The timing of the Spring 2020 pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Office of the Registrar and Academic Services (ORAS). Registration, grading and commencement season were in full swing. The shift to remote work required some swift thinking and quick conversions from previously paper-based processes to immediate electronic solutions in order to keep to hard deadlines.
One time-sensitive, critical procedure that needed focused attention was the review and approval of graduate student audits for degree. The audits, which were typically printed and sent to Program Directors via inter-office at the end of March and due back at the end of April, could no longer be shared in that manner.
Never one to shy away from new ideas or hard work, Traci Vennie, Senior Records and Graduation Analyst, immediately conceived of a process to convert stacks of paperwork and signature forms to an online format. With the help of IT, Traci collaborated with the Dean’s Offices to shift all student records and approval forms to SharePoint. Each college and program had their own folder of student audit information as well as a summary tracking document in an Excel format. The review status, approval queue and student record were now transparent to all users at all times; in fact, the audit for degree process allowed approximately forty (40) users to actively make updates, issue approvals, and sign off on over 300 graduation clearances in real time.
The impact of this change has been significant across all areas. Adam Szydlowski, Advisor, KSOM reflects: “Keeping up with a paper trail always proved difficult when we had so many applications spread out across campus. SharePoint allows for the applications to be kept securely in one location which keeps the need for tracking to a minimum.” In addition to the efficacies, we have realized with the ease of tracking, communication has improved from the change. Many new ideas have come to the surface, and once an idea is shared, it is fast and simple to implement changes that benefit everyone involved. Dr. Victoria Castellanos, Associate Dean, PCPS sums it up for all: “I love the efficiencies we have gained by using SharePoint!”
While there may have been an initial learning curve, the new process has been an asset to all stakeholders. Users have saved an insurmountable amount of time and resources by utilizing the electronic SharePoint platform. Traci, Adam, Vicki and others hope to keep this degree audit system in place even after campus returns to fully in-person status, and they encourage other offices to think of creative ways to use SharePoint to accomplish shared work projects.
Article by Julie Ferguson, Registrar, Office of the Registrar and Academic Services