President Milliken's message to employees
A robust, reliable, effective and secure e-mail system is critical to the operation of the modern university. On a daily basis, our e-mail system facilitates the conduct of official business with Regents, students, faculty, staff and administrators as well as various outside agencies, research facilities and countless stakeholder groups and citizens.
The current Lotus Notes environment has been in place for 14 years, and I had been receiving an increasing number of requests in the last few years to consider whether it was the best system for a large university. I put consideration of this issue on hold during the initial implementation of a new student information system. Last year, with the encouragement of the campus chancellors and campus chief information officers, among others, I appointed a university-wide task force, chaired by Dr. John Ballard, Professor of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to undertake a study of our e-mail environment. The task force included faculty and staff representing all campuses. I asked the task force to fully examine whether the current e-mail system best meets the needs and requirements of our faculty and staff in a cost-effective way, and if not, to recommend any changes it thought appropriate. The task force conducted focus groups and surveys to elicit comments on faculty and staff e-mail requirements.
The task force recommended that the University consider migrating from our current Lotus Notes e-mail system for faculty, staff and administrators to a less costly and more advanced and suitable cloud-based environment. It further recommended that I institute a process to solicit competitive proposals from vendors to best meet university needs. I reviewed the task force report with the chancellors and they unanimously endorsed proceeding with the strategy recommended. Subsequently, I asked University Chief Information Officer Walter Weir to work with campus CIOs to formalize the user and system requirements and to solicit competitive proposals. A formal RFP process was followed and after careful consideration, we determined that the Microsoft proposal best met the University’s overall requirements relating to functionality and cost.
I am pleased to report that we have now entered into an agreement with Microsoft – one that campus leaders and I consider to be quite positive for the University. Many leading universities, including the majority of institutions in the Big Ten and other peer campuses, have implemented Microsoft e-mail systems. Over the next 12-18 months, all campuses of the University of Nebraska will migrate to the Microsoft system. We intend to install an Office 365 cloud-based e-mail system at UNL, UNO, UNK and UNCA and Exchange 2010 at UNMC (a premise-based version preferred because of HIPAA requirements). Student migration will depend on existing agreements. Campus technical teams will be working together to build the required back end infrastructure to support the migration and deployment. In addition, several implementation teams have been named to work on issues such as training and migration of records including e-mail, calendar entries, personal contact lists and directories.
Employees currently using Lotus Notes e-mail and all those whose e-mail addresses use @unk.edu, @unmc.edu, @unl.edu, @unomaha.edu, @nebraska.edu, will not need to change their e-mail addresses.
I want to thank Dr. Ballard, the members of the task force, and the chief information officers and others who have been involved in this process for their good work on behalf of the University. Attached you will find a Q&A that addresses some of the common questions surrounding this change. More specific information about the migration will be shared as plans are finalized and implemented. We will maintain the most current information at www.nebraska.edu/email, and I also encourage you to contact your campus chief information officer with your questions so that we can be responsive to all employee concerns.
James B. Milliken