PeopleSoft has excellent functionality for automating communications with students. In addition to producing the data necessary to do mail merges, it can keep track of what communications have been sent, and when they were sent. Outgoing communications can be either letters or e-mail.
While it is up to the discretion of individual offices, we expect that some communications, such as those of a highly sensitive nature, would continue to utilize paper processing. We envision e-mail to be used for the more routine administrative communications, which currently comprise the bulk of communications with current students. Examples of such uses might include:
Notices to students who have incomplete grades (i.e. I, X, etc.)
Notice about registration windows
Verification notices to graduate students
Notice of courses approved for transfer credit
Notice of classroom change
Payment due date notice
Insurance decision reminder
Account status notices
Notification that loan/scholarship checks need to be endorsed
Service indicator notifications: registration block, transcript hold, diploma hold
Financial Aid Offices
Notification of incomplete files for renewal of aid
Notification that federal verification is required and request for information
Notification of renewal of aid award.
Status of application
Notification of missing application information
Notification of advisement appointment
Announcement to majors and minors about upcoming events
Using e-mail saves paper, printing, envelopes, and mailing costs. In addition, students will receive information directed to them much more quickly than was possible with paper processing. Large batches of e-mail communications can be "delivered" overnight (to avoid saturating the campus network during work hours) and be waiting for students when they log in the next day.
Further, e-mail is considered an official means of communication, as stated in the Undergraduate Bulletin: "Duke University recognizes and utilizes electronic mail as a medium for official communications. The university provides all students with e-mail accounts as well as access to e-mail services from public clusters if students do not have personal computers of their own. All students are expected to access their e-mail accounts on a regular basis to check for and respond as necessary to such communications, just as they currently do with paper/postal service mail."