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Email Policy & Procedures


The purpose of this policy is to ensure that:

  • The college community is informed about the applicability of policies and laws with regard to electronic mail and that electronic mail services are used in compliance with these policies and laws.
  • Users of electronic mail are informed about confidentiality, privacy and security applicable to electronic mail.
  • Disruptions to college electronic mail and other services and activities are minimized.


This policy applies to all College employees, contractors, volunteers and students (collectively, users).


In recognition of the increased use of email as a means of communication, the Northern Virginia Community College has established email as the recognized means for sending official information to students and employees. In support of this objective, the College provides an email account to all students and employees of the Northern Virginia Community College.

The College has the right to use email to communicate with students, faculty and staff and to expect that those communications will be received and read in a timely fashion.

Any student, faculty or staff member who has a Northern Virginia Community College email account will also be issued an Email ID. This will be the official address to which the College will send email communications, as well as the address that will be listed in the email directory and other appropriate College publications.

While the easiest way to receive electronic College communication is by using the College’s email service, an individual may choose to have their College email redirected to another email address at his or her own risk. The College is not responsible for the handling of email by outside vendors or by departmental servers. Having email redirected does not absolve a community member from the responsibilities associated with official communications sent to his or her College email address.

All faculty, staff and students are expected to check their College email on a frequent and consistent basis in order to ensure that they are staying current with all official communications.

Official Use

  • Northern Virginia Community College electronic mail services are College resources which are intended to be used for instruction, instructional support, faculty advising, research, service, administration, and college-related correspondence in support of the College’s mission.
  • Northern Virginia Community College provides these electronic mail services to students, faculty, staff, and other authorized persons who are affiliated with the College for their use when engaging in activities related to their roles in the College.
  • Access to electronic mail is an essential tool that imposes on users certain accompanying responsibilities. The same standards of conduct that are expected of students, faculty, and staff regarding the use of other College facilities, services, and resources apply to the use of electronic mail.

Personal Use

College electronic mail services may be used for incidental personal purposes provided that such use:

  • Does not directly or indirectly interfere with the College operation of computing facilities or electronic mail services.
  • Does not interfere with the electronic mail user’s employment or other obligations to the College.
  • Does not violate this Policy, the College’s Acceptable Use policy or any other applicable policy or law, including but not limited to use for personal gain, conflict of interest, harassment, defamation, copyright violation or illegal activities (see Misuse below).
  • There should be no expectation of privacy in regard to electronic mail messages of a personal nature sent or received from College email accounts or from College computers.

Confidentiality and Security

  • Official email to registered students should only be sent to NVCC or VCCS student email addresses. Email to a non-NVCC or non-VCCS student email address cannot contain any information protected under FERPA.
  • Faculty and staff must only use NVCC email for official email correspondence.
  • Email is subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • The College does not routinely monitor or screen electronic mail. However, the College has the right, consistent with this policy and applicable law, to access, review and release all electronic information that is transmitted over or stored in College Systems or facilities, whether or not such information is private in nature, and therefore, confidentiality or privacy of electronic mail cannot be guaranteed. Because of the nature of the medium, the need for authorized staff to maintain electronic mail systems, the College’s accountability as a public institution, situations involving the health or safety of people or property, violations of College codes of conduct, regulations, policies, or laws, other legal responsibilities or obligations of the College, or the locating of information required for College business. IT staff may review and disclose the content of email messages stored on College servers.
  • Employees who resign, retire or otherwise terminate employment will have their email accounts terminated according to the Account Deletion Policy. Such employees should be aware that their email accounts will be accessed by their supervisors in order to continue to conduct College operations after they leave. Supervisors seeking such access must send a written request to the Help Desk to obtain access to the account. The department will then have 30 calendar days to either forward or copy the work-related email out of the account. After 30 days the account will be disabled and all remaining email correspondence will be deleted. (See Account Deletion section for special exception for retirees and emeriti.)
  • Users should exercise extreme caution in using email to communicate confidential or sensitive matters, and should not assume that their electronic mail is private or confidential.
  • Users may not access, use, or disclose personal or confidential information in the College’s custody without appropriate authorization, and must take necessary precautions to protect the confidentiality of personal or confidential information in compliance with College policy and applicable law, regardless of whether the information is maintained on paper or whether it is found in electronic mail or other electronic records.
  • Electronic mail users and operators must follow sound professional practices in providing for the security of electronic mail records, data, applications programs, and systems programs to which they have access.
  • Users are responsible for safeguarding their identification (ID) codes and passwords, and for using them only as authorized. Each user is responsible for all electronic mail transactions made under the authorization of his or her ID.

