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Lifetime e-mail comes with college diplomas


May 4, 2001

SWARTHMORE, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Graduate from college these days and chances are you'll get more than a diploma. Hundreds of schools now offer lifetime e-mail addresses for alums.

Get an "alum.swarthmore.edu" address if you've graduated from Swarthmore College. The University of Pennsylvania offers "alumni.upenn.edu," while California's Harvey Mudd College gives out "alumni.hmc.edu" addresses to graduates.

Schools will be stuffing campus mailboxes in the coming weeks informing graduating seniors of this increasingly popular perk. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a full-page ad in its "Technology Review" magazine this month.

Michael Fordice, a biotech consultant who received his Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT in 1966, considers his alumni address "a subtle resume."

"If you have an 'alum.mit.edu' address, people know right away you're an MIT grad," said Maggy Bruzelius, the school's director of alumni network services. "That should be a pretty powerful tool."

With a few exceptions, schools don't directly provide mail services. Alums must get their mail accounts elsewhere. Messages sent to the alumni address are simply forwarded.

Using such a service, no longer does someone changing jobs or switching service providers have to try to contact everyone who might have their old e-mail address -- inevitably missing a few. All they need do is visit a Web site to have messages redirected to a new account.

"You can now print your e-mail address on a card," said Gary Toyn, associate director of alumni relations at Weber State University in Utah.

Handy for students

It's useful these days, when people can lose their e-mail overnight if they are laid off or their Internet provider goes out of business. It's also handy for households that get high-speed service, dropping dial-up providers.

Pamela Oberg, a 1993 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, changed e-mail services four times but only had to inform classmates, friends and family once.

Schools can also be sure they'll get the latest e-mail addresses of their alums to send newsletters, invitations to events, perhaps even pitches for financial gifts.

"Alums who stay connected and stay involved ultimately are inclined to support Bucknell financially," said Kristin Woods, associate director of Bucknell University's Office of Alumni, Parents and Volunteers.

Binghamton, Ohio State and Harvard are among other schools offering alumni addresses ending in ".edu," the Internet suffix for educational institutions. The UCLA Alumni Association gives out addresses with "UCLAlumni.net," while Stanford University uses "stanfordalumni.org." In Stanford's case, alums get full e-mail services, not just forwarding.

Unlike other promotional services, such as credit cards, schools get no income from e-mail forwarding, which can cost thousands of dollars to run. But linked with bulletin boards, job postings and other offerings, schools consider e-mail services a good way to encourage alums to stay in touch -- and even volunteer to interview applicants or help seniors with career counseling.

MIT forwarded more than 2 million messages in March. More than 35,000 out of 90,000 alums, or about 40 percent, have signed up since MIT began offering the service in 1997.

Elsewhere, sign-up rates are usually much lower -- often less than 10 percent.

Few risks involved

Some schools do not offer e-mail forwarding to alums at all, finding they would rather devote limited resources to current students and faculty. But that attitude is changing, and many schools have added such services in the past year or two, sometimes at the request of alums.

While some schools handle forwarding services through their own computers, others contract them to companies like Harris Publishing Co., which has long printed alumni directories for colleges and universities.

Similar forwarding services are available to the general public for free from Bigfoot Communications or for a fee through Pobox.com. Some individuals have also created domain names with their last names.

A permanent e-mail address does carry risks, however. The longer an account is active, the greater the chance of receiving unsolicited junk e-mail.

Weber's Toyn limits his "alumni.weber.edu" address to friends and family.

"I give a dot-com address to everyone else," he said. "I can rely on the fact that when I open it (the alumni account) up and have three or four messages, they will be messages I want to read."

Taked from http://www.cnn.com

Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press.


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