April 12-18, 2002
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IN THIS ISSUE
University sets stage for graduate student innovation
State cuts force hikes in tuition
Faculty Actions from the April BOV meeting
African-American women at increased risk for stroke
Commerce school cultivates innovation and creativity in wine industry

Reactions to Sept. 11 featured in annual ‘Muzzle’ Awards

Baseball field named in honor of the late Ted Davenport
Graduate students are lifeblood of research enterprise
Theater students ‘saw’ a solution for set construction
Lectures engage the mind
Design choices can affect the world environment
Students get one-stop financial services at new Cavalier Central
Feeding hungry ghosts
Whale of a sculpture on display at Fayerweather
After Hours -- Lori Derr
WFPA to honor Bunker, Toms and Black
Students get one-stop financial services at new Cavalier Central
Cavalier Central
Photo by Jenny Gerow
Carey Shirk (seated), a student information counselor, and Pamela Nash (second from right), an athletic grant-in-aid support technician, assist students at Cavalier Central.

By Elizabeth Kiem

In January 2000, the University earmarked approximately $2 million to renovate Carruthers Hall, the aging building housing administrative offices for U.Va.’s bursar, registrar and Student Financial Services.

There was no question the expenditure would provide much-needed architectural refurbishment. What was not expected was the ideological shift the construction caused among the building’s denizens.

“We’re learning about our interdependencies, rather than our separations. It’s a continuous staff development process,” said University Registrar Carol “Stash” Stanley.

“That’s when we said, ‘Let’s just do what we’ve always wanted – let’s have one place, one service center for the student to come into, instead of part of it next door, part of it here, part of it upstairs,’” recalled Student Financial Services director Yvonne Hubbard. Her staff of more than 50 employees still spills out of Carruthers into the adjacent building.

About six months after construction began later that year, a customer-friendly, eye-appealing student service hub stood ready to provide all financial transactions, from loan disbursements to tuition payments, as well as registration and academic record services in just one stop.

For students who can’t electronically slay all the ogres of bureaucracy at the University, the new Cavalier Central is pleasantly streamlined. For grad students who remember the days of registration lines zigzagging the gym, it’s a miracle.
One first-year student sorting through financial aid forms for the first time on her own was just happy to have accessible expertise. “They’ve been incredibly helpful,” Allison Duck said. “Like this situation right here – I can sit at this table and ask questions as I have them, as opposed to calling on the phone and adding to the confusion.”

Placing financial aid, student accounts and the University registrar in one reception area masks the reality of separate divisions that answer to different vice presidents and have vastly different budgets. But that, Stanley said, is precisely what they sought.

“From a business perspective, the backroom operations that create the interactions with students should be invisible. Students don’t care who owns that or who’s under what VP. It’s an administrative hang-up. We just want to fix the front end.”

Cavalier Central’s front end is a handsome faux-marble-top desk, manned by Carey Shirk, the doyenne of Student Financial Services, and one of a team of service representatives from the Office of the University Registrar who rotate coverage in shifts.

“I do triage,” said. Shirk, using the term for generalists skilled in directing students to the appropriate specialist. “Do we need a financial adviser? A student adviser? A W-2? Do they need directions, do they know where the cashier is?”

The registrar’s reps field a number of questions about academic record concerns in the in-person service area of the center, such as about course offerings, registration, grades and diplomas. The office is also rolling out a secure Web application so students can request and pay for a transcript from a remote location. 

In the future, everyone working on the reception desk will be cross-trained, so that any need can be met by any receptionist at any time.

Hubbard and Stanley credit Facilities Management and interior designer Robin Mongold with the success of Cavalier Central’s new space, a felicitous mix of open cubicles and private conference rooms. The piece-built semicircular foyer, fondly called “the ellipse,” is a reminder that this 50-year-old office building, a mile-and-a-half away from Grounds, is in fact a part of U.Va. But despite the enthusiasm for the organizational and spatial improvements on the ground floor of Carruthers, the Emmet Street building’s relative isolation remains a drawback.

“We hope that we can, as a group, move closer to Grounds and maybe have the opportunity to bring other student services … to our delivery location,” Hubbard said.


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