June 29, 2006

SIUC to implement new student information system

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Implementation of a new student information system – or SIS – will begin next month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The project will take two years. Once completed, it will replace what is currently a 15-year-old system based on aging mainframe technology. The new system, from SunGard Higher Education in Malvern, Pa., uses state-of-the-art Web technology. More than 900 colleges and universities nationwide – including more than 20 in Illinois – use the SunGard system.

"From recruitment to admission to enrollment to graduation, the new SIS will be the tool that students depend on to guide their academic experience," Kevin D. Bame, SIUC's executive director of finance, said. "We are making a huge investment for students in providing a system that will serve this campus well for another 12-15 years."

The new system will enhance SalukiNet, the system that provides students with Web access to their personal records, allowing them to pay bursar bills, submit financial aid applications and register for classes.

It also will eliminate the need to log in to multiple systems using multiple IDs and passwords. A student portal will provide single sign-on access. The portal will help enrich students' online experiences by providing them convenient, secure and personalized access to e-mail, personal and course calendars, course message boards, course chat, personal records and other services.

Faculty will be able to enter end-of-the-semester grades online, providing students with faster access to their final grades. Also, the system offers an electronic grade book, allowing students to view their grades on assignments, quizzes and tests and receive immediate feedback on their progress throughout a course.

In addition, the new SIS will enhance faculty-student and adviser-student collaboration.

"Faculty and advisers can sit with students and easily retrieve information on current enrollment, review progress toward education goals and register students," Bame said.

The system also will enhance the admissions process with a Quick Admit method for qualifying students. Prospective students will be able to view the status of their application, see if they are missing any documents and check the status of the admission decision. The online course catalog and class schedule will have more flexible search capabilities.

"When you upgrade your technology, you are going to upgrade your responsiveness," Scott Bridges, SIS project coordinator, said. "Students expect a certain amount of seamlessness, customer service and customization, and this system will go a long way in improving that."

Students are paying for the new system through a $6-per-credit-hour information technology fee. Cost of the system is $6.84 million.

Becoming the best student-responsive public research university in Illinois is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.