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Friday, February 28, 2014

Save the Date: "Working with International Students: Training for Plan-Level Coordinators"

Wednesday, April 2, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. - location TBD

Graduate Admissions and the ISSS office are hosting a session called, "Working with International Students: Training for Plan-Level Coordinators" to take place on April 2nd.

Content will include:

  • An overview of the international student population

  • How immigration status impacts one's academic career

  • Tips for navigating cultural and language differences

  • Current resources

Watch your email for further details and registration info.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Work Streams team up to improve the student refunds process

Collaboration between work streams has made certain that in the future, the University will spend less time and money maintaining PeopleSoft while still offering the same high level of service to students. The Student and Finance ESUP work streams have been cooperating to ensure that the University can retire several costly modifications to the Student Refunds process. Their work will allow the University to adopt Oracle’s off-the-shelf solution using the Accounts Payable module in Finance (EFS) for refunds rather than the current process of using the Payroll module in HRMS. Despite this change, students will continue receiving refunds quickly through direct deposit; checks will also be available on-demand when a student is granted an exception to the University’s direct deposit requirement. 

Lisa Luhmann Bass, Business Analyst for the Enterprise Financial System (EFS) Module Support area, has provided guidance as the Student Financials team learns more about the Accounts Payable processes. "The Student and Finance work streams work well together to ensure the University leverages delivered PeopleSoft functionality instead of relying on expensive customization,” says Luhmann Bass. “Our collaboration will also help ease the testing and implementation process." 

The groundwork for improving this process was started five years ago. From 2009 to 2011, Carolee Cohen from Academic Support Resources (ASR) chaired the Student Financials Product Advisory Group (PAG). These advisory groups work with other Universities and Oracle to resolve issues and determine improvements for PeopleSoft. Jack Kimmes, also from ASR, participated in a working group in 2010 that defined development requirements for the refund process. This included allowing students to use direct deposit to receive their refund and a method for University staff to create a refund check on-demand. 

“Participation in the PAG definitely helped ensure that necessary improvements were included in PeopleSoft 9.0. It’s nice to see our work pay off for the University,” said Cohen. Had those improvements not been made by Oracle, the University likely would have had to bring several modifications forward. 

Using the off-the-shelf Oracle process will involve some changes for both staff and students, but ESUP staff is hard at work creating training materials that will guide staff and students through those changes. Those interested in some of the specific changes that will be happening around refunding can check out “What’s Changing - Refunding.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Official go-live for ESUP established

The Executive Oversight Committee, with the support of President Kaler, officially established the go-live period for the Enterprise Systems Upgrade Program (ESUP): February 2015. For more information, visit the ESUP blog.

University Executives Establish Go Live Period for ESUP

Executives identify February 2015 as the optimal time to launch the University’s new enterprise systems

The Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) has been actively involved with the management and oversight of the Enterprise Systems Upgrade Program (ESUP) and is proud of the work done to date. At a recent planning retreat, the committee identified scope and quality as their key priorities and asked for scenarios that maximized time for quality code development and testing while fitting into the University’s business cycles.

ESUP staff assembled the scenarios, including various go live options with multiple staffing and timing alternatives. These analyses included application and reporting development, testing and defect management, risk management, anticipated sustainable staffing output, and contract and budget considerations.

Last week ESUP Executive Program Director Dennis Wenzel presented these options to the EOC. Based on the benefits, risks, and considerations available, the EOC identified February 2015 as the optimal time to begin go live activities.

Wenzel recently briefed President Kaler and the Operational Excellence committee, who agreed with the February 2015 period. “Launching in February allows ESUP to thoroughly test the system and spend the necessary time preparing University units to use the new systems,” Wenzel said.

The EOC believe the fully upgraded system will support the University’s operational excellence goals and long-term needs. Furthermore, the EOC believe the recommended date will allow ESUP to meet its rigorous scope and quality standards while remaining within the planned budget.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Minor declaration and master's plan type workflows survey to be sent early next week

Graduate Student Services & Progress (GSSP) is working on creating new online workflows for graduate and professional students to use when declaring a minor and/or master's degree plan type (i.e., Plan A, B, or C). These two new workflows are intended to complement the business process for Academic Advisement (AA). The minor declaration workflow will help standardize processes for graduate (GRD) and departmental master's students (DMS).

GSSP will be reaching out to Directors of Graduate Studies, College Coordinators, and Plan Level Coordinators early next week for feedback regarding the overall design and process of these workflows.

If you have any questions, please email gssp@umn.edu.

Annual Graduate Education planning & update

Acting Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Sally Kohlstedt gave a Graduate Education update to the Board of Regents Thursday morning (February 13, 2014). In her update, Sally reviewed national patterns and trends surrounding graduate education, including career growth, student financial aid and debt, and degrees awarded. She also outlined current focuses, strategies, and challenges facing the Graduate School. For more on this presentation, please visit the Board of Regents docket materials page → open the February 2014 Docket (PDF) → open ASA_Docket.pdf → pages 10-29.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

President Kaler leads new student retention initiative

President Kaler recently announced the Twin Cities new 'Retaining all our Students' initiative, an effort to improve the first-year retention rates of low income students. The program, which will be fully implemented by 2016, is designed to help Pell-eligible students obtain their degree and establish set career paths. Currently, the first-year retention rate for these students is 87%.

The initiative has four focus areas, which include the following:

- The Bridge Program (funded for Pell eligible students)
- SMART Learning Commons program enhancements
- Increased awareness for advisers regarding these students
- Financial literacy (One Stop will focus on these students)

In addition to Pell-eligible students, first generation students will also be a priority of the program.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Building access pilot program

The University recently implemented a Building Access Pilot Program in select buildings on West Bank. The program aims to increase security by limiting building hours in the evenings and on weekends. With a few exceptions (residence halls and research areas, for example), campus buildings are open to the public. The program will improve safety by limiting access outside of regular University business hours to UCard-carrying students, faculty, and staff.

West Bank buildings part of the Building Access Pilot Program include:

- Anderson Hall
- Elmer Anderson Library
- Barker Dance Center
- Carlson School
- Hanson Hall
- Mondale Hall
- Regis Center for the Arts

A list of pilot program buildings and their hours is available. The remaining buildings on West Bank will be changed the middle of spring semester, and the rest of the Twin Cities campus during the summer.

To learn more about the program, visit Building Access Program FAQ.