The University of California Davis ended a Gmail pilot program for faculty and moved its 30,000 student off of Google Apps in May, citing similar security concerns.

UC Davis technology officials, including CIO and Vice Provost Peter Siegel, said in a letter to faculty that “outsourcing eMail may not be in compliance with the University of California Electronic Communications Policy,” adding that faculty who participated in a Gmail pilot said the campus’s commitment to privacy was “not demonstrated by Google and that the appropriate safeguards are neither in place at this time nor planned for the near future.”

The University of Massachusetts joined the anti-Gmail fray in May when IT officials there said they would completely phase out the eMail service, along with Google Apps such as Docs, Calendar, and Sites. UMass officials cited low adoption rates among students since Google services were made available through the university at the start of the fall 2009 semester.

Only 7 percent of UMass’s 20,000 undergraduate students switched from the university’s eMail system to Gmail, according to published reports and a university spokesman who confirmed those numbers.

Google doesn’t track the number of colleges and universities that use Gmail, but Obadiah Greenberg, a spokesman for the company, said there are thousands of K-12 schools and college campuses using the service today. And many schools report major budget savings.

California State University’s Fullerton campus saved $160,000 this year by changing over to Gmail after the campus was hit with a 24-percent budget reduction at the start of the academic year. Vanderbilt University reportedly saves $750,000 annually by using Gmail.

Other prominent schools that have transferred student and faculty eMail services to Google’s servers include Northwestern University, Villanova University, Case Western University, and Notre Dame.

“Any time someone doesn’t like a Google product, we care, and we reach out … to understand how we can improve our products,” Greenberg said. “I think there are a couple of stories that caught some attention, but they’re relatively small compared to the bigger story, which is millions of students using our apps.”


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