Miami University alumni previously had lifetime access to their Miami email addresses as an entry route to their first jobs and as a way for the university to stay in touch with its previous students. After April 8, 2024, though, that window will be reduced from a lifetime to just 45 days.
Alumni were notified on March 27, 2023, and given a little over a year's notice to transition to another email account. Kim Tavares, associate vice president and executive director of the Miami University Alumni Association, said the university gave more time to alumni in comparison to other colleges and only offered a few months to transition over what they needed.
“We wanted to be able to give the good Miami customer service to our alumni and give them the time to be able to make this change,” Tavares said. “So this not only gives our alumni more time, but it gives us more time as well to make sure that we are capturing information correctly, getting updated information and just helping to monitor the process.”
This development is due to Miami’s service provider, Google, which offered free Google Suite to universities for more than a decade. Many schools, including Miami, took advantage of this provider for email access to alumni.
“About a year ago, Google, on pretty short notice, informed the entire higher education community that they were going to end that service and that it would be moving to a paid service, and that's a massive impact,” David Seidl, vice president for information technology and CIO, said.
Moving from a free service provider, the IT department decided to contact the alumni department to determine their next steps.
After speaking with the department and looking into whether or not payment was needed, the university realized how little alumni actually utilized the lifetime email access given to them.
“It turned out the alumni use of storage, which is the expensive thing through Google, was more than half of Miami's entire usage,” Seidl said. “There was a large cost there for relatively low usage by individuals. So a small percentage of our alumni population was dragging a large amount of the usage because it was infinite and free, and we didn't have to care until suddenly that was no longer true.”
Seidl said the IT department would rather aim the resources and energy absorbed by alumni email access towards current faculty, staff and students.
With over 240,000 alumni, only about 80,000 have a miamioh.edu email address on file.
The alumni administration sent the first email about the loss of access to those who had a Miami email on file, even if it was not their primary email address. Then, they sent the information again through a postcard.
Mackenzie Kicher, ’21 Miami graduate, said she found out through an undergraduate and later received the physical copy that was sent to her parents’ address.
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“I'm glad they didn't email the old email, because I totally would not have seen it because at this point, like I don't use that email ever … so that was nice to get a physical copy,” Kicher said.
Like Kicher, many alumni do not use their previous university email addresses after a year or so following graduation and switch to personal accounts, but some graduates were upset with the new transition.
“Less than 1% of that 80,000 [alumni with email access] have come back to us … [with a] negative response,” Tavares said. “I understand them … They're important as well, and we are working with them to try to help them out.”
Because of the 13-month advance notice, Tavares believes they are doing everything they can to assist anyone who may need help or have questions regarding the process.
“The majority of the responses have just been questions,” Tavares said. “Some people read the date wrong … there's others, if they're struggling with the process, we have the ability to help them [and] that's the great thing, too, about giving them the lead time. We can assist them and have better customer service and [try] to do it very quickly.”