UMass Extension faculty and staff maintain many mailing lists for the purposes of emailed and mailed communications. Some of these lists exist for “one-way” communication only, i.e. we send things out to a group of people; some of these lists (usually E-mail lists) exist for interactive communication between members of the list, i.e. we do not necessarily control the content of the communications, only the list of recipients.
Appropriate management of these lists is important to our organization for several reasons. For one, these are valuable assets that must be maintained and protected. For another, we have a responsibility to those people about whom we have collected information to protect that information and appropriately steward its use. As a public organization, we have two other important responsibilities vis-à-vis our mailing lists. One is to ensure that our mailing lists are used for purposes appropriate to a publicly-funded organization (and not used for purposes that are not). The second is to insure that membership on our mailing lists is made available and proactively offered to all those who might find it of interest, regardless of prior history or particular factors about them. As a USDA cooperating organization, Extension also has responsibility to ensure lists are created and updated with the intent of providing equal access to our information by the appropriate inclusion of racial/ethnic minorities, members of both sexes and the disabled.
Internal lists and external lists
We maintain internal mailing lists, lists of ourselves, which we use to send email and paper materials on a regular basis. We also maintain external lists, lists containing information about people not employed by UMass Extension: stakeholders, volunteers, participants, customers and others. Organizationally, we have expectations of proper use and maintenance of both types of lists and this policy addresses both. Expectations of the internal lists concern ways such lists can and should be used and appropriate behavior concerning the information while those of the external lists are more far-reaching and include both equal access issues as well as ownership issues.
Expectations of list membership
All participants (both employees and non-employees) who are on a UMass Extension mailing list – whether electronic or conventional – are expected to observe common customs of polite communication. This includes forbearance from use of profanity, avoidance of insulting other individuals or groups, avoidance of expressions of extreme emotion including anger, frustration or dislike. Further, list members are asked to behave in such a way as not to inflame problematic situations when they do arise, avoiding forwarding expressions of extreme emotion or furthering them in any way. The Director of UMass Extension always has the right to remove any member of a list who does not observe these expectations.
All mailing lists developed by UMass Extension faculty and staff in the course of their employment responsibilities are reserved solely for use in furthering the professional and educational goals of UMass Extension and its programs. Lists may not be used for personal purposes or to express personal opinions unrelated to the Extension-related work at hand
List members are expected to avoid communications that may be interpreted as inappropriate to a public organization or workplace, including expressions of religious belief, political commitment and non-University business.
All communications utilizing UMass Extension lists, especially those that are intended for external groups, should reflect high quality standards in their composition, editorial nature and choice of subject matter.
Extension faculty and staff are not permitted to create or maintain lists for other organizations or in any way use the mailing lists of other organizations for the purposes of avoiding any of the policies governing use of UMass Extension lists.
Members of UMass Extension email lists are expected to abide by UMass Amherst’s Email Distribution List Policy, promulgated by the Office of Information Technologies at http://www.umass.edu/it/policies/it-policy-email-distribution-lists.
Reflecting Extension’s responsibility to continually provide access, local input and information about Extension programs and employment opportunities to racial/ethnic minorities, the disabled, and members of both sexes, Extension faculty and staff are expected to contact the UMass Extension list administrator periodically with recommended additions to the list of individuals and organizations across the state. This will increase access to racial or ethnic minorities through civic, professional, or disability groups. The list administrator will forward such contacts to the List Administrator. Approval and incorporation of such additions remains the prerogative of the List Administrator.
Any use of Extension lists by Extension faculty and staff to conduct commercial transactions must be governed by all applicable UMass Extension and University of Massachusetts Amherst policies, protocols and regulations. Non-employees are not permitted use of Extension mailing lists to initiate commercial transactions on their own behalf.
The ‘owner’ or manager of an email or conventional mailing list is expected to be a member of the list, receive and read all communications sent to the list and regularly monitor use of the list for appropriate conduct. The manager is expected to communicate with the Director of UMass Extension regarding inappropriate conduct by list members and coordinate an appropriate response. The manager should maintain an archive of all messages sent to the list.
Access to information
The responsibilities of Extension staff who develop or manage mailing lists regarding the rights of access to that list are quite different depending on whether the list is an internal list (composed of UMass Extension faculty/staff) or whether the list is an external list (composed of non-employees or a mixture of employees and non-employees).
