Assitant News Editor
After the consolidation of usernames for myGate, network log-in and Blackboard, the information system’s department carried over fused usernames to students’ Racermail accounts Monday.
In the past, usernames were formatted with the user’s first and last name separated with a period. With the new format, only the student’s first initial and last name are shown, in some cases with numbers at the end of the name.
Linda Miller, chief information officer, said that, though the old format seemed seamless, users experienced chronic problems.
“Everybody was pretty comfortable with (the old format), because it was easy to remember the first name,” she said. “So people thought they had a pretty good shot at knowing someone’s username, they didn’t, but they thought they did.”
Miller said the problems with the old format arose when emails, occasionally including confidential material, were sent to the wrong person due to confusion of usernames.
“So there was an issue with, what looked like a very transparent naming system that people thought that they would know the username and they used it, but increasingly were running into duplication problems,” she said.
Once a username is assigned, whether or not the user takes advantage of it, it is no longer in existence, Miller said.
When myGate was introduced at the University approximately four years ago, email usernames could not be used as myGate usernames because the system did not recognize periods, Miller said.
Blackboard had its own structure as well, she said.
“Those were our main campus systems and there was nothing to tie them together,” she said. “They had to all be completely different.”
The consolidation process for Network ID and the myGate and Blackboard usernames began approximately a year ago. Racermail usernames were not switched over initially because of the complexity of the job, Miller said.
“We were really concerned about email because it is something that people use a whole lot; they use that more than any campus system, so we didn’t want to do anything that disrupts the user experience,” Miller said.
She said an incredible amount of background work went into changing the username format so that no messages would be lost, she said.
Last summer, all colleges and all departments were given the new email addresses. Last Monday, Miller said all student accounts were changed as well. She said the information system’s department is looking at students’ email addresses that have not been changed. These students, she said have most likely transferred after a semester or left the University in some way.
Miller said there were not many problems that occurred during this change other than miscommunication.
“The problems that we encountered were misinformation by people who had only heard half the story,” Miller said.
Some faculty members were under the impression that their email accounts would be entirely erased, she said.
Miller said the email username changes could impact users because it requires them to change their accounts on their smart phones and change their addresses if they are part of any list serves. Information on how to do so, she said, is available on the support tab of Racernet.
Garrett Wheatley, manager of help desk and user services, said the consolidation process makes it easier on the system users.
“With the consolidation, it’s one less thing you have to remember,” he said. “Everything’s going to be the same, username wise.”
In the future, Wheatley said, the department is looking to consolidate credentials for the system log-ins as well, meaning both passwords and usernames will be the same.