen and transfers) will be notified how to set up a Google Apps @ Illinois account and choose where to send their @illinois.edu email. By the time current Urbana undergraduate students return to campus, they should have the option to choose accounts with Google Apps @ Illinois, MS Live @ Illinois, or both.
This change is happening for several reasons, according to Dan Jacobsohn, director, Application Services, CITES.
"Outsourcing student email was one of the recommendations of the Campus Email and Calendaring Committee. CITES must retire Express Email by the end of 2010, so this is an ideal time to work with campus to determine how best to serve the needs of students, faculty, and staff about email and other services, like calendaring."
The committee, led by Chuck Thompson, assistant dean and director for information services, College of Engineering, issued its final report in October 2009. Among the committee’s findings were the preferences of the campus with regard to these kinds of services.
"Incoming students will be given access to Google Apps @ Illinois in the next few weeks," Jacobsohn said. "We are planning on rolling out Google Apps to all undergraduate students in time for fall semester, as well as being able to offer new and existing undergraduate students MS Live @ Illinois."
Details about the schedule for this transition are still being worked out but Jacobsohn says that all undergraduate students will receive notices over the summer outlining the new options. He emphasized that no email addresses will need to be changed. "Your @illinois.edu email will reach you, no matter how you choose to set it up."
Certain kinds of support will still be available via the CITES Help Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org, 244-7000), but CITES anticipates that most issues students have with the new application suites can be handled directly by Google or Microsoft.
"We expect this to be a win-win situation," Jacobsohn concludes. "CITES and campus should realize substantial savings over the next few years by outsourcing email and calendaring, and students will now have larger quotas and more opportunities for collaboration. We have worked closely with both Google and Microsoft to ensure that students will have the best possible tools and support available to them."