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DESPITE THE CHALLENGES OF SECURITY, user education, and redundant records, a database can be a beautiful thing-not only in tracking prospective students through school until they become alumni, but also in streamlining processes, keeping tabs on financial goals, reducing repetitive data entry, and automating billing.

SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE. That's the case with learning management systems. At first glance, mergers and acquisitions have led to fewer competitors in the LMS market. But a closer look reveals that established systems are now accompanied by a range of emerging LMS solutions.

WITH EVERY DECADE THAT GOES BY, THERE seems to be a handful of employee benefits that either dominate the human resource scene or become the latest topics of debate.

In the 1970s, HMOs made their debut, along with individual retirement accounts. In the 1980s, employee assistance programs began helping people with personal issues that could affect their job performance. In the 1990s, health and wellness programs took off , featuring everything from weight control classes to walking programs featuring podcasts that identify native plants.

On May 7, 2007, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported:

"To Frank Loncorich, there's nothing wrong with the trips that are paid partly or fully by the preferred providers of college loans to St. Cloud State University students.

"The St. Cloud State financial aid director has attended several conferences in Florida and two in California, at which lenders paid for his lodging. And there are the annual weekends in Bayfield, Wis., and excursions on the St. Croix River.

IN FRONT OF A WIDE WINDOW IN PRESIDENT Donna Shalala's ground floor office at the University of Miami, two picture frames make perfect bookends for the latest chapters in her remarkable career.

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