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The University of Tennessee at Martin extends lifetime email to faculty/staff retirees. 

 

In addition, we have recently been asked whether or not to allow retirees to retain personal web pages as well.  I would be interested in knowing what other higher education institutions do with these?

 

Thanks,

Terry

 

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Terry Lewis

The University of Tennessee at Martin

Interim Chief Information Officer

Information Technology Services

215 Hurt Street

127 Crisp Hall

Martin, Tennessee  38238

tlewis@utm.edu

(731) 881-7898

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From: Hanby, Bill [mailto:whanby@HASTINGS.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2012 9:43 AM
Subject: Retiree Email Accounts

 

Good morning,

 

I am conducting research to determine if other higher educational organizations allow employees who retire the option of retaining their email account after they leave.  If you could provide feedback, it would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you,

 

William W. Hanby

Chief Information Officer | Office of Information Technology

Hastings College | 710 N. Turner Ave. | Hastings, NE  68901

o. 402.461.7339 | c. 402-705-1906 | whanby@hastings.edu

 

 

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Comments

We allow email and personal web sites for retired faculty.  We recently began allowing retired staff to keep their email accounts, but there has not been a discussion about personal web sites for retired staff.

Rick
Associate Provost for Technology & Information Systems
Wake Forest University



Colleagues

I don't have hard data here, so permit me some observations and questions

As to retention of retiree web pages

Potential advantages

  • Preservation of information -- under the institution's "brand" -- that could be of substantial value to the institution or to the larger world
    • Related to courses taught
    • Relates to past -- or ongoing -- research 
      • Potentially including resources that granting agencies now require be retained, but for which no policy or procedure yet exists
    • Or a more general nature -- perhaps drawn from expertise in other disciplines or experiences or avocations
  • Reduced likelihood that such valuable information would be lost
    • Difficulty of migrating the site to another provider and toolset
    • Other hosting sites, be they commercial or non-profit, may not be as persistent as the university's
    • User support from other hosting sites could be inferior, leading to difficulty in site maintenance 
  • Reduced short-term user support burden
    • Assisting a retiree in migrating a medium-to-large site to platform unfamiliar to university personnel could be a non-trivial effort
    • The site may be the destination for numerous internal and external links
  • Goodwill 
    • Retiree appreciates the courtesy and ongoing sense of affiliation with the institution
    • Colleagues -- both local and remote -- appreciate the university's extension of service to a valued community member

Potential disadvantages

  • Web pages may not have been well maintained
    • Outdated links
    • Outdated content
    • Inadvertent exposure of confidential information
  • Web pages may not have conformed to institutional policies
    • Content -- commercial use, et al.
    • Design
    • Accessibility to users with disabilities
  • Likelihood that thes problems will be exacerbated over time
    • Lack of time or interest in maintaining links or content
    • Changing interests and priorities leading to content less appropriate for the university's imprimatur
    • Disability or death of the retiree

So this seems to be a mixed bag. And as with many aspects of university life, institutions are likely to be overdue in considering the policy and practical implications of retiree web pages.


As to retiree email, an issue that's been with us for two decades and an antecedent issue that may have relevance to web pages

History

  • Before full nternet-accessible email services became available, university IT leaders understood the demand from retirees to have continued access to University-based email. Later, when commercial services proliferated, there were continued advantages to having a persistent address, including correspondents' contact files and list subscriptions. And, especially for faculty members, there was mutual benefit from fostering continued colleagueship -- first actual, then symbolic), analogous to invitations to departmental seminars and membership in the faculty club. 
  • Also, in the early days, I was taken to task by a university "women's club" made up of faculty widows who asserted that -- having worked to put their husbands through grad school, having typed their dissertations, and having raised the kids as their spouses struggled to earn tenure -- the least the university could do was provide them with email and Internet access, or at minimum let them continue to use their deceased husband's account. 
  • By extension, many institutions responded to requests to provide "lifetime" email service to former students -- in some cases motivated by a belief that closer alumni affiliation could increase propensity to donate. Certainly a shorter-term email extension after graduation was perceived to be valuable during a job search or until a grad school email address became available.

But the world has changed dramatically over the past two decades

  • Many Internet users now maintain (at least) two addresses -- one professional and one personal
  • It's straightforward for both users and service providers to arrange forwarding from one address to another, at least for a transition period prior to closing an account

So haven't we reached the point when drawbacks of full-service retiree email outweigh the benefits? 

  • Costs 
  • Ongoing support issues
    • Passwords
    • Disk quotas
    • Client - server configs 
  • Potential need to suspend or terminate such accounts? 
    • How to determine if the retiree has died or is no longer able to use the account
    • Risk that unused accounts are often targets for misuse
    • If you become aware that someone else is using the account, presumably in violation of your AUP -- although this may be necessary for a time after the retiree is deceased or disabled 
    • If the address is the source of spam
      • Deliberate
      • From a cracked account or personal computer 
    • If email content becomes problematic for the university
      • Abusive
      • Politically partisan
      • Illegal
  • The inherent difficulty of advertising a "perpetual" service, given the pace of change in IT

Best regards,

~ Dan

Dan Updegrove
Consultant on IT in Higher Education
Austin, Texas
(512) 331-5098
(512) 423-7785 cell


On Oct 5, 2012, at 9:29 AM, "Matthews, Rick" <matthews@WFU.EDU> wrote:

We allow email and personal web sites for retired faculty.  We recently began allowing retired staff to keep their email accounts, but there has not been a discussion about personal web sites for retired staff.

Rick
Associate Provost for Technology & Information Systems
Wake Forest University



Message from rpickett@mail.sdsu.edu

Dan,

Thanks for the interesting observations, which are accurate.

We offer staff retirees with 20+ years of server, or emeritus faculty, not only email but also all of the Google Apps functionality including web sites.  Since they have access to all of the applications, all of the points you mention apply.  

Even with employed faculty and staff, we have many of the same issues since we don't centrally dictate, or control, web sites of departments or individuals with the exception of Section 508 compliance for University sites.

-- 
Rich Pickett
Chief Information Officer
San Diego State University


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