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Fall 2005

U.Va. Student Processes Dissected, Future Envisioned

The Student System Project (SSP) reached its first milestone in late summer: completing 17 student process validation workshops that teased out current practices, pain points, requirements for the future system, and issues. They also generated a vision for a future where student administrative processes are largely automated, where students don’t have to provide the same information over and over to different (or the same!) offices, and where a student system provides sufficient flexibility to meet the diverse needs of diverse programs serving diverse students, i.e., today’s university.

George Stovall, Director of Institutional Assessment and Studies, is one of 175 University staff who attended one or more workshops (in Stovall’s case, 13). He shares the opinion of many participants that one of the greatest benefits to the workshops was gaining an understanding of how much is involved in managing student administrative and academic processes and how different schools and departments accomplish that work.

“I have a much greater appreciation of what people do across the University,” Stovall says. “I think the workshops contributed to a sense of team, a camaraderie that will carry us into the implementation of a new system.”

Rachel Most, who attended six workshops, is a professor and assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. She came away viewing the need to implement a new student system as, at the same time, a burden and an “incredible opportunity.”

“Each school and administrative office has the chance to review how they perform all processes relating to a student and rethink them from the ground up,” says Most. “While it's likely some processes will remain the same, I am also hopeful that we can streamline much of what we do and make it appear seamless to our prospective and enrolled students, as well as our alumni.”

The format of the workshops facilitated a sharing of views and information across units that probably has never occurred before, according to Charlie Grisham, SSP Director. “Everyone was interested in learning from others, as well as explaining their own needs,” he reports. “I would characterize the consensus as hoping for, and being willing to work toward, a cohesive academic environment for students across the University that takes into consideration the diverse needs of the various schools and departments.”

The Student System Project team completed a second milestone on November 4, the date of the last site visit to learn from the experiences of other universities that have implemented student information systems. That effort, in conjunction with a requirements review conducted by 145 staff and faculty across Grounds, will be the basis upon which a system vendor is selected over the next couple months.