Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A California Community College Adopts Google's E-Mail Service for All Its Students

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A California community college has a new campuswide e-mail provider, and it has a familiar name: Google.

San Jose City College, which is part of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District, is paying Google an undisclosed sum to provide server space and maintenance so that the college's 10,000 students can have free e-mail service, starting this semester. Google is also seeking out other institutions looking for the same service.

The program will be run through Google's popular Gmail service, but the students' e-mail addresses will include the college's domain name, Students will be able to check their e-mail through a link on the college's Web site.

Michael John Renzi, director of finance and administration for the college, said it is difficult for community colleges to provide e-mail to their students because some of them are enrolled for as little as one semester, while others stay for years.

"It's quite daunting to administer 10,000 accounts when they come and go," Mr. Renzi said. "This turned out to be the most cost-effective avenue for us." Neither the college nor Google would discuss how much the college is paying for the service, but Gmail accounts are available free to individuals. The company makes money by scanning users' e-mail messages and presenting ads based on the messages' content.

Mr. Renzi said students expect to get a free e-mail address when they enroll in college nowadays. San Jose City College officials plan to use the Gmail accounts to reach all of the institution's students without relying on them to report what their personal e-mail addresses are.

"Before, students would have several different e-mail accounts," which made it difficult for the administration to communicate with everyone enrolled, Mr. Renzi said.

The Gmail service will be used only for students. Faculty and staff members will continue to have traditional e-mail accounts through the college.

Other companies, including Microsoft, provide similar services to colleges. Microsoft's service, Hotmail University, has several colleges as participants.

"We're all over that," said Jason D. Glashow, a spokesman for Microsoft. "Where do you think these good ideas come from?"

Google announced the service on its blog and solicited other colleges to inquire as well. "Massive storage and features that tame the most unruly in boxes, like powerful mail search, conversation view for messages, and a fast interface, make Gmail very handy for students," said Stephanie Hannon, Gmail product manager, in the blog message.


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