Sometimes you read things that make such utter nonsense that you wonder how a major institution like Michigan State University manages to remain open and competitive and viable in the modern world with such archaic, Old Worlde, and utterly wrong, notions:

Michigan State University has announced that it will stop providing full-service e-mail accounts to alumni who graduated more than two years ago, a cutback that will affect 117,000 people. Some of them are complaining, but officials say it is a necessary cost-cutting measure.

David Gift, vice provost for libraries and information-technology services, said that the policy had always been to discontinue full-service accounts two years after a student’s last class, but that the university simply had not enforced it. He doesn’t know of any other university that still offers full-service alumni accounts indefinitely; most terminate full e-mail accounts within a year after graduation, or turn them into forwarding accounts. The change will take effect on August 31.

Keeping all those alumni accounts running was costing Michigan State about $600,000 a year, said Mr. Gift. They amounted to about 45 percent of all university e-mail accounts. The money saved can be used to upgrade services for current students, he said.

Methinks Michigan State University needs to pay a visit to their new Big 10 brethren like the grand olde University of Nebraska-Lincoln to get a clue how to honor alumni and keep them close even at a distance:

I was surprised to read the news that the University of Nebraska are moving their email system from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud. When I saw Microsoft paid $250,000.00USD to get Nebraska to choose Office 365 instead of Google Apps for Education, it all became clear. Nebraska took the money and followed the bribe.

As a former UNL student, I have free lifetime alumni email — and it isn’t a forwarding service.  It’s a full, honest, robust, huskers.unl.edu email account:

Here’s why giving students and alumni a “Once and For All” email address is smart:  Because it creates indelible and identifiable tethers to a school forever.  Students should be allowed to take their email address with them after graduation because they’ve used that point of contact in for four years.  Email is a bond.  Changing email addresses is always a hassle.  Now UNL students can have a single university email address and never have to worry about losing connectoids with others in the foraging of their social networks as they mature into adulthood. …

It didn’t always used to be Huskers.UNL.edu as an alumni email address at Nebraska.  The old alumni email address was attached to the clunky — @HuskerAlum.com domain — ouch!, so ugly!

My Columbia University alumni email account started as a “forwarding only” email address, but it is now a full email account I can login and use provided by Google Apps for Education.  I absolutely love it.

Having both a Huskers.UNL.edu and a caa.Columbia.edu email addresses forever binds me to my beloved schools.  Even though I’m not on campus every day, I still feel a deep connection with my home universities and Michigan State University needs to reverse their ridiculous policy on alumni email and join education in the Twentieth Century.

14 Comments

  1. I’m being the devil’s advocate here: But I think it’s a better move than say, cutting wages, removing personnel, etc. It’s an ‘electronic’ cut, rather than a personal cut i.e. money, class offerings and people. Loyalty can hang around in the form of resumes, memorabilia, ‘school pride’, etc.
    I agree, it’s fun to have a ‘unique’ email address that only a select few can have. It creates a status all by itself, which is commendable.
    But in the big scheme of the meme ( 🙂 ) I think it’s a better option than some others they could have taken.

    1. Lillian! You surprise me! SMILE!

      I can’t believe email is that expensive. If it really does cost that much for that school, then they’re doing it wrong. UNL got MSFT to PAY THEM half a million dollars to move to Live.com email — and Google Apps for Education is basically free and Google runs the infrastructure.

      What MSU are doing is showing they have no gumption or understanding or heart with this move. It’s shortsighted from every angle and will only save them pennies compared to the pound of flesh they’re giving up.

      1. So is this the celebrity endorsement any great establishment craves? (hee hee)
        I don’t get what real use that string of letters does for the supporting university.
        It’s not free marketing, YOU won’t be returning and spending more money, I don’t see the benefit of doing it, other than keeping with tradition and the “Joneses”.

        1. It’s all about branding. Schools force you to use their email system as a student to keep their systems secure and to create school cohesion and spirit. They then want that school email address to be the email address you continue to use for your entire lifetime. You take it with you — the smart schools believe — and you “spread the word” around the world with every single email you send and receive as your network grows beyond your class of origin.

          1. I didn’t know it was a requirement to use it in the first place. This is making more sense now. Ok, I give a little. Just a little. Of course, in my lifetime I never had the opportunity to brand myself with any particular educational institution on any level. I was moved around too much. So I may not understand the loyalty that is grown by keeping your identity with the school for a lifetime. Rock on!! 🙂

          2. When I went to UNL and Columbia there was no such thing as email — so these schools are trying extra hard to catch up and entice the older alumni back in the fold with these free email addresses to help re-connect and build school spirit and enhance donations. SMILE! The idea moving forward with current students is that you’ll love your school so much, you’ll want to keep promoting your good experience into the future by helping sell the brand with your email address.

          3. AHA! There’s the benefit. Donations. I was trying to follow the money trail, and you just said it. You may rest your case. You win.

          4. Universities are always first about money — before education, even! SMILE! Yes, at the start of the email boom, if you wanted a “premium” email account from your school — that wasn’t just a forwarding address — you had to pay for it with an alumni organization donation. Today, they don’t want your money upfront, they want you to change your current main email address permanently to theirs — and then they hope the connections and money will begin to flow.

            That’s why this Michigan State University alumni email account cancellation is so strange! It’s old, uncomfortable, failed thinking!

  2. Hi, David- I’m glad the Columbia alumni email services are working for you! We hope you stay connected with the Columbia Alumni Association. alumni.columbia.edu

    Emily Morris
    Director, Alumni Services and Outreach
    Columbia Alumni Association

    1. Hi Emily!

      Thanks for the great comment! I’m so thrilled Columbia University made the change to Google Apps for Education. You now have a robust, secure and absolutely top-notch email system for alumni to use and enjoy.

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