New Email System for Faculty, Staff

Posted: April 23, 2013 at 5:01 am, Last Updated: April 24, 2013 at 7:03 am

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By Michele McDonald

office-365_logo3For those of you who don’t like to delete email, George Mason University’s new email system with its 25-gigabyte capacity and 10-plus years of archiving ability means you can keep those messages around a little longer.

The move to Microsoft Office 365 kicked off at 5 p.m. Friday, April 12, but greeted most people Monday morning, Tax Day, as they configured desktops, laptops and mobile devices to the new system. Your email address does not change.

There’s a reason for the timing — it’s after the start of the semester but before finals, says Walt Sevon, executive director of George Mason’s Technology Systems Division. “We have to do this during the semester when people are here so we can provide training,” he says.

If faculty returned in the fall to a new email system that launched during the summer, not only would they have to prepare for classes, but they’d need to learn a new system. “We think that’s a bad idea,” Sevon says.

Scores of students have graduated since George Mason’s prior email system, Memo, started in the late ʼ90s. It was time for an upgrade, so a team of faculty and staff began looking at new offerings in 2011.

The choice came down to Google’s Gmail and Microsoft Office 365, Sevon says. Office 365 won out because it had better accessibility for people with vision problems and provided better customer service. Plus, Microsoft could guarantee that email would be stored in the United States, not in a foreign country, he says.

The new system streamlines communication. Cutting and pasting from email into calendars is in the past, Sevon says. If Office 365 is accessed from a web browser, it links to Mason’s directory to give automatic email address lookup.

In addition, Office 365 provides more space without requiring Mason to buy hardware or manage storage, a key money-saver, Sevon says. The 25-gigabyte capacity also is a leap from Memo, which started with less than a gigabyte of storage. “Office 365 has an unlimited archive — you can store a message for the next 10 years,” he adds.

Sevon can relate to faculty and staff who are struggling to configure the new system to their various computers and phones. He started to update his account without looking at the how-to listed on the left side of Mason’s Office 365 website; it didn’t go too well for him.

“Then I decided I needed to read the instructions,” he says, laughing.

As of Friday, April 19, all known Mason employee and generic accounts have been created in Office 365. The migration team is still working to complete mail migration for a few accounts, as well as resolve an issue with the migration of contacts. The migration team is working directly with impacted customers to resolve any issues.

Tools are available to migrate email and contact lists stored locally. For more information, see the Configurations pages on the Office 365 website.

Instructions and responses to the most frequently asked questions are posted on the Office 365 website including configuring mail clients and mobile devices, training on features, and FAQs.

Some common questions and answers follow.

Q. Where is my e-mail account?

A. All Mason e-mail accounts have now been created and migrated to Office 365, so your account should now be created. Please go to Office365.gmu.edu and click the “Login” button to get to your e-mail.

Q. Where is spell check?

A. Spell check is now a function of the browser. Internet Explorer 9 and earlier versions are the only modern browsers that do not support spell checking.

Q. I know I have an e-mail account but I received an error message indicating my Name or Password did not work. Why did this happen since I know I typed my information correctly?

A. There are a small number of faculty and staff that have not used MasonSecure wireless, Internet Native Banner or MESA and thus would not have had to change their password. In that case a person would need to go to http://office365.gmu.edu/Change%20my%20Password%20o365.pdf for instructions. These instructions will allow a person to create a current password that is used in Office 365. This password will work in Office 365 as well as the majority of other systems at Mason. 

Options to Access Email
There are only three ways to access email, and you must use your new Office 365 account.

  • Web Access — The easiest (and preferred) way is through the Outlook Web App. To log in, simply go to the login page at office365.gmu.edu.
  • Mobile Device — Follow device-specific directions to configure your mobile device by going to office365.gmu.edu and clicking on “Configurations” on the left menu for detailed instructions.
  • Desktop Email Client — The common desktop email clients are Outlook 2010 for Windows, and Thunderbird and Outlook 2011 for Mac. You must reconfigure your email client to connect to Office 365. Go to office365.gmu.edu and click on “Configurations” on the left menu for detailed instructions.

Call the ITU Support Center at 703-993-8870 for assistance.

Write to Michele McDonald at mmcdon15@gmu.edu

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