Information Technology
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Mass Email Guidelines

While everyone dislikes the receipt of unsolicited, commercial email (usually referred to as "spam"), email sent to a specific, targeted, audience with a high likelihood of having interest in the contents, is more palatable.

It is in this vein that the University occasionally sends out mass email to specific groups; usually all students, all faculty, all staff, or any combination of the three groups.  Examples of mail sent in this manner include campus events, upcoming elections, symposiums, etc.

In order to provide an adequate level of comfort that the mail received is safe, we have several operational procedures and guidelines in place for any mail being sent by Information Technology on the behalf of other departments.  One method, already in place, is to place a tag at the beginning of the subject line for such mail: [MSUmail].  While this won't guarantee its origin, as anyone could add it to their mail, its absence would let you know that the mail was not mass mail sent by Information Technology or by IT on behalf of another office. 

Information for sending mail

Mass email communications should be used only when a University emergency or an urgent need-to-know warrants their use and should be used sparingly. The appropriate University officer, as outlined in the procedures below, will be responsible for determining whether a requested mass electronic mailing is warranted. It is also important to use multiple channels, that is alternative means, to broadcast emergency, urgent, and time-critical important information, since there is no guarantee that members of the University community will read their email on time.


1. Appropriate Topics: Appropriate broadcast topics include, but are not limited to
• Urgent security (physical or computer) matters, such as bomb or terrorist threats, computer system threats
• Campus-wide policy changes that are time critical, such as a new immunization requirement or other legal requirement that must be met for continuing matriculation at the University
• Notices concerning changes to traffic flow on the University campus
• Other time critical financial and administrative deadlines and announcements

2. Inappropriate Topics: Inappropriate broadcast topics include, but are not limited to
• Any message whose content is not relevant to MSU's core mission
• The announcement of events
• Club or group information
• Any commercial mailing
• Any solicitations
• Personal messages

Additional Criteria for Email Messages

1. Email Subject:

The Subject line must be descriptive.

2. Email Body:

• The initial text of the message should indicate that it is a broadcast message and the office sending the message.
• The message body should indicate why the message is being sent.
• The name, email address, and phone number of a person for the recipients to contact should be contained in the message.
• The broadcast message should contain plain text only whenever possible. Special formatting will increase the time needed for conversion due to email client constraints and may affect timely delivery of the message.
• Attachments, such as Microsoft Word documents, are strongly discouraged due to the impact on system performance and mailbox quota limitations.
• Messages should be brief and to the point. Provide instructions on how additional information can be obtained.
• Any hyperlinks should include the fully qualified address (include the http:// part) to assure that most recipients will see the "active" links in your message.
• The message should be proofread for spelling, grammatical and content errors.

3. Email Footer:

• An unobtrusive notice that the mass emailing has been approved by the appropriate University officer will be included in the final email.

Procedures for Mass electronic mailings

Mass electronic mailings must be approved by the appropriate University officer. The officer will consider whether the request is appropriate considering the criteria and guidelines noted above. Requests for mass email should be directed to the Office of the Vice President for your division. The message must be approved by either the Vice President or their delegate.

Except in emergencies, lead time of at least one working day is required for any mass emailing. In any case, several hours may be required to set up a mass emailing and the message will be sent in batches over several hours so that normal University email delivery will not be seriously affected and degraded.

If the request is approved, the University officer granting approval will send the mass email message to the Assistant Vice President for Technology in the Office of Information Technology which will have the message distributed to the appropriate recipient group. For those messages not deemed appropriate for mass distribution, the requester will receive a message indicating this.

The University will not provide electronic (email) addresses to any external group without written authorization from the University President.

Questions about these guidelines may be directed to the Office of Information Technology at 783-2068.