Information and Educational Technology at University of California Davis announced that registration for the new campus Gmail accounts will begin in the second week of October. The entire student body should be switched over by the end of fall quarter.
“We plan on getting this process started right after the flurry of fall registration,” said Morna Mellor, director of IET Data Center and Client Services.
Under the direction of Gaston De Ferrari, the IET department has been planning the transition since March 2007.
“Most students coming into campus already have e-mail,” said De Ferrari, IET Project Manager for the Gmail transition. “So they come in with very high expectations of the service that should be provided by their e-mail account.”
“[Geckomail] is very simple and not up to par with the kind of service that is expected from an e-mail account, especially in terms of storage and collaboration tools,” he said.
The most noticeable improvements over the previous Geckomail will be a drastic increase in storage space to approximately 6 gigabytes – over 100 times greater than what is currently allotted – larger attachment file sizes, instant messenger and access to a constantly growing number of Google applications.
“The new e-mail will look like it is totally provided by the UC,” De Ferrari said. “And we will have complete authority over accounts.”
Students registering for the new e-mail will not have to change their e-mail address, as Geckomail will be fully integrated into Gmail.
Between January and March 2008, the IET department conducted a pilot test of Gmail, which involved over 300 undergraduate and graduate students.
“The pilot was very successful,” De Ferrari said. “We got feedback on the registration process and it was generally agreed that it was very simple.”
Since the conclusion of the pilot test in March, the Gmail project successfully navigated the process of securing the approval of a number of committees designated to ensure its compatibility with the campus. In July 2008, the Gmail switch received endorsement from the UC Davis Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, which was followed by the official announcement and permission to proceed from Vice Provost Peter Siegel, according to an IET department press release.
UC Davis will be the first UC campus to use this enhanced e-mail system, which was first marketed by Microsoft and Google approximately two years ago and is seeing growing use in universities across the nation.
“Other campuses have been looking into to it,” De Ferrari said. “But their infrastructure is not ready for it yet, they’ll be learning from our example.”
The university has signed a seven-year contract with Google, to provide this free service, and it reserves the right to terminate the contract at any time.
“Currently this will be just for students,” Mellor said. “There is still a lot of discussion that has to take place before we can consider implementing it on a faculty and staff level, there are issues of privacy and e-discovery.”
CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.