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SIS Improvements Aid Administrators

By Daniel C. Stevenson
News Editor

An extensively revised and optimized Student Information System was released earlier this month culminating a four-year development effort, according to James J. Culliton, vice president for administration.

The changes affect registration, transcripts, Bursar's Office bills, financial aid forms, and departmental information, Culliton said. SIS provides academic, biographical, and financial information to students, faculty, academic departments, and administrative offices.

The Registrar's Office, which manages the system, consulted with all administrative users of the system, department offices, faculty committees, and faculty and student advisory groups during the development process, Culliton said.

The part of SIS that students can access on the Athena Computing Environment has not yet changed, according to Registrar David S. Wiley '61. The update of the Athena program, which allows students to make some changes to their name and address as well as to review their grades, turned out to be more difficult than expected, Wiley said.

Once the Athena interface is fully updated sometime next year, students will also be able to pre-register for classes, update their emergency information card, view their Bursar's Office statement, and see financial aid awards, Wiley said.

The Athena changes might also let students update their motor vehicle information and evaluate courses using SIS on Athena, Wiley said.

Registration, billing changed

Several changes in SIS affect the registration process, Culliton said. The four registration forms previously used have been integrated into a single form.

Registration status reports have also been redesigned to better display course information and include a projected degree audit showing current progress toward degree requirements, Culliton said.

Some students have complained to the Registrar's Office that the date on their status report - 1995 FA - is incorrect, Wiley said. However, in the language of the report, the date correctly refers to the fall term of the 1994-95 academic year, he said.

Doctoral students working only on a thesis will have automatic pre-registration through the new system, Culliton said. More details about the registration changes will be provided in the Registration Information and Class Schedules booklet to be distributed in early December.

Transcripts will now be prepared electronically, a move that represents a major improvement in quality and speed ["Registrar Updates Transcript System for Improved Efficiency," Oct. 25]. Among other features, the new transcripts will show whether a student took an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program project for pay, credit, or as a volunteer, Culliton said.

The Bursar's Office bill was redesigned to be readable and understandable following a survey of 1,500 students and parents. The bill now lists the transactions for registered students.

The Student Financial Aid Office will also be affected by the SIS changes, Culliton said. Students will be able to receive results of changes in their aid awards as soon as the decision is made. The financial aid award notice has been revised to clearly describe grant, loan, and work-study awards.

Student have received new, randomly-assigned MIT ID numbers in order to address privacy issues, Wiley said. The Registrar's Office has received many complaints from students who say their ID number is wrong, Wiley said. The numbers have only been changed, Wiley said, and students can still use their old ID numbers when completing forms.

Academic departments will be able to use SIS to access academic and biographical information on students for academic and administrative purposes, Culliton said. Departments will be able to enter data directly on the system to support teaching, advising, and graduate aid.

The new SIS also provides departments with online class lists with search capability, Culliton said. In addition, a new final exam scheduling system allows better tailoring of the exam schedule and better management of conflict exams.