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Summer 2005

Student Puzzle Pieces Assembled in Workshops

The University of Virginia exists to educate students. At the very base level, students are recruited, apply, enroll, attend class, take exams, and graduate. The infrastructure that allows all that and more to happen for 19,643 students in 154 different fields, on schedule, year after year, is extensive and is being examined and reconfigured through the Student System Project (SSP).

“To the outsider, or to the student, for that matter, there are three primary functions that must occur to usher students through their University education,” says Charles Grisham, Director of the SSP. “Student Financial Services, Registration and Records, and Admissions. What are less obvious are all the processes that comprise those functions.”

A first sampling of the high level processes that constitute the student puzzle includes:


  • Recruitment
  • Application processing
  • Application evaluation
  • Post-notification processes

Student Financial Services

  • Term activities related to student finance
  • Payment processing
  • Student account adjustments
  • Delinquent accounts
  • Award/loan analysis, notification and activation
  • Fund management
  • Application/document tracking

Registration and Records

  • Course enrollment & final registration
  • Course creation
  • Record Maintenance
  • Grading
  • Academic Progress, Reporting, Transcripts
  • Graduation

“Each of these global processes is comprised of hundreds of smaller processes,” says Grisham. “But right now we are focused on the global level so we can identify common and distinct requirements across schools and departments, and identify strategies, policy issues, and shadow systems related to each global process.”

The format for this evaluation is a series of almost 20 workshops (one for each global process noted above), held throughout the summer months, and attended by people who represent these activities in the schools, departments, and central offices. “We are having tremendous participation and enthusiasm,” says Grisham. “Many people are giving many hours to help us understand current processes and where there might be opportunities for improvement.”

Following the workshops in the areas of admissions, registration and records, and student financial services, SSP will begin to explore interfaces with other critical student-related processes in University services such as housing, parking, bookstore, IDs, etc.

Other summer activities on the SSP docket include visits to universities that have implemented student systems and further refinement of the requirements for a new system, adding puzzle pieces systematically until the complete picture emerges.

To learn more about the Student System Project, visit the Project web site.