Maine's Public Universities - University of Maine System


1. Q. What is the timeline of the project? When will you be redesigning the student services organization?

During February and March the core team developed, with UMS input, redesigned student services processes. These processes will be used as the team works to redesign the student services organization over the next six weeks. The team will present the recommendations for the organizational model to the Executive Advisory Committee and the Presidents at the end of May for approval. In June, The Chancellor and Board of Trustees will be asked to review and approve the organization so that the project may work towards a June, 2006, initial implementation.

2. Q. How does this work benefit the students, staff and faculty?

The core team conducted focus groups at each university for students, faculty and staff with the participation of 353 individuals from across the system. Benefits articulated during those sessions included:

Student benefits:

  • Better self service tools and the ability to access student information 24/7
  • More consistent deadlines and policies, which decreases confusion
  • Eliminates the need to send duplicate documents when applying to more than one university
  • Emphasis on better advising using online tools to support access to student information, which will provide up-to-date, accurate information (e.g. transfer matrix, degree audit)
  • One easy-to-read, consolidated bill with uniform due date and fee descriptions

Staff and Faculty benefits:

  • More consistent deadlines and policies, which decreases confusion
  • Better access to and view of applicant data with appropriate levels of permission
  • Emphasis on the holistic nature of advising using online tools to support access to student information, which will provide up-to-date accurate information (e.g. transfer matrix, degree audit)
  • Better self service tools and the ability to perform transactions and have access to student information 24/7
  • Ability to manage information more easily with imaging and document management

3. Q. Having been urged to comment on the THESIS project, I am just curious why there is apparently no one on the core team representing UMS employees, faculty, or students, as they all seem to be the ones affected by the proposed changes.

Thank you for your comments. The core team works full time, three days per week over a 16 week period; this is a huge commitment from the core team members and their universities to redesign student services. We have UMS employees and experts on our core team representing student services in the areas of Admissions, Advising, Registration, Bursar, Financial Aid, and also representing seven universities and the System Office. In addition we have two faculty members and one student on our Executive Advisory Committee who we meet with regularly. As part of our process we have, and will continue to have, open two-way communication with UMS stakeholders.

4. Q. Training to employees is mentioned. What about students?

The training of staff, faculty and students is critical to the success of the THESIS project. During the implementation planning phase of the project, a complete training plan with materials will be developed for faculty, staff and students. Training will commence as soon as possible following any new changes. We will be looking to university students and staff to guide us with their suggestions and expertise.

5. Q. I hope that there are meetings with AA's, department heads, and students when the first draft of the THESIS recommendations are made.

The THESIS Communications Team devotes some time each week to anticipating the community's information needs and to designing communications documents and strategies to respond to those needs. People who would like more information should use the THESIS website to express their needs and concerns. There will be extensive opportunities for two-way communications following each major planning step.

6. Q. THESIS intends to destroy the one thing experts know improves recruiting and retention: face-to-face contact with a significant University person.

The premise of THESIS is not to impersonalize students' college experiences. Rather, we're trying to make the routine back-office functions more efficient, enabling the front-office staff to spend more time on personal interactions with students. Students will continue to have the ability to receive personal service on their campus of enrollment. It's our hope that this new model will be the impetus for many more one-stop student service centers on the System's campuses.

7. Q. When the Strategic Plan is finally decided and implemented, it is essential that UMS create a document that is both comprehensive and comprehendible about what is really going on in the System. My wife has tried to be a salesperson for and been trying to create customers for the University for years, but finds the maze of criss-crossed programs and course credit contentiousness bewildering and discouraging. The System has badly hurt itself by never offering a useful guide to all programs. This is absolutely critical to turning this ship in the right direction.

A. Thank you for your comments. They certainly support our efforts, which are aimed at creating seamless services for students, better maintenance of a course equivalency matrix, more efficient transfer processes, and more focused and consistent marketing, recruitment and student service materials. Many thanks for your support!

8. Q. I don't recall hearing about any meetings soliciting input from IT departments on each campus... there are a number of systems and processes which depend upon the functionality currently available in the various student information systems--primarily upon the import and export capabilities thereof… I am very concerned that this point be addressed--there needs to be published ways to do imports and exports from/to whatever new systems are developed. And a published API would be a good idea, as well.

As we get into the implementation phase and create these technology linkages, we will have a team working in technology requirements throughout implementation. On April 13, the THESIS team held a "technology day" with representatives from UNET, Project Enterprise, and university IT staff to begin to explore technology issues that must be addressed as we proceed toward implementation of central processing. Several technology experts from across the UMS system are expected to participate and provide input to our planning process.