There were any number of reasons why The George Washington University needed to automate the way it paid stipends to the thousands of students who work there as tutors, teachers, researchers, or facilitators.
With a web-based interface allowing for staffers across the institution to input information, officials at Central Methodist University, located in Fayette, Mo., figured that awarding scholarships would be a breeze. After all, admission counselors, coaches, and others could easily enter academic and extracurricular credentials for accepted students, allowing for the appropriate officials to approve scholarships and notify the recipients.
Typical college students, you’ve probably realized, are not 9-to-5 kinds of people. With classes, socializing, part-time jobs, and a myriad of other duties and desires crowding their schedules, they live by clocks that vary widely. This can be a problem for those tasked with providing them the services that help optimize their collegiate experience. Many of those folks, after all, work more traditional schedules and aren’t around to answer a call from a student on her way from her waitressing gig to the library to get some late-night studying in.
Most colleges and universities attending EduComm send one or two, sometimes three, people to the conference. Last June, Life University (Ga.) sent seven of its administrators and faculty to learn from the breakout sessions and see the latest higher education technology on the EduComm exhibit floor.
The second year of the ongoing Models of Efficiency program continues to demonstrate that campus departments can be innovative and inspired when it comes to finding ways to provide superior service and maximize resources.
"We believe that improving the efficiency of administrative services yields cost savings and reputation benefits that can propel a college into the top tier of success," noted Miles Lasater, chief operations officer and cofounder of Higher One, which has sponsored the Models of Efficiency program from the start.
When H1N1 made its way to the mountains of northwestern Vermont two years ago, the technology experts at Saint Michael's College were concerned students or teachers might not make it to class. The virus didn't reach epidemic proportions at the small Catholic college, but it energized the team already considering ways to bring lessons beyond the classroom.
Nearly a decade ago, Oklahoma City Community College installed state-of-the-art administrative system technology from Datatel that linked its student, finance, and human resources information systems together. It worked wonderfully - until staff turnover and training lapses diminished its utility.
For years, Butte College in California put up with an internal IT system that left huge gaps in the ability of administrators, faculty, staff, and students to electronically communicate with each other. Administrators were unable to send memos targeted to, say, faculty members or the public works staff. Professors were unable to communicate with specific classes. And students had to go through separate log-in procedures to access the system's Web Advisor - and Blackboard - functions, as well as their e-mail accounts.
The financial pressures on institutions and the scrutiny on spending continue. But campus administrative offices also continue to find new ways to change their practices for the better.
As the stories of our Summer 2010 Models of Efficiency honorees demonstrate, there are a multitude of good ideas being implemented that streamline processes without reducing the quality of service that campus constituents deserve, and in many cases expect.