When members of the ConnectUGA project team were assembled two years ago, they were well aware of the arduous yet coordinated effort that lay ahead to implement the largest information technology system ever at UGA.
More than 150 faculty and staff across campus serve as the backbone of this project, including units within the Office of the Vice President for Instruction (offices of undergraduate admissions, financial aid, registrar and curriculum systems), as well as the bursar’s office, Enterprise Information Technology Services, institutional research, graduate admissions and student affairs. These offices have collaborated to replace multiple aging systems with a modern and sustainable technology platform now known as Athena.
“Many staff contributed countless hours of their expertise while handling normal job responsibilities to meet tight deadlines,” said Fiona Liken, director of curriculum systems and chair of the project advisory team that included representatives from key units involved in the project. “Other staff also have pitched in to handle daily business functions to maintain a sufficient level of service for the campus.”
Since undergraduate admissions went live in September, more than 21,000 applications for fall 2014 admission were pushed into Athena. Curriculum Systems extracted more than 16,000 courses from CAPA, loaded them into Athena and validated each piece of data. Financial Aid loaded almost 3,000 scholarships. More than 24 million student records have been transferred from the legacy systems, validated and implemented.
Most faculty and staff across campus are familiar with the Information Management System that was the repository for student data. University schools, colleges and departments have relied on this IMS data for advising, scholarships and grades.
“Both OASIS and our legacy student systems provided limited capabilities, particularly with the Web,” said Timothy Chester, vice president for information technology and a member of the project leadership team. “Because of these limitations, departments have become accustomed to running their own systems over the years, often duplicating information for their purposes. This resulted in the development of multiple systems that were becoming less sustainable and unable to keep up with technology.”
Both IMS and OASIS, the Online Access Student Information System that students have used for the past 30 years to register for classes, are being replaced with an integrated system with information in one central database.
The undergraduate admissions, financial aid and registration components now have been launched successfully. Jan Hathcote, the university registrar and a member of the project advisory team, said that students will notice a dramatic difference from OASIS.
In addition, time ticketing for registration will ease peak demands on the new system with the option for registering at any time, day or night and on weekends.
Students also will have better access to their own information. While the financial aid component launched earlier this month, the student account component will be ready in time for students to pay their tuition and fees in July.
“I am deeply grateful to the staff and faculty who have dedicated themselves to this complex and demanding assignment,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The result of their good work will be a system that serves students and the institution better.”
Training for Athena is offered as each phase of the system is implemented. Staff in key areas will be notified by the units in charge of training. Faculty and staff may log in with their UGA MyID at http://connectuga.uga.edu to get a preview of Athena training.