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Faculty & Staff Email & Messaging

The Old Dominion University email system is the official electronic mail system for distributing course-related communications, policies, announcements and other information. Most campus faculty/staff email accounts are stored in the cloud as part of Office 365. (If your mailbox is one of the very few email accounts still stored on an Exchange server on site, your email will behave a little differently than what's outlined below. This guide has more information.)

 Activating and Accessing Your Email Account

In order to receive an ODU faculty/staff email acccount, fill out the Universal Account Request Form on this page, and have it signed by your Budget Unit Director.

On most University-managed computers, you'll use Outlook to check and manage your email, but you can access your email from some other email applications or online at outlook.odu.edu. Log in with your full faculty/staff email address (xxx@odu.edu) and your MIDAS password. (See our Email User Guides for information about setting up your email on various platforms.)

 Anti-Spam Filters

All incoming and outgoing mail is filtered through Microsoft Exchange Online Protection, which catches and stops a majority of spam and malware. In most cases, spam will end up in your junk email folder instead of your Inbox. You can manage your spam and junk mail settings from directly within Microsoft Outlook or online at outlook.odu.edu. Settings that you change in either place will apply to all incoming email, regardless of which application you use to read and respond to your email messages.

Spam Settings in Outlook
Incoming mail that Microsoft believes to be spam will be routed to your Junk Email folder. You can set your spam preferences in Outlook by clicking on the "Junk" button and selecting "Junk E-mail Options." Here, you can select the level of junk mail protection you prefer. You can also create a list of safe senders that will never get sent to your Junk folder, and a list of blocked senders that will always go straight to Junk.

Spam Settings in Outlook for Mac
Incoming mail that Microsoft believes to be spam will be routed to your Junk Email folder. Outlook for Mac allows you to add an email address to your Blocked Senders list, or mark an individual message as junk, but in order to actually manage your junk mail settings, you need to log in to Outlook online (see below).

Spam Settings in Outlook Online
You can change your junk email settings online by adding addresses and domains to your lists of blocked senders or safe senders. Go to outlook.odu.edu and follow the instructions provided in this article from Microsoft:

Quarantined Mail
Outlook attempts to filter out junk, keeping the Inbox clear of content you don't want to see. Usually, junk mail (advertisements, contests, spam, social marketing, etc.) is delivered to the Junk Email folder. Quarantined emails usually contain potentially dangerous or unwanted messages, such as phishing emails or malware. You can request the release of quarantined messages, but use caution. These messages are usually quarantined for a very good reason.

 Safe Links and Attachments

Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is an added layer of security that protects ODU's computers and networks from outside threats. There are two components to Microsoft ATP that will protect against phishing attempts and malicious email attachments: Safe Links and Safe Attachments.

Safe Links

Safe Links evaluates all links in an email message to determine if they point to safe or harmful content. To do this, ATP replaces all links in incoming messages with longer URLs that begin with "https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com," similar to this.

When you click on the link, ATP evaluates the web address. If it's safe, you'll be taken directly to the intended site. If the link is NOT safe, you'll be blocked from the site with a warning message like this.

(While Safe Links greatly improves email security, nothing is 100% effective 100% of the time. If you've followed a link that takes you to a login page of any kind, double check to be sure the page is secure. Learn more about what a secure page looks like here.)

Safe Attachments

Safe Attachments protects against harmful email attachments. Before a message is delivered, ATP opens all attachments in a virtual environment and analyzes them for malicious content. If the attachment is safe, it will be delivered to you along with the original email message. If the attachment is harmful, you'll never receive the message; you will receive an email letting you know that an email with malicious content was blocked. This process does cause a brief delay (a couple of minutes) in the delivery of messages.

Although this service improves email security, you remain our best defense against online threats. Continue to exercise the safe computing practices found at odu.edu/safecomputing.

 Email Retention

In Office 365, email retention is managed with retention tags. You can tag some messages to stay in your mailbox permanently, and you can tag other messages to be deleted after a set amount of time. You can also set retention tags on entire folders, so when you copy messages to a folder with a two-year retention tag, for example, each message will automatically be deleted in two years. Emails in your Inbox that are not tagged or moved to a tagged folder will be automatically deleted after 1 year. Emails in your Sent Items folder are deleted after 2 years. If you need to retain email longer than that, you must tag it or move it to a tagged folder. Please see "ODU Email Retention Guidelines" for details.

Using retention tags in Outlook 365

Using retention tags in Outlook Web App

Video: Using retention tags at ODU

 Email Sending Limitations

There are a few limits to how much email you can send out at once. Most people will never hit these limits, but if you have questions, you can contact the ITS Help Desk.

  • You may send a maximum of 10,000 emails in a single day.
  • You may send a maximum of 30 emails per minute.
  • You may send a single email message to a maximum of 500 recipients. (Note: A system-managed distribution list is considered 1 recipient.)
  • Distribution lists with greater than 5,000 addresses must be moderated, meaning an approver must affirmatively approve a mailing before sending.

 Email Signatures

Your email signature represents the university and should reflect the professionalism and dignity of a Monarch. All employees must include contact information in their @odu.edu email signature, including an office phone number.

 External Email Warning

Attackers have become more sophisticated in their phishing attacks, selecting people familiar to us and creating email accounts like <familiar name>.odu@gmail.com. They research our website to find the names of our co-workers and send emails that appear to come from people we know and trust.

These emails may ask for credentials or a personal phone number. They may seem urgent or contain links to malicious files disguised as something familiar. And because we recognize the name, we may comply. Since the emails don't actually contain malware, it's difficult to systemically detect them as scams.

So we've added the following notice to the top of every email that comes in from outside of ODU's email system:

External email warning

This doesn't necessarily mean the message is malicious or even unwelcome. We are simply asking that you pause and think before interacting with messages from outside sources. Verify that the sender is who you expect them to be before responding.

 Restricted Business Information Policy Tips

We have enabled a tool that detects character strings that might contain personally identifying information. If you attempt to send an email and Outlook detects numbers arranged in the format of a social security number, for example, a warning will pop up asking if you're sure you want to send the message.

Email is not a secure method of data transmission. You can find more information about securely collecting, storing, and sharing restricted, sensitive, business information here.

Note: This policy is currently applied to select departments, but will be rolling out soon university-wide.

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