Gmail is the most popular cloud computing email service in higher education.

Hedging about outsourcing campus eMail services to Google seems to have faded in higher education, as 61 of the top 100 U.S. colleges and universities now use Gmail.

Google announced that more than half of the country’s best institutions use the company’s popular eMail after U.S. News and World Report released its annual ranking of the top campuses.

“While this list of schools represents traditions of academic excellence that span centuries, these institutions also clearly recognize the importance and value of modern technology in academia,” Tom Mills, Google’s director of education, wrote in a blog post.

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There are now 14 million students, faculty, and staff members using tools from Google Apps for Education, according to the company.

The use of Gmail at some of the nation’s most venerated schools, including Brown, Yale, and Boston universities, marks a major change in the prevalence of cloud computing services in higher education, IT experts said.

Technology decision makers from campuses of all sizes have been wary in recent years to cede control of their college’s eMail services to Google’s servers – or any other cloud-based systems – often preaching data security over cost savings.

Just last year, many campus technologists said Gmail adoption would stall after a few high-profile hiccups.