News at Mason
Renovated mailroom and delivery systems reflect changing nature of student mail
October 30, 2017 / by Buzz McClain
A $300,000 top-to-bottom overhaul of the first-class mail and package delivery system at George Mason University’s Mail Services reflects the changing nature of how and what students receive in their personal mail.
Gone are personal mailboxes that, to the exasperation of university mail service administrators, were invariably jammed up with unopened “junk mail” each semester. Those first-class mailboxes are now space-saving hanging folders—7,000 of them, with room to grow—behind the pickup counter on the bottom floor of the Hub on the Fairfax Campus.
Also gone are the long lines of students waiting to retrieve their packages from the front counter. Now when a package is received and recorded in the mailroom, the student is sent a text with a single-use, four-digit code that opens an assigned locker in the Hub mailroom.
There are 680 new lockers that are accessible until 10 p.m. daily, vastly expanding the time students have to pick up their items. Previously, the mailroom pickup counter closed at 5 p.m. But students have to get their packages from the lockers within 72 hours before they are removed and stored behind the counter, necessitating a wait for a clerk to retrieve them.
Included in the renovation is a new mail sorting machine that is capable of sorting 10,000 to 14,000 pieces of first-class mail—often George Mason’s daily total—in an hour. The 38-foot-long, 28-bin Tritek sorter automates what had been a labor-intensive manual operation. The new machine saves 40 man-hours a week, said Adam Forte, the site manager for Canon, the vendor responsible for campus mail, managed print and the Print Hub.
The modifications in the mailroom—which include new flooring and reconfigured walls—are a response to the changing nature of student mail, said Buz Grover, associate director of contracts and special projects at Mason. The number of boxes from delivery services such as Amazon Prime continues to climb, he said, a trend not likely to reverse anytime soon. In fact, this semester has seen the number of packages double from the same time last year.
Grover would like to eventually install satellite mailrooms with lockers in residence halls and other locations to reduce student travel time to the Hub.
When the mailroom renovation is complete next year, the facility will also house the Fairfax Campus Print Services office, now located at the Johnson Center.