Discussion regarding private, University-provided email occurs at Senate Executive Committee meeting

Concerns about forwarding email to third party services and responding to students who use a non-University account were raised at the Senate Executive Committee’s meeting Monday afternoon.

Michael Corn, chief privacy and security officer, said he wanted to discuss possible changes to an electronic communications policy directly with the committee prior to speaking with the senate as a whole because “the urgency of getting something in place is going to be problematic if (senate discussion) was pushed to the fall.”

The major revisions were centered on sections of policy that deal with using email for educational purposes for faculty and staff; however, a specific section of the policy was widely discussed due to the nature of confidential information being sent without the sender being verified.

“If you’re a faculty member and [email protected] sends you an email, you don’t know who Joe Smith is,” Corn said.

He suggested that faculty and staff should try to communicate with students through the University’s Gmail service, especially for sending personal student information such as grades.

Sarah Projansky, chair of the Senate’s Conference on Conduct Governance, said it would be problematic if she received numerous emails from private accounts and had to look up individual NetIDs through the directory on the campus website’s homepage.

Corn said sending information to a private account is based on “good judgment,” and it is up to the faculty member to determine if the account looks suspicious.

“It’s very easy to make something that looks like real,” he added.

According to the unrevised policy, all faculty and staff must use a University-provided email when conducting business. However, this policy is not set to take effect until 2012 when the transition to a universal email service will be completed.

Projansky said she agrees with the policy, but does not think it will be followed. Corn said it is better to have a policy that is generally followed than a “black hole”.

In addition, Corn discouraged faculty members to redirect their email from their University email account to a private account as the University can’t prevent Gmail from having that option available.

The electronic communications policy will be slightly revised before the policy is brought up to the full senate at its Sept. 12 meeting.

Also during committee meeting, Robert Easter, interim vice president and chancellor, and Richard Wheeler, interim provost, praised chancellor-designate Phyllis Wise.

“Both of us know the age of the interim is coming to an end,” Wheeler said.

He later added, “Everything I’ve seen about Chancellor Wise is encouraging.”