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  April 23, 2001

PeopleSoft Implementation to Begin

The first phase of implementing PeopleSoft's new university-wide software that will integrate student information systems will begin on May 7 with graduate enrollment.

The new PeopleSoft software will collect data from multiple offices but store the elements in a single database. The information will then be accessible from any computer with Internet access.

"PeopleSoft will integrate all University areas, including the regional campuses as well as Storrs, into one common business process," says Scott Coopee, director of the PeopleSoft project.

The existing systems that serve admissions, financial aid, the Bursar's and Registrar's offices, and academic advising, were installed in the 1970s and '80s. These systems lack integration and it is often difficult to access and manipulate data entered into one of them from another.

The new system is expected to benefit both students and faculty by making the data more widely accessible and offering greater flexibility in its use. It is also anticipated to save staff time, by eliminating duplication of effort in data entry, and allowing students and faculty to be more self-sufficient.

"Once the information systems are integrated," says Coopee, "the result will be less paper, more productive work, and improved accuracy and completeness of University information."

PeopleSoft will be rolled out at the University over the next couple of years, and will be fully implemented by 2003. Beginning May 7, graduate students - including those at the Health Center - will use PeopleSoft to enroll for graduate classes. Undergraduates and the offices that serve them will begin using PeopleSoft in October.

James Henkel, associate dean of the graduate school and a member of the PeopleSoft project team, says the first phase is similar to a Beta test. "We're testing the system with a defined population," he says. "We'll get a better sense of how the system is going to work and we'll be able to fix anything that's not working."

Graduate students are well suited to be the "test subjects" for the project, Henkel says, because they are a smaller population than the undergraduates, the