Century-old date prompts Y2K concern for alumni

V. Paul Virtucio
Every November, Adam Platt, an associate editor for Mpls-St. Paul magazine, receives an e-mail notice to renew his Internet account with the University before the new year.
This year, he received a notice to renew his account before the end of the last century. The University Alumni Association sent Platt a notice Wednesday reading, “Your account is set to expire in January 1900. To renew …”
“I didn’t know what to think of it,” Platt said. “It was the first real-life manifestation for me of this Y2K problem.”
Platt was not the only one to receive the notice. The alumni association has received countless calls from people with the century-old expiration date, said Juanita Hernandez, a member-service representative. The calls started Monday, said Chris Smith, an alumni association spokesman.
“It’s just a display issue, not a data issue,” Hernandez said. “We are Y2K compliant. The problem has already been corrected.”
The way the error was committed harkened back to the last century when information was manually changed. Someone simply substituted “00” for “99” in the billing statement, not realizing it would read “1900.”
“It was totally not related to any system, to any computer or to any issue,” said Shih Pau Yen, director for Academic and Distributed Computing Services. “It’s totally a person’s error.”
The association’s e-mail accounts are maintained and tested by the University through its computer system, Smith said.
The association’s database and membership billing have been year 2000-compliant since 1990 when alumni officials switched to four-digit year entries, Smith said. The billing statements for the e-mail accounts are generated by the University, however.
“If the University is Y2K compliant, then we are Y2K compliant,” Smith said.

V. Paul Virtucio welcomes comments at [email protected]