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October 10, 2002

Upon request, Pitt will forward e-mail of faculty who die, resign

When faculty members die, resign or otherwise leave Pitt, the University normally terminates their Pitt e-mail accounts within two weeks.

But if account owners (or surviving family members and colleagues) request an extension, e-mail may continue to be forwarded for up to one year from the account of a terminated faculty member.

Such an extension gives terminated faculty or their survivors time to tie up loose ends, said Susan Sereika, co-chairperson of the University Senate’s computer usage committee.

Sereika told Faculty Assembly about e-mail account extensions during an Oct. 1 report on current issues in Pitt computing.

To request an extension, the account owner or his/her survivors should contact the e-mail account administrator in the owner’s responsibility center, Sereika said.

She also reported that faculty increasingly are exceeding the 80 Mbs of bandwidth that Pitt provides for network/Internet access. That’s largely due to faculty use of peer-to-peer file sharing software such as KaZaA, Gnutella and LimeWire, according to Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) office.

“It is estimated that 99 percent of the use of peer-to-peer software is for locating and downloading copyrighted movies, songs and software,” Sereika said. “Once downloaded, these files become available from the individual’s computer to anyone else using the peer-to-peer software.

“Peer-to-peer software uses all available bandwidth when sharing files, straining network resources and exposing users to copyright infringement complaints when copyrighted files are shared.”

Using sophisticated new search engines, copyright holders can easily detect and report copyright violations, Sereika warned. “Computer users are individually liable for any copyright infringement that they commit,” she noted.

Students likewise are saturating their Pitt-provided bandwidth but they’re not clogging the bandwidth allocated to faculty, said Sereika. She also reported that:

• CSSD provides faculty with free CDs and computer software (including web browsers, browser plug-ins, anti-virus software) to facilitate access to Pitt network and computer accounts. Faculty may obtain the CDs and software at any Pitt public computing lab upon presenting their valid University ID.

• The University’s new student Web portal service ( permits students to customize their view of Pitt’s various web sites and services, in addition to commonly used Internet-based services. CSSD projects that this same portal service will be available to faculty by April 2003. “One of the nicest features [of this service] is that you will be able to see your e-mail via the Web,” Sereika said.

• CSSD is devoting “significant resources” to fighting computer abuse, security breaches and copyright infringement. “Computers whose security has been breached are frequently used as a masked conduit of copyrighted materials,” Sereika said.

“The best method for protecting personal computers from abuse is to make sure that the operating system and application software are kept up-to-date by applying patches and updates issued by the software publisher,” she said. “If you suspect your computer’s security has been compromised, report incidents at or the Technology Help Desk” at 412/624-HELP.

She urged faculty with any Pitt computing and networking problems to contact the Help Desk, which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Problems may be submitted online at

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 35 Issue 4

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