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May 12, 2011

System will offer option of paperless mailings

Faculty and staff soon will have the option of receiving general University mass mailings via email instead of paper.

Vincent Arena, co-chair of the University Senate computer usage committee (CUC), reported to the May 3 Faculty Assembly that Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) is launching an opt-in system for employees who want to discontinue receiving general announcement paper mailings. The new system is expected to be available by July 1, he said.

“At the recommendation of our committee and with the appropriate University approvals, CSSD is working with the mailroom service to create an option to receive general University mailings in an email message,” Arena said. “This will save paper for the University. In the past fiscal year, more than 1.2 million pieces of bulk mailing were delivered to faculty and staff.”

How will it work?

“This will be an opt-in type of service. An individual can elect to receive electronic mailings by going to the Pitt portal and, in their profile page, select that they want to receive general mailings electronically instead of on paper,” he said.

“Short, text-only mailings will be included in the body of the email. If the paper mailing included graphics or special formatting, the email will contain a link to a PDF version of the mailing. The PDF file will not be part of the actual email. There would be no email attachments associated with the email,” to help prevent exceeding the recipient’s email quota, Arena said.

Emails will be delivered to Pitt email addresses, as well as to any email forwarding address the individual has set up in the University account.

“A couple of things to note: Not all the University mailings can be sent electronically, so even if you do opt for a paperless system, you still will receive some paper mail when a University unit specifies that it be delivered in paper form,” Arena said.

The rules governing eligibility for University mass mailings will remain in place, he said. Inter-office mail still will be delivered in paper form, as will all U.S. Postal Service mail.

“Currently, it won’t be implemented for the students, but it may be expanded to include the students at a later date,” Arena said.

In addition, CSSD is exploring the launch of a new “faculty dashboard” that would provide a single web site for faculty and administrators University-wide to view and update information, such as CVs, grants and publications, in a user-friendly, centralized way, Arena reported.

The goal would be to reduce redundant forms and time-consuming efforts for faculty and administrators who have to submit similar information to multiple sources.

“Right now this is in the initial, preliminary stage of trying to gather information,” including evaluating similar established systems such as PubMed, where faculty post their research, he said.

“Some schools have a system in place, but our recommendation is to consolidate those systems,” Arena said.

Anyone with suggestions about the faculty dashboard should contact CSSD’s Anne Fay at 4-1072 or

In other Assembly business:

• Senate library committee chair Lou Berry reported that the task force looking into open-access issues and policies is nearing completion of its report. (See April 15 and April 29, 2010, University Times.)

Senate President Michael Pinsky, who co-chairs the task force with Provost Emeritus James Maher, said he expects to discuss the report at the  June 7 Assembly meeting.

—Peter Hart

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