Campus adopts Google's Gmail as students' email service

Students at UC Davis will start using Gmail as their campus email service this fall.

The campus has approved the switch from the homegrown Geckomail service to give students access to an email system with vastly expanded data storage space, more features, and access to popular communication tools in Google Apps for Education. Students will continue to use their existing email addresses.

The decision follows a successful trial of Gmail with about 300 students in the winter quarter, plus several months of review and discussion with key groups across campus. Several groups have endorsed the change, including the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, and the student Senate.

Faculty and staff accounts are not moving to Gmail, although the campus will begin preliminary discussions on the subject down the road.

The switch gives students use of an email system that is rich with features, and provides access to Google applications such as Calendar, Docs, Sites and Talk that make it easier for students to work together, said Gast?n De Ferrari, Gmail project manager in Information and Educational Technology.

"This ease of collaboration will greatly enhance their learning experience at UC Davis," he said.

Google Inc. is providing the service at no cost to the university.

While many students already use Gmail on their own, using UC Davis Gmail will remove advertising that would normally come with Gmail, and add an extra layer of security.

The new UC Davis Gmail service doesn't have a name yet, but should by fall. Other key points:

--The transition to Gma il will begin in the second week of October and end in December.

--Students will register for their Gmail account at the campus Gmail Web site, currently (Look for a new address once the service has a permanent name.) Simple instructions will also tell students how to move their existing campus email to their new account.

-- Each account will have upwards of 6 gigabytes of data storage, more than 100 times greater than students have with Geckomail.

--The campus computing services help desk, IT Express, will help support use of Gmail. Google Apps will be supported by Google.

--Students will still be able to access email through the MyUCDavis Web portal.

--The switch affects all undergraduate and graduate students, except for Medical Center students, who use UC Davis Health System mail systems.

--Nor will it affect students' contact information in the campus emergency alert system. Students who sign up during class registration to receive emergency notices will not need to re-enter their information, because their UC Davis email addresses will not change.

Students have embraced the service. Information and Educational Technology ran two surveys among the varied sample of students who joined the Gmail pilot last winter. In the first survey, 90 percent of the students said they would recommend the UC Davis Gmail service to their friends. In the second survey, after they had used Gmail awhile, the number grew to 94 percent.

The University of California Office of the President signed a systemwide, seven-year, basic Gmail contract with Google Inc. in June. The agreement gives UC Davis exclusive control of UC Davis email accounts, and lets the campus back out of the relationship at any t ime. UC Davis is the first campus in the system to adopt Gmail.

As required by federal law and university policy, the university will not share personally identifiable confidential information with Google or any other third parties. An ad hoc privacy committee at UC Davis also reviewed the Google agreement, and found no concerns that prevent using the service here.

Students will have to agree to terms of service that will remind them of best practices and campus policy regarding email. A copy of the terms can also be found through a link at