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In response to changes to the email landscape, ITS has been working behind the scenes to protect UNC-Chapel Hill’s email reputation. ITS has previously shared guidance and best practices for bulk email senders. These technical changes work in tandem with best practices to give UNC emails the best chance of reaching external audiences.

On February 1, Google and Yahoo began enacting major changes to mail deliverability to reduce spam. The changes combine technical requirements, like DMARC, and sender behaviors, like easy unsubscribe options. While everyone is in favor of less spam in their inboxes, the changes have far-reaching effects.

Because UNC is a large organization, these enhanced deliverability requirements affect every email from UNC to a Google or Yahoo account. Put simply, a few bad mailings could result in Google and Yahoo blocking every email from UNC, not just bulk mailings.

Protecting email reputation

Behind the scenes, ITS teams have worked for months to untangle decades of email settings at UNC. In addition to configuring DMARC on 160 UNC domains and subdomains, teams have identified technical changes that will further protect UNC’s email reputation.

An open envelope icon, revealing a trash can

Many of these changes limit the scope of potential damage by encouraging — or requiring — senders to use subdomains instead of top-level domains. Google and Yahoo are enforcing new spam limits from the top down and segmenting mailings by subdomains acts to protect the domain.

For example, if Google and Yahoo flag messages at the domain level (,,, and, they will also flag all subdomains. This means Google and/or Yahoo would reject all mail from the domain and subdomain levels.

However, if one UNC subdomain (like trips the threshold, only messages from that subdomain will be rejected. Messages from the domain or other UNC subdomains will not be affected.

Programmatically enforce listserv “from” address

Many groups on campus use listserv for both internal and external mailings. Listserv’s widespread use — and abuse — has caused email deliverability complaints for years.

In the past, ITS has recommended that people send listserv mailings using the listserv address instead of individual sender addresses. As of January 30, that recommendation is enforced automatically.

All listservs will now use an automatically created address based on the list name as the “from” address. An example of a generated “from” address and list name is <>.

Limit third-party mailing systems to subdomains

If you use a third-party bulk email service, like iContact, Mailchimp or SendGrid, you must send from a suitable subdomain.

You may no longer use a top-level domain to send bulk mail. UNC’s top-level domains are,,,, and

Your “from” address must be a subdomain, like or If you need a subdomain email address, contact ITS using the Help Portal or your departmental IT.

Restrict Qualtrics sending from top-level domains

Like other third-party bulk mailers, emails sent using Qualtrics must use a subdomain and not a top-level domain.

ITS will work with Qualtrics to remove the choice to send from top-level domains (,,,, and ITS has also removed the ability to send from unmaintained subdomains, including the subdomain.

Users can send from or a configured department subdomain. Senders can check if an email address is configured by entering it in the “from” field in the Qualtrics “distribution” tab. Qualtrics will display an “invalid domain” error if the address is not configured.

If you need a subdomain email address or need a subdomain configured in Qualtrics, contact ITS using the Help Portal or the Odum Institute.

Standardize Microsoft 365 Groups and Teams addresses

Previously, when Tar Heels created Microsoft 365 Groups and Teams, they could create an email address ending in

Now, all newly created Microsoft Groups and Teams have addresses.

Host and maintain email domains and subdomains

ITS Infrastructure & Operations’ Networking team hosts and monitors UNC’s email domains and subdomains. Moving forward, email domains routed by ITS must:

  • have SPF, DKIM and DMARC records set up and maintained;
  • be hosted in ITS Infrastructure & Operations’ DNS system.

This enables monitoring of UNC’s email deliverability, helps identify bad actors, and makes it easier for ITS to respond to new requirements from email providers.


Vendors are implementing more restrictions on internal mail relays. ITS cannot support routing mail from external sources through For IT groups that send mail through, ITS recommends using an email address that exists, rather than an email address that does not.

ITS anticipates additional controls to UNC’s relay system and that anonymous sending will become even more difficult.

Evolving email landscape

These changes protect UNC’s email reputation and help ensure that emails from UNC addresses reach external mailboxes. The tradeoff for senders is that strengthening these requirements may result in fewer customization options to “from” addresses.

While ITS is working diligently to ensure mailings reach recipients, you should anticipate there will be times when Google and/or Yahoo block email from UNC.

Note that as the central unit responsible for UNC’s email infrastructure, ITS may need to reject or change email addresses to support the mail platform’s operation. A campus committee is drafting new policies and standards around UNC subdomains, email addresses and aliases to help ensure deliverability. ITS will share additional guidance as the email landscape evolves.

If you have questions about email delivery or need a subdomain email address for bulk sending, contact ITS using the Help Portal or your departmental IT.

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