Moving student transactions online and establishing an information hub for the campus - all the while increasing its personal touch with students - was the challenge Butler University faced last year when it took on the task of streamlining administrative tasks that were normally handled by faculty and advisors. The overarching goal was to free up the faculty and advisors so they could spend more time guiding students' college careers and less time performing administrative tasks such as registration.
But there was some skepticism among the faculty team that centered on a concern that the liberal arts school might be sacrificing a time-honored contact with the students. “We explained to them that if they spend 15 minutes trying to move a student from the 10:00 class to the 8:00, that's 15 minutes they can't spend with a student who needs advice about their academic career,” recalls Kathleen Wilkey, director of Administrative Computing at the Indianapolis-based university. “Now that they understand that, they're asking us why we didn't do this sooner.”
For good reason: With students handling their own enrollment online, Butler's advisors can spend more time guiding the decisions of students. “They're not just helping plan academic careers - they're helping plan lives,” says Wilkey. “They're asking, 'Where do you want to go with your career, and what type of classes will help you get there?'”
Overall, the rollout has gone smoothly for Butler. “About 90 percent of our service calls are what we call successful failures, where the PeopleSoft system prevented a student from registering for a class they weren't eligible to take,” says Wilkey. “So we know it's working.”
With PeopleSoft Enterprise Campus Solutions and Human Capital Management as the information hub and Enterprise Portal as an intuitive front end, Butler University has given its students, faculty, and staff round the-clock access to the information they use every day.
“Students today demand the ability to quickly and conveniently access information 24/7,” says Wilkey. “We're a small university, and PeopleSoft is the foundation that allows us to make data easily accessible to people on campus, as well as to faculty off-site and students studying abroad.”
Like many universities, Butler used to mail grades to students. Today, students access grades online through PeopleSoft - three to four days sooner than before. The university has reduced its printing and mailing costs. “Plus, the records office doesn't have to work over the holidays anymore,” adds Wilkey.
PeopleSoft represents a technical leap forward for Butler, which used a legacy system for nearly two decades. The university has replaced information silos with an integrated suite of pure Internet solutions. “We call it one-stop shopping,” says Wilkey. “Our entire campus community can come to one place to get their work done. We've established the infrastructure, and we can keep adding pieces to it as our needs dictate.”
Despite the initial concern, a greater focus on technology has enabled Butler University to increase its focus on students. “We now have a standard, integrated system that enables us to work efficiently without taking resources away from academics,” says Wilkey. “By moving our business processes to the Web, we've removed the barriers to serving our students.”