If the list is an internal one, common sense rules of workplace protocol and fairness apply and may differ from program unit to program unit.
If the list is an external one, then a much more pronounced responsibility devolves to the list ‘owner’ to insure that all those with a potential interest in the subject matter have an opportunity to participate as a member of the list. This includes both reactive inclusion of all those who request such as well as proactive efforts to include interested parties who may not be traditionally served or communicated with by UMass Extension.
Notification and Reminders of Policies
A statement of list policies must be given to every new member of a UMass Extension mailing list, whether the member is an employee or non-employee and whether the list is internal or external. A sample statement appears as an appendix to this policy.
List policies should be reiterated to all members of the list at least once every six months.
Printed or emailed newsletters, bulletins or other regular one-way communication utilizing a UMass Extension mailing list as a distribution mechanism should include Extension’s standard statement of access, equal opportunity and cooperating relationship.
Confidentiality of participation on list
Name, address and other information contained on mailing lists – both for electronic and conventional mail – is the confidential proprietary information of UMass Extension and may not be shared with non-employees of UMass Extension without the express permission of the Director. This includes all information on those lists, including membership on email lists. While information from lists may be shared internally between Extension faculty/staff, this should be done so with discretion.
Sharing of lists
Mailing lists may not be shared, loaned or given to non-employees of UMass Extension without the express permission of the Director. This includes actual lists (on paper or electronic format) or the information therein.
Method of sharing
If lists are shared (with permission of Director, see above), they should be done so in such a way to limit their use to the specific purpose for which permission has been granted. For example, when mailing lists are to be used for conventional mailing, addresses should be provided on labels rather than in electronic format, if permission has only been granted for limited use.
Sample statement of email list expectations
On behalf of the UMass Extension XXXXXX Program, welcome to the XXXXXX Program email list. You can use this list to send email to all of the faculty and staff members who are connected to the XXXXXX Program.
To send a message to all faculty and staff in XXXXXX (name of Extension Program), simply address an email to
When you reply to an email that you received as a member of the list, remember that your automatic-reply feature in your email software will most likely send the reply to the whole list. If you want to send your reply only to the sender of the original message, be sure to address your reply only to that person.
- Due to spam, Extension staff can't post to a list unless you are a member of that list. If you have any questions, contact list administrator Bethany Desbien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please be aware that UMass Extension has developed certain general expectations of the users of this list. The list is also governed by University and USDA/NIFA regulations. These expectations and regulations include:
- maintenance of a civil tone and attitude within all communications;
- use of this list only for purposes that are work-related;
- avoidance of communications that may be interpreted as inappropriate to a public organization or workplace, including expressions of religious belief, political commitment and non-University business;
- prohibition on use of this list by non-employees of UMass Amherst to initiate commercial transactions.
The list administrator reserves the right to remove any person from this list who does not use it in the spirit outlined in this message.
A message similar to this one will be sent to persons newly added to the list. Periodic messages will be sent by the list administrator reiterating basic assumptions about use of this list.
Full UMass Extension Non-Discrimination Statement: (To be used in full on all materials produced by UMass Extension for public information, education or distribution.)
UMass Extension provides equal access to its programs for all persons and is an equal opportunity provider and employer, United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. It is the policy of UMass Extension to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination and to prohibit discrimination and harassment against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and veteran, marital or family status. Harassment of Extension program participants, faculty, staff or students will not be tolerated.
UMass Extension encourages individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing special accommodations, have questions about the physical access provided, or require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, English as a Second Language materials; etc.), please contact your local Extension office before your visit.
If you want to express concerns about discrimination, contact the Center for Agriculture Director’s Office at 413-545-4800 or write to: Center for Agriculture, Stockbridge Hall, 80 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003. For university, state or USDA agency contact information, see Civil Rights Information & Resources
Short UMass Extension Non-Discrimination Statement: (To be used where space is very limited (e.g. small brochures, business cards, web e-mail trailers, in a font size no smaller than the text.)
UMass Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer, United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Contact your local Extension office for information on disability accommodations. Contact the Center for Agriculture Director’s Office if you have concerns related to discrimination, 413-545-4800 or see Civil Rights Information & Resources