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Re-engineering Teams Get Down to Business

By Shang-Lin Chuang
News Editor

Two new student services re-engineering teams are looking for ways both to improve the way students access information like financial aid and grades records and to better plan and manage events.

The financial and academic services transition team is planning to implement the recommendations made by the student services redesign team. Those proposed include automated access to student financial and academic records and a timely research associateship and teaching assistant appointment process.

The other new team, the co-curricular redesign team, is following the recommendations made by the student services assessment team and is looking for ways to redesign event registration and planning, management of student accounts, space allocation and scheduling of student activities, and resource allocation.

The team is introducing ISS to MIT at a meeting this morning at 9 a.m. in the Building E56 penthouse; the redesign team will be hosting an open meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Student Center.

Teams plan to rework services

The technology consulting firm ISS will be working with the transition team through the summer to build a framework for future technological improvements. Areas targeted for improvement include Student Information Services and World-Wide Web-based student access, said David A. Weber, director of the Sloan School of Management educational services.

"This effort is maybe best characterized as a necessary, but not sufficient condition' to enable the success of student services re-engineering," Weber said.

"As was the key with the assessment and redesign teams, each of the two new teams will be relying heavily on community input," said Director of Special Services Stephen D. Immerman, also project manager. "They will be doing a lot of their work in outreach to the community."

"The goal of the redesign team is to make all the systems that support life outside of classroom easier to navigate," said team captain Anthony J. Ives '96.

Goal to increase online resources

Among the things that the transition team will focus on is establishing a centralized online database where all student records will be kept.

The database will provide authorized users easy access to information, reduce the number of separate databases needed, and reduce the number of times standard information - like Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and addresses - have to be entered.

Under the new automation of student transactions, students would be able to obtain grades, update addresses, add and drop classes, and view and request transcripts all online.

The research and teaching associateship appointment process will change to increase the flexibility and use of electronic funds transfer directly into student's Bursar account or bank account, make available online recommendations and evaluations, and electronic processing for student and faculty appointments.

Over the next four to six weeks, the transition team will be deciding on the priorities of their services, Immerman said. The team needs to decide which area to focus on first, based on importance and the ease with which the change can be made.

What services will be changed will not be known until the team gets into more detailed project planning in about six weeks, Immerman said. The entire implementation effort will likely end in about a year.

Project managers of the transition team include Immerman, Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President Jennifer D. Dougherty, and Martin F. Schlecht ScD '77, professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

The leadership staff of the team include Margaret S. Enders, associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs; Robert A. Rippcondi, manager of student information systems; Bursar Carolyn A. Bunker; and Stanley G. Hudson, director of student financial aid.

Team looks for student members

Started after the approval of the recommendations by the steering committee, the two teams are currently soliciting and interviewing potential student and staff team members.

"The co-curricular redesign team is right now in the process of hiring students," Ives said.

"We have already received over 50 responses from undergraduate and graduate students," Ives said, "and there are about 30 applications already in."

The team will be conducting interviews to determine who will be made team members. The Undergraduate Association and Graduate Student Council have been helping out with the interviews and making recommendations, Ives said.

The redesign team will be working during the summer to produce preliminary recommendations.

"We realize that most students will not be around during the summer," Ives said, "so we will probably be holding most of the open meetings during September to receive feedback from the community."

The team has already started working with the UA, GSC, and the Association of Student Activities. In addition, the team has worked with administration groups including the offices of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, Residence and Campus Activities, and Campus Activities Complex.