Information Technology

Gimme 5: Transitioning UMass Lowell to Five-Digit Telephone Extensions

Five-digit campus phone extensions begin March 9, 2013

The Problem 

UMass Lowell has seen steady growth in its faculty, staff and student populations in recent years. In addition, two new residence halls and three new campus buildings will open in the next few years. This continued growth necessitates an expansion in our telecommunications systems. In short, we are running out of numbers in the 978-934 exchange. 

With the growth outlined above, we would exceed our current pool of approximately 600 unused numbers. There are no additional groups of numbers available from Verizon within our 978-934 exchange.

The Solution

In March of 2013, the first change will be to use five-digit on-campus extensions. By the summer of 2013, we will acquire and install a second exchange.

Phase 1

On March 9, 2013, current four-digit campus extensions will become five digits long. Everyone on campus must dial a "4" preceding an extension. Example: Extension 1234 becomes 4-1234


  • On-campus callers (all faculty, staff, auxiliary enterprises, students ): Start dialing five digits (4-xxxx) for all on-campus extensions. Check your personal and departmental literature and listings to ensure that on-campus extensions are listed with five digits.
  • Outside callers : No change. At this time, all faculty, staff, auxiliary enterprises and students stay on the 978-934 exchange. Your outside phone number will remain unchanged.

NOTE: Emergency Number

As of March 9, the campus will have a new emergency number: 44-911. We are working to change all relevant signage, placards, web references and documentation as appropriate. If you need to contact the UMass Lowell campus police from outside the University, you would dial 978-934-4911.

Phase 2

By June 2013, the campus will be assigned a new telephone exchange. Residential students will be assigned phone numbers within that new exchange, which will be well-publicized.Example: The campus will have two exchanges, 978-934 and 978-xxx.


  • On-campus calls to a faculty, staff or University office extension: No change. Continue using the five-digit campus extensions you used in Phase 1. Faculty, staff and University offices will keep their existing five-digit campus extensions and existing outside phone numbers.
  • On-campus calls to residential students: The new exchange will be assigned to residential students. Dial students' rooms with X-1234.
  • Outside callers: There will be no change for outside callers trying to reach  faculty, staff and existing University offices.
    Outside callers trying to reach residential students will have to use phone numbers in the new exchange.

Check back for additional information as this transition is implemented.


Q: Why are we changing our campus extension numbers?
A: UMass Lowell has been using 4-digit extension numbers for our desk phones since 1988. Due to the expansion of our community over the last four years, our campus telephone system must grow as well. Since we are close to using all of the existing phone numbers assigned to UMass Lowell, the change to 5-digit extension numbers lays the ground work to providing ample growth for the future.

Q: What do I dial in the event of an emergency?
A: 911 continues to work as always to dial the City of Lowell Police.  The new campus emergency number is 44-911. This will ring directly to a UMass Lowell campus police dispatcher and is only used for emergencies.

If I want to call the UMass Lowell campus police from an outside line (i.e. a cell phone), what number should I dial?
A: You should dial 978-934-4911. This rings directly to a UMass Lowell campus police dispatcher and is only used for emergencies.

Q: Is there a change to calling off campus?
A: No. Calling to an off campus phone number has not changed: dial '8' to get an outside line.

Q: How does an outside caller reach me?
A: Outside callers should call you the same way as before. Your outside phone number has not changed.

Q: What happens if I forget to dial the leading "4"?
A: Since all campus extension now begin with a "4", dialing any number that doesn’t start with a "4" will give you a fast busy signal (the exceptions are "0" for the campus operator and "8" for dialing an off campus number). If you dial an old 4-digit extension and forget to add the leading "4", the phone system will timeout after 10 seconds and you will hear a fast busy signal.

Q: What about my pre-programmed or "speed dial" numbers on my fax machine or campus telephone?
A: If you have an internal 4-digit extension number programmed in your fax machine or campus telephone, it needs to be changed to the new 5-digit extension. If you have full outside numbers set up as speed dials, these do not need to change. If you need assistance making any changes, please contact the IT Service Desk at 978-934-4357, extension 4-4357, or

Q: I am a student who lives in a residence hall. How do I call my professor with my residence hall phone?
A: To dial your professor’s office, simply dial a "4" before the professor’s old 4-digit extension.

Q: Is the only change to the telephone system?
A: This is the first and most significant change. The second phase of this project will involve a change in the student resident hall phone numbers only. That is set for a mid-summer 2013 time frame.

Q: Who do I contact if I have any questions?
A: If you have any questions, please contact the IT Service Desk at 978-934-4357, extension 4-4357, or You can also contact the Director of IT Service Delivery Operations Steve Hall or Associate CIO Lori Dembowitz.