Like Jennifer Garner (, but a little less threatening.

Like Jennifer Garner (, but a little less threatening.

CUIT emailed Morningside campus students today with information about our new email aliases. CUIT says that they “heard and understood” the concern that “UNI-based email addresses are impersonal and can seem unprofessional in certain contexts.”

For all returning students and incoming freshmen, the aliases will take the form of “<Initials of First and Middle + Last Name><UNI#>” (emphasis CUIT’s). So, for example, CUIT tried other methods that would have made the aliases seem more personal/professional but found that there were too many “collisions,” or combinations that, with the UNI removed, would be exact matches. 

Disclaimer: You can use your alias for email and communication purposes (email will automatically be forwarded to your LionMail) but don’t forget your UNI just yet—you’ll need it to log in to LionMail and every other University log-on, including printing. 

Dear Morningside Students,

We are pleased to share that, in response to feedback from many of you, we have built and enabled for each of you a new, more user-friendly email alias, an alternate address that automatically forwards to your UNI-based email.

Recent conversations with student leadership and advisory groups indicated that UNI-based email addresses are impersonal and can seem unprofessional in certain contexts. We heard and understood this concern.

Considering the size of the University and the fact that alumni keep email addresses for life, we needed a system that would ensure unique aliases. With this in mind, we used the following method to generate your new alias:

  • For every current and incoming student, a friendly email address is being created from each student’s name as stored in CU’s Student Information System.

  • To limit the possibility of collisions, email aliases are constructed as:

<Initials of First and Middle + Last Name><UNI#>

For example, the UNI “smc20” translates to “”

We considered several other formats, but each posed significant problems:

  • Why not <first initial><last name>?

  • UNIs zz2321 and zz2257 -> zzhuang

  • 8866 collisions out of 40,000 student UNIs

  • Why not <first initial><last name><GradYear>?

    • UNIs aa3443 and aa3311 -> aarora2014

    • 4009 collisions out of 40,000 student UNIs

  • Why not <first initial><last name><UNI#>?

    • UNIs acg2169 and aag2169 -> agonzalez2169

    • 67 collisions out of 40,000 student UNIs

We shared our recommendation on the address format with student leaders, and having received positive feedback, we proceeded with the development of this service.

Using Your New Alias

The recent assignments of student aliases were accompanied by an automated email notification with the subject, “We have created an email alias that reflects your name.”

  • You may choose to display this identity in the University directory instead of your UNI-based email address by going to and clicking on “Student Email Alias.”

  • There is no impact to the continued use of your UNI-based email address.  All existing distribution lists, processes and emails will continue to work as they do today.

  • You may now send and receive mail from either or both addresses:

  • The UNI is still the only ID used to log in to services, including email. The new friendlier email alias will not work as a login ID.

  • We unfortunately cannot accept requests to alter the format of this email address, unless you request from the University Registrar a name change that would result in a different student email alias. See

Again, we are pleased to be able to provide this new feature. If you have any questions, please write to us at


Candace Fleming
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Columbia University Information Technology

Medha Bhalodkar

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