Definitely. The University is simply dropping the mandatory requirement but in no way is hindering or prohibiting the students’ rights to have their works available in UMI/ProQuest or any other fee based or free service. The student holds the copyright to their work and can choose additional methods for publishing and archiving their thesis or dissertation at their own discretion and expense.
ProQuest UMI Dissertation Publishing has been publishing dissertations and theses since 1938. In that time, they have published over 2 million graduate works from graduate schools around the world. In addition to publishing, they provide access to graduate works for thousands of libraries around the world through their online for-fee database. Most dissertations written in the US are submitted to UMI for archiving on microfilm, from which microform or paper copies can be produced. UMI functions as an on-demand book publisher that eliminates the editorial process. One of the services they offer is to help with copyright and working with publishers. ProQuest accepts electronic submissions or paper submissions. The latter are scanned and OCR'ed, but in most cases current technology does not yield as good a result as would come from an electronic submission. They have made available online electronic versions of all works they received since 1996.
For more information about how and why to submit to UMI/ProQuest or to request a publishing packet, use the links below.