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Business services partnership furthers philosophy of oneness on Colorado campus

Naropa University works hand-in-hand with Jenzabar to sync systems including ERP
University Business, December 2012

In the heart of Boulder, Colorado, sits a college where the whole student is greater than the sum of his or her parts. It is a place called Naropa University, where contemplative education encourages students to transform themselves and the world.

It seems natural, then, for administrators to have partnered with Jenzabar to provide an enterprise resource planning system greater than the sum of its parts. Jenzabar’s flexible ERP helps Naropa—an ecumenical, nondenominational school of 1,100 students—reduce operating costs while increasing student success, fundraising, even communication.

As part of the company’s Managed Services solution, four Jenzabar employees work at Naropa to install systems, train staff and ensure the different pieces come together and work as one. “It’s a very eclectic, caring community, and we really do feel like a family,’’ says Todd Kilburn, Naropa University’s vice president for business affairs. “We don’t want to be completely segmented. We want all our systems to work together and flow together.”

Jenzabar and Naropa have worked together for almost 20 years, primarily with admissions, registration, financial aid and financial systems, but two years ago the existing partnership brought their relationship to a new level. “Because we have Jenzabar staff dedicated to Naropa’s information systems on site, we’re able to address really specific questions and integrate our software into the university workflow more easily, and also see a more strategic approach to our systems,” Kilburn says. “Rather than have every department go out and buy software, we have one central system that helps us manage all of that.”

Naropa was founded in 1974 by the late Buddhist spiritual leader, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who envisioned an educational institution where Eastern and Western contemplative practices and academic training could meet. “We are very interested in the whole student, in educating the mind and understanding how education affects them as individuals and their place in the world,” Kilburn says. “There’s a lot of self-reflection, and we encourage students to take time and be thoughtful regarding their own choices and patterns.”

This philosophy can be found in the decision to use Jenzabar’s retention software, which identifies students who might need assistance. “If a student doesn’t show up to classes for two days, an alert may go to an adviser or faculty member. Maybe the student is traveling, or perhaps no one has seen them in a few days, so this prompts us to check on the student and see if a need exists and how we may be able to support them.” Jenzabar has also created the university’s internal portal system, a hub of information that will provide one database for multiple university processes, such as billing, registration and announcements.

“We want everyone to have access to the same information rather than everyone having their own siloed system,” Kilburn says. Jenzabar’s advancement/fundraising software will provide more consistent management of Naropa’s donor base. “Our goal is to be able to better match our donors and alumni with projects of particular interest to them,” he says. Using Jenzabar’s advancement solution is the first step in the university’s move to Jenzabar JX, the company’s latest ERP built on open standard as a service-oriented architecture.

eyond the business efficiencies resulting from the Naropa- Jenzabar partnership, however, are the intangibles. “They’re invested, and we’re invested in them,” Kilburn says. “They really care about what we’re doing and are here on site every day. Often because of that, they’ll see a way to support our faculty, staff, and students that someone off-site wouldn’t see.”

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