URI adopts Google’s Gmail to provide student email services

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KINGSTON, R.I. — April 26, 2010 — The University of Rhode Island has formed a new digital partnership to benefit undergraduate and graduate students, and has done so at no cost. The University has traded its in-house student email system for a free one –Google’s Gmail. URI students will now log onto their University email accounts at “my.uri.edu” with Google’s vast network and resources behind them.

As of April 23, the University’s Department of Information Technology Services has created an email address for each URI student, about 18,000 in all, on its new Google-hosted email system, which is now ready for use.

The students themselves had recommended the University’s move to Gmail and in fact, on Feb. 17, the Student Senate passed a bill calling for URI to adopt Gmail for students. They noted that among other things, Gmail would allow them to keep their URI email even as alumni without burdening the University email servers.

“This is a great alternative to manage the increased demand for email and related network services,” said URI’s Chief Information Officer Garry Bozylinsky. “It provides students with a robust and reliable email service with greater storage capacity and other services than we could offer. At the same time this improves the efficacy of our services to faculty and staff for research and teaching. It’s a digital win-win.”

This switch is happening nationwide and Google now manages email for more than 2,000 colleges and universities. Gmail offers students about 7 gigabytes of storage space, can handle large attachments in emails, and provides a full suite of other features. By contrast, URI’s WebMail provided just 10 megabytes of storage and limited attachments to less than one gig.

The Student Senate Academic Affairs Committee, chaired by David Coates, sponsored the bill. Coates is the Senate’s new president.

“The URI WebMail system was archaic and failed to meet the needs of students. Since most students needed to find alternative email services, like gmail, we felt this would be the best for all,” said Coates. “We’re looking forward to starting a new year.”

Directions and a series of dates related to the new system and email forwarding were sent to students via email, posted on all eCampus Web pages and were shared with faculty and staff.