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January 8, 2003

Duplicate e-mail accounts problem tackled

In response to concerns about multiple e-mail accounts raised at a recent Faculty Assembly meeting, the Senate’s computer usage committee met with the head of Computer Services and Systems Development (CSSD) last month to devise a solution.

Some faculty with joint Pitt/UPMC appointments, the vast majority of whom are in the medical school, complained that they rarely, if ever accessed their Pitt e-mail accounts and thus were unaware of messages sent to them through those accounts. See Dec. 5 University Times.

About 15 percent of medical school faculty with Pitt e-mail accounts had not accessed those accounts in the last six months, according to Jinx Walton, director of CSSD.

CSSD is not empowered to forward e-mail on its own, Walton said. Furthermore, as a consequence of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (commonly known as HIPAA), UPMC, prompted by medical privacy considerations, decided about a year ago to prohibit the forwarding of e-mail from UPMC accounts, Walton said. “But e-mails to Pitt accounts can be automatically set to forward to UPMC accounts” with relative ease, she said.

Walton is working with the Office of the Senior Associate Dean of the School of Medicine to help alleviate the problem.

At the Dec. 5 meeting, computer usage committee members agreed the issue was resolvable at the departmental level. They passed a recommendation stating that the onus for fixing the problem be put on the information technology support staff at each unit, who can set up faculty computer accounts to forward e-mail to the appropriate UPMC addresses.

Committee chairperson John Close said he would make the recommendation at the next Faculty Assembly meeting, set for Feb. 3.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 9

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