Use of Email for Official Correspondence and/or File Storage

The College’s electronic communications system (email) is a message transmission system and therefore should not be used as a file storage or file management system. The email system should not be used to store documents or email messages that are the basis for official action, historical record, or truly official communication. Email should not be used for document retention purposes, even it is archived with the intent to save it. If a particular email needs to be saved for official document retention purposes, it should be printed or saved as a separate document.

  • The email system is not designed as an official document storage system. Using email as a document filing system means storing important documents on the College server along with tons of spam, casual messages, drafts, student assignments, and other inconsequential messages; and therefore, depending upon the circumstances, the stored email may or may not be retrievable.
  • Special steps do not need to be taken to “save” most email. Official communication, important documents, and important emails that are must be saved should be printed and stored in appropriate paper files or stored as documents and backed up on the College’s server (typically on the “H” drive). Email can be converted and saved as a separate document (click File>Save As>HTML) or saved as a pdf file if that software is loaded on the computer.
  • Attachments need to be saved separately.


  • Using electronic mail for illegal activities is strictly prohibited. Illegal use includes, but is not limited to: obscenity; child pornography; threats, harassment; theft; attempting unauthorized access to data or attempting to breach any security measures on any electronic communications system; attempting to intercept any electronic communication transmission without proper authority; and violation of copyright, trademark or defamation law.
  • In addition to illegal activities, the following electronic mail practices are expressly prohibited: entry, examination, use, transfer, and tampering with the accounts and files of others, unless appropriately authorized pursuant to this policy; altering electronic mail system software or hardware configurations; or interfering with the work of others or with College or other computing facilities.
  • College electronic mail services may not be used for non-college commercial activities, personal financial gain, non-approved charitable activities, or for the advancement of any political agenda.
  • Electronic mail users shall not give the impression that they are representing, giving opinions, or otherwise making statements on behalf of the College or any unit of the College unless expressly authorized to do so.
  • College email services may not be used for purposes that could reasonably be expected to cause, (directly or indirectly) strain on any computing facilities, or interference with others’ use of electronic mail or electronic mail systems. Such uses include, but are not limited to, the use of electronic mail services to:
    • Send or forward chain letters. These emails often contain warnings that may very well be hoaxes. Use appropriate websites, like http://www.snopes.com/, to validate the myths and warnings.
    • "Spam” – that is, to exploit listservs or similar systems for the widespread distribution of unsolicited mail.
    • "Letter-bomb” – that is, to resend the same email repeatedly to one or more recipients.
    • Knowingly send or transmit computer viruses

Policy on Mass Emailing

Mass email messages are a useful and convenient way of informing the campus community. However, their potential for unnecessarily consuming resources and cluttering campus inboxes require that senders of such messages adhere to some guidelines. As such, mass emails must be approved or sent by authorized users only. A mass emailing is an unsolicited email message sent to a group of otherwise unrelated campus email addresses. For example, sending a message to all faculty or all students would be considered a mass emailing. Whether such messages are sent by using a personally constructed list of addresses or a system-generated list, such as Staff@nvcc.edu, makes no difference in the effect or applicability of this policy. Sending a message to members of a club or a group of friends does not constitute a mass emailing. Sending messages to groups, committees, or divisions also does not constitute a mass emailing.

There are four basic types of college-wide and campus email distribution lists:

  • All Faculty and Staff, All Teaching Faculty, All Adjunct Faculty, etc.
  • All NVCC Students
  • All Faculty and Staff at a particular campus
  • All Students taking courses at a particular campus

Use of College-wide and Campus Email Distribution Lists

College email is only for official college business. Use of College-wide email distribution lists should be used for information important to all members of the college community. 

  • Email primarily of interest to a particular campus should use the individual Campus distribution list.
  • Announcements of fitness center schedules, art shows, music performances, etc. should be sent to the individual Campus email distribution list, or it would be more appropriate to post it to a campus or College NEWS or EVENTS website.
  • If distribution on other campuses is desired, the request should be sent to the Provost or designee of the other campus(es) who will decide whether or not to send it to their Campus list.
  • Faculty, staff, and student Email distribution lists are not made available to outside organizations other than as specified by legal or policy requirements. Emails from such groups may be sent to an NVCC or VCCS distribution list by an appropriate NVCC representative.
  • Mass emails to students with information about new courses or programs should only be sent to student email lists with prior approval of the Provost or designee and only once or twice a semester. The list should only provide a list of the new courses and programs with links to the appropriate Web site(s) for more information.
  • Campuses that want to promote new courses or programs to students from another campus must send the email to the Provost or designee at the other campus for distribution.
  • The Office of Academic and Student Services may send an email to all students once each semester with a college-wide listing of new courses and programs.
  • Individual faculty can send information about new courses and programs to students enrolled in their classes as they deem appropriate without prior approval.

