We'll Support It - If You Can Agree: Universal E-Mail at the University of Pennsylvania


In highly decentralized universities where substantial computing services are provided by the schools, a major challenge for a central computing organization is getting the schools to agree on a software and hardware portfolio that is both limited and supportable. From the schools' point of view, the challenge is to provide the specialized services their clients need while pressing for central support that is of necessity more generic. From the schools' point of view, in fact, a better title for this presentation is "If We Can Agree.. You'll Have to Support It." The University of Pennsylvania's journey toward universal electronic mail for faculty, students, and staff offers technical, political, and organizational insights across diverse constituencies. What started as a task force to explore the feasibility of a common e-mail offering for undergraduates became a lightning rod and forcing function for other campus-wide issues, including the role of the network, the relationship of central computing ot the schools, and the contrast in perspective between large, technologically sophisticated schools and smaller ones.

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