Mail Room Renovations Reduce Wait Times


By Sarah Wheeler, Staff Writer

You may have noticed something different about the mailroom this semester. With the lines of students waiting to pick up packages often wrapped around corners and up the stairs in the Hub, the mailroom needed a makeover to improve the package pickup experience for students. The school spent $300,000 on upgrades to Mail Services that completely transformed the space.

The new package retrieval system significantly reduced wait time even as the number of packages passing through Mason’s mailroom has increased rapidly in recent years. At the same time, the amount of regular letter mail has declined, according to site manager Adam Forte.

“On average, students get their mail three times a semester, they get packages two-to-three times a month – more during the start of the semester,” Forte explained. “Our new system has greatly reduced the lines and made things much more efficient.”

“On the student side, we flip-flopped the way mail and packages were handled,” said Forte. “It used to be that all mail (letter, flyers, magazines, etc.) were in mailboxes that students would open with a key or a combination. With that, all packages were held behind the counter for pickup.”

The 6,600 individual mailboxes were removed to make room for the 680 new student package lockers. These new lockers embrace modern technology to make the package pickup process a smooth and easy experience.

“Now packages are in lockers for self-retrieval and mail is behind the counter. The aim of this was to cut down on the line at the counter and the wait students had to get packages.”

When a package arrives in the mailroom, students receive an email with a unique code to open the storage locker. The lockers are available anytime the Hub is open, but students have 72 hours to pick up their packages using the one-time code in their email. After that time, packages are removed and stored behind the counter and students must wait in line to retrieve them from a clerk.

Letter mail has also seen a major upgrade with the shift from personal mailboxes to 7,000 hanging folders behind the counter. Other renovations to Mail Services included an automated sorting machine that can quickly process new mail that was formerly handled manually.

“For right now, we are always striving to improve our efficiency and raise the level of customer service we provide,” Forte added. “No major mailroom changes are planned for the foreseeable future. However, at the start of the spring semester, the Print Hub, currently in the Johnson Center, will be moved into the space adjacent to the mail room.”

Photo by Nic Macotto