Access to College-Wide Email Distribution Lists

The following individuals have access to the use of College-wide Email distribution lists:

  • Members of Administrative Council
  • Associate Vice Presidents
  • Director of Human Resources
  • Director of IT Professional Services
  • Director of Grants Development
  • Public Information Officer
  • The IT Help Desk
  • Administrative Assistants to the President and Vice Presidents

Members of Administrative Council may approve permanent or temporary access to a College-wide Email Distribution List for another faculty or staff member by notifying the IT Help Desk by email or memo. The IT Help Desk will notify IT Engineers to set the appropriate access. Giving temporary access for someone to use a College-wide email distribution list will allow email replies to go directly to that individual.

Access to an Individual Campus-wide Email Distribution List

Each Provost and the Director of ELI can determine who will have access to their Campus faculty/staff and student Email distribution lists. They may control access to the Campus Email distribution lists by notifying the IT Help Desk. The IT Help Desk will notify IT Engineers to set the appropriate access.

The following individuals will also have access to the Campus Email distribution lists:

  • Members of Administrative Council
  • Associate Vice Presidents
  • Director of Human Resources
  • Director of IT Professional Services
  • Public Information Officer
  • The IT Help Desk
  • Administrative Assistants to the President and Vice Presidents

Separate access can be granted for the Campus faculty/staff and student lists. Unless the Provost or Director of Eli specifies otherwise, the default access for both Campus Email distribution lists will be the Provost and Provost Staff for that particular campus. The Provost or Director of ELI can request access changes or request temporary access for an individual at any time. Giving temporary access for someone to use a College-wide email distribution list will allow email replies to go directly to that individual.

Sending Attachments to Students Through Distribution Lists

VCCS student email distribution lists do not allow the use of attachments or excessively large emails that include graphics or special features. Instead of attachments or embedded graphics, the extra material should be placed on a web page with the link included in the email.

Other Applicable Policies

  • NVCC IT Acceptable Use Policy
  • NVCC Computer Use Agreement
  • NVCC Information Technology Employee Ethics Agreement
  • VCCS Information Technology Acceptable Use Guideline
  • VCCS Information Technology Student/Patron Ethics Agreement
  • VCCS Student Email Account Guidelines
  • Freedom of Information Act


Suspected or known violations of policy or law should be reported to the appropriate supervisory level for the operational unit in which the violation occurs. Alleged violations will be evaluated by the appropriate College authorities and/or law enforcement agencies. Violations may result in various actions, including but not limited to academic dishonesty or Code of Conduct proceedings, faculty, staff or student disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, referral to law enforcement agencies; or other legal action.

Electronic Mail System Procedures

NVCC IT User Access Account Policy

Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) provides user accounts for all faculty, staff, adjuncts and part-time employees of the college. Accounts issued to users are for college use only and may be audited for misuse.

Access to network resources (i.e., email, LAN, NovaConnect, Blackboard,) will be granted after proper paperwork has been submitted and approved. Each user will be issued his/her own account to access network resources. User accounts may not be shared. Users will be responsible for maintaining a strong password (see Password Policy) on their account to prevent possible misuse of their account.

Account Creation

  • All users requesting an account on the NVCC network will complete form “NVCC 105-45, Computer Access Request Form” prior to receiving their account, usually at the time of employment.

Retiree Email

  • All NOVA retirees may keep their college email account indefinitely provided that they complete the annual security awareness training and adhere to the Acceptable Use Agreement and college email policies. Violations of the Acceptable Use Agreement or college email policies may result in permanent loss of college email privileges. Inclusion on distribution lists is subject to the discretion of the list owner.

Account Deletion

IT Security will be notified by the Human Resources (HR) System when users leave the college. If IT Security has not received this list by the 1st of the month, a reminder email will be sent to HR requesting this information. Payroll will regularly provide ITSS a list of the most current employees on the payroll, including full and part time faculty and staff.

  • User accounts, whose names are provided by Human Resources, will be disabled for 30 days prior to deleting the LAN, email and web accounts.
  • User accounts, whose names are not on the most current payroll, will be disabled for 30 days prior to deleting the LAN, email and web accounts.
  • IT accounts for P-14 employees who miss one pay period will have their accounts locked. When a P-14 employee whose IT account has been locked returns to work, any administrator can request the account be unlocked by sending an email from their College email account to the IT Help Desk. Accounts can only be unlocked via email, telephone requests are not sufficient. The request to unlock an account should include the P-14 employee’s name, emplid, and return to work date. After an account has been in locked status for 9 months (approximately two registrations), access will be terminated and a new 105-45 will be required if the employee returns to work. Any administrator can request that a P-14 employee retain email and HR access while their other accounts are locked. This special access is requested by sending an email from the administrator’s College email account to the IT Help Desk. Accounts will be unlocked within one business day. Requests for expedited access can be made by phone to the IT Help Desk along with the required email request.

Account Maintenance

Routine account maintenance will be performed to remove disabled accounts and accounts that have not been used in the past year.

Account Updates (Titles, Department, Campus)

All employees transferring to a different job, department, and/or campus MUST submit form “NVCC 105-45, Computer Access Request Form” to retain their accounts and to adjust their access to College data. This includes, but is not limited to; faculty, staff, adjuncts and other part-time employees. Failure to submit the required paperwork is likely to result in the account (s) being disabled or deleted. Due to auditing requirements the updated and approved form must be received in the College computer security office.

  • The 105-45 must be filled out completely and signed by the user’s new supervisor and appropriate administrative council member. 105-45’s may be faxed to Technical Support Services (ITSS) after obtaining signatures, but the original signed form must be submitted in regular mail.

Account Updates (Name)

All users requesting name changes MUST first complete the name change process with Human Resources (check with HR for their current policy/requirements for name changes). After completing a name change with HR, users must submit form “NVCC 105-45, Computer Access Request Form” to update all NVCC accounts. This applies to any member of the faculty, staff, adjunct faculty part-time employees, contractors, or volunteers.

  • The 105-45 must be filled out completely and signed by the user’s supervisor and appropriate Administrative Council member, Campus Dean, Chairman or Coordinator.
  • 105-45’s may be faxed to Technical Support Services (ITSS) after obtaining signatures, but original must be submitted in regular mail.

Guidelines for Best Practice in Using Email

  • If students use non-VCCS student email, faculty and staff may respond to that address with general information such as where to find things on the College web site, how to register, the nature of a class assignment, important dates, etc. If personal information pertaining to the student is involved such as grades, feedback on assignments, official actions, or registration/payment details, VCCS student email must be used.
  • Use of wallpaper, colored backgrounds and graphics in email increases the email load and their use is not allowed.
  • The “Reply to all” option should ONLY be used when all addresses need to receive the information you are sending. It also is advisable to use careful language in communications that might be sent to unintended audiences.
  • Electronic space is a finite resource. Wise usage discourages perfunctory acknowledgement of messages (e.g. “Thank you.”) unless required to complete the communication.
  • Internet hoaxes: If you receive an invitation to make millions of dollars by helping somebody in another country, delete that message. If you are invited to update your personal information at your bank or for your credit card, delete that message and call your financial institution. If you are the recipient of fantastic information or warnings, also known as "Urban Legends," check out their validity. Do not forward such messages to others. If you receive a direct threat to yourself or to people or property at the College, contact campus police and the IT help desk.
  • When emailing to a large number of users, do not use large attachments (no attachments should be sent to students). Instead, the information should be put on the Web with a link to the page included in the email.
  • Set up the addresses correctly. For large mailings, don’t put a list name or list of addresses in the To: field. Instead, you should put your own email address in the To: and From: fields and place the list name or list of email addresses in the Bcc: field. Using this method keeps the list of recipients from being displayed with the email and keeps anyone replying to the email from sending his or her response to the entire list, creating more traffic than was originally intended.
  • Instead of creating long chains of back-and-forth emails, it is often better and quicker to use the phone for a real-time conversation.

While email is a good mechanism for short term communication, it is not instantaneous when sending to a large group. It can take several hours for a message to a large group to be delivered.


Administrative Council members, Deans, Directors and Department Heads are responsible for compliance with College policy within their respective administrative areas. Questions should be addressed to the Vice President of Instructional and Information Technology.