Justin Gatewood remembers the annoying hurdles he had to jump over to attend an orientation session when he enrolled at Victor Valley College (Calif.). “I had to take time off work and drive over to the campus and sit in a classroom and listen to a counselor for an hour or so and then drive back,” he says. “It had to be all coordinated. It was an ordeal.”
Community college students are more likely to have extra demands on their time and attention, from jobs to family commitments. Anything colleges can do to relieve administrative burdens means more time that students can concentrate on their studies. At Houston Community College, the Information Technology office teamed with the Office of Student Financial Services and the Finance and Accounting office to move to paperless cashiering.
The University of Central Oklahoma once had a desktop printer or multifunction copy machine for nearly every faculty and staff member on campus. In 2009, 1,313 desktop printers and 135 multifunction copy machines were being used by 1,500 faculty and staff members. Denise Smith, director of Purchasing, Payment Services, and Travel, shares that UCO saw an opportunity for consolidation that could reduce spending and improve sustainability on campus.
The idea of students substituting courses in a degree plan is not unheard of, but such requests must be carefully managed. Before the fall of 2011, Texas A&M University was dealing with the challenging and costly issue of processing undergraduate course adjustments within the Degree Audit office in the Office of the Registrar using a paper-based process. Requests were initiated by an advisor, then sent to the department head and dean before arriving at Degree Audit.
The classic registration scenario of bouncing students from their advisor to select classes, to the Business Office to check for holds, and finally to the Registrar’s Office to stand in line is so 20th century—but hard to escape. Everyone at Catawba College (N.C.) agreed it was time to modernize, but faculty advisors did not want their role in the process diminished or to lose a touch point with students. “Advising is an important part of Catawba’s mission to give every student the personal attention needed to be successful,” shares Joanna Jasper, chief information officer.
As students “swirl” through higher education, taking classes at multiple institutions either consecutively or simultaneously, the need for institutions to quickly receive and process transcripts becomes more important. To comply with accreditation standards, Houston Community College was supposed to have all transcripts evaluated by the end of a student’s first semester, a goal their paper-based process was not allowing them to meet in 2008.
At some point during the year, nearly every one of the 4,400 students at Ogeechee Technical College (Ga.) will have a reason to visit the college’s Student Affairs Center (SAC). This central administrative unit houses Admissions, Financial Aid, the Registrar, and Career Services. In 2011, 24,869 student appointments were made with as many as 320 students a day visiting during peak times; during quieter periods, between 80 and 100 students are seen.
Buying stationery supplies, scientific equipment, and office furniture hardly qualifies as capital expenditures. But shop for enough pens, beakers, and chairs, and the amounts add up.
That is especially true at an institution as large as The George Washington University (D.C.), whose decentralized purchasing process made it difficult to keep track of the school’s almost countless minor purchases, to say nothing of getting staff to buy from vendors with which it had negotiated good prices.
Creating a one-stop student services center in 2005 at Wilkes University (Pa.) seemed like a good idea at the time. These popular organizational structures have typically been a cost-cutting measure introduced to allow educational institutions to do more with less. At Wilkes, a one-stop shop was created by co-locating the services of the Registrar, Financial Aid, Admissions Processing, and Cashier.
Buying computers for a college campus is no small feat. In addition to requisitioning and specing them before the purchase, there is the configuration and instillation after the purchase to worry about.