Case Studies: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Situated in the heart of Western Europe, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven has been a center of knowledge for almost six centuries. Founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V, the K.U. Leuven bears the honor of being the oldest Catholic university still in existence and the oldest university in the Low Countries of Europe.

"Email and mailing lists are the primary means of communication here. One of the main benefits of LISTSERV is that it has enough features to protect lists against any possible misuse or error such as loops, duplicate postings, spam, viruses or unauthorized senders."

At present, the K.U. Leuven caters to approximately 28,000 students, including many international students from more than one hundred nations. In terms of its personnel, there are almost 5,000 members of the academic staff, and nearly 10,000 administrative, technical and medical staff members. On the academic side, the university is composed of 14 faculties, 50 departments and about 240 sub-departments. Its network of 30 auxiliary libraries now houses a total of 3 million volumes. K.U. Leuven supports five hospitals and three affiliated hospitals, with more than 2,000 hospital beds for the acutely ill.

"In 1987 I started working at the university as an IBM VM system engineer," Herman Van Uytven said. "After one month of studying manuals and exploring the system I went to my boss and told him I was ready to do some real work. He instructed me to install a new version of LISTSERV email list management software. After some checking I sent Eric Thomas [developer of LISTSERV and L-Soft's CEO] an email requesting an upgrade. Thirty minutes later I got an email back saying that the upgrade was complete. I thought, nice and easy job I got here. We have run LISTSERV for more than 15 years, and we have never had problems with it."

The K.U. Leuven's network of LISTSERV lists contains close to 7,000 lists with almost 500,000 (non-unique) subscribers and averaging 10,000 postings each month. During the month of November 2003 the university had average daily traffic of more than 50,000 messages. When K.U. Leuven started with LISTSERV in 1986, the first lists were discussion lists, some of which are still active today. Later on the focus of mass communication by email moved to edited lists and newsletters. During the last few years the K.U. Leuven added many lists that are automatically maintained from the databases of students, personnel, alumni and others. For certain groups, such as all students in a study year or all members of a research team, the lists are automatically maintained using a simple script. Links to the lists are prevalent in the university's Web pages.

"Email and mailing lists are the primary means of communication here. One of the main benefits of LISTSERV is that it has enough features to protect lists against any possible misuse or error such as loops, duplicate postings, spam, viruses or unauthorized senders. Another advantage is that the maintenance of LISTSERV and our nearly 7,000 lists takes only five percent of a system administrator's time," Herman Van Uytven said.

Case study written in December 2003 with Herman Van Uytven, Manager of Intranet Development Team, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.




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