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Distribution/Group Lists



Email distribution lists, also known as mailing lists, listservs or discussion lists, allow people with common interests to easily share information and participate in discussions by using a dedicated email address. For more information about distribution lists, see the Email Discussion Lists page.

KU IT offers two list serving methods: KU Group Lists and Mailman. Carefully review the differences between the services to determine which option best suits your needs.

KU Group Lists

KU Group Lists (Microsoft Exchange Distribution Lists) are housed on one of the university's Exchange servers. Exchange also handles university email. By creating a KU Group List on this server you can link multiple addresses to one simplified address or list of addresses. This list can be used for other purposes including group calendars and assigning rights to folders. Only KU users with a KU Online ID can be included in a KU Group List.

Features of KU Group Lists

Features of Course Group Lists

  • Instructors of Record can create course-related KU Group Lists by visiting KU Group Management and selecting "Add New Course Group" from the top menu.
  • When creating a new Course Group, all enrolled students for the selected course will automatically be added as members of the Course Group.
  • You can choose who can send email to your Course Group (i.e., closed, instructor only or special). Help information on the Course Group request page explains each of these options.
  • You can add or exclude additional members for the Course Group. This gives you the flexibility to tailor your Course Group’s membership as needed. For example, you can add a GTA as a group member.
  • You can preview group members to determine who is actually a member before updating the Course Group.
  • You can view your Course KU Group Lists, by accessing the My Groups functionality.
  • Course KU Group Lists will continue to automatically expire after the semester ends.

Features of Non-course KU Group Lists

  • To request a Non-Course Related KU Group List, please complete the New KU Group List request form.
  • You will need to request any changes to your non-course and course-related KU Group Lists by emailing
  • One of the features is that contacts will be collected for each KU Group List for renewal purposes. Please see the definition below in the KU Group List Glossary.
  • New functionality will be coming soon to allow for more end user maintenance of existing KU Group Lists.

KU Group List Glossary

Authorized Sender If a group has an Authorized Sender(s), then only email sent from an Authorized Sender’s email address will be sent to the IDM group.
Group Maintainer The Group Maintainer is responsible for determining who should or should not be a group member.
Group Moderator In most cases, a Group Moderator is not needed. If there is an assigned Group Moderator(s) for a group, then all email sent to the group will go to the Group Moderator first. The Group Moderator will have the ability to approve the email to be distributed to all Group Members. A user will need to use their KULC Exchange mailbox in order to act as a Group Moderator. Users with only an AD contact object (e.g. a email address) will not be able to act as a Group Moderator.
Group Viewer An assigned Group Viewer can view the membership of the group – even if the membership of the group is Hidden.
Hidden This refers to a group’s membership. If a group’s membership is hidden, this means that users of the group will not be able to determine who is a member of the group. The exception is the Group Maintainer and Group Viewer who will be able to see the group members of a hidden membership group. If a group could be used to determine if a student is in a particular class, major, school etc, then the group needs to have hidden membership.
Listed/Unlisted This refers to a mail-enabled group being displayed in the Global Address List. If a group is listed, this means that the group can be found in the Global Address List. If a group is unlisted, then the group will not be displayed in the Global Address List.
Primary Contact The Primary Contact for a group will be used as the first person to contact if a question or problem occurs with a group. The Primary Contact is required so that IT will be able to determine who to contact. The Primary Contact and Group Maintainer can be the same person.
Secondary Contact The Secondary Contact for a group will be used as the second person to contact if a question or problem occurs with a group. The Secondary Contact is required so that IT will be able to determine who to contact if a Primary Contact is not available to answer questions or make decisions for a group.

Mailman Mailing Lists

Mailman is an email distribution list service that allows KU faculty and staff to create mailing lists that include external subscribers. Mailman offers a convenient, web-based interface for list owners to configure their lists, manage subscription settings, approve messages if a list is moderated, and more. List subscribers also can manage their individual preferences through a similar web-based interface.


KU Group List Mailman Mailing List
Only uses KU email addresses Can use any email address
Only for official KU departments, classes and organizations For other informal groups on campus and groups involving non-KU email addresses
Automatic creation and subscription User/Owner creation and subscription
Enhanced capabilities with Outlook Stand-alone system, no functionality with Outlook

Which Option is Best for You?

Do you want the list membership to be maintained from Human Resources and Student Records data, without any manual input? Yes = KU Group List

Do all list participants have a KU email address? Yes = KU Group List

Do you want list members to be able to subscribe and remove themselves from the list? Yes = Mailman

Will your list contain members who are not directly affiliated with KU? Yes = Mailman

Are you requesting a list for use by an informal group, club, or some other organization which is not recognized by KU in any official capacity? Yes = Mailman

Creation and Subscription Methods

The list creation process - For any KU Group List, there is the ability to have a nightly program manage the membership of the list. This removes the need for anyone to do any maintenance of the list. Once created, it maintains itself, and the list owners can always be assured that it contains the right people. For departments and classes, this is a big advantage for KU Group Lists. However, the automatic nature of the lists, by centralizing the control of the membership, makes manual upkeep more difficult than Mailman. Any user who wants to be a part of an existing list would first have to Go Through Channels.

For any list on the Mailman system, the membership configurations are very flexible. Control over list membership can easily be handed over to designated people, thus decentralizing control of the list and putting it in the hands of the list owners, or even opening up the list for self-subscription. In such a list, any person who wants to join a list can do so by subscribing online (or, sending a subscribe request for closed lists). Thus, for informal discussion, hobby, and interest groups, Mailman is the best choice.

Enhanced Abilities

KU Group Lists offers enhanced capabilities with Outlook (both Mac and PC) Advantage: If the vast majority of the list members have Exchange accounts, they will be able to take advantage of the other ways which KU Group Lists can be used from within Outlook, including Calendaring features. Disadvantage: Any members of the list with non-Exchange registered email addresses will miss out on all the KU Group List usage, and can only make use of the list's email capabilities.

Allowed E-mail Addresses

KU Group Lists can only consist of Exchange Address Book entries. Any object in the Global Address Book, including resources like conference rooms, is eligible for KU Group List membership. However, ONLY objects listed in the Global Address Book are eligible. To include anyone outside the university on a mailing list, that list must use the Mailman service.

Types of Groups Supported

KU Group Lists can only be made for departments, classes, and officially approved and recognized university organizations. If a new club on campus wants to set up an email list for announcements and discussion, that list must be created using the Mailman service, rather than KU Group Lists. If the club were to reach official status, they could, upon receiving approval from the appropriate channels, request an KU Group List. For most faculty and staff requesting lists for university-related purposes, this is not an issue. For lists of any sort created on Mailman, this is never an issue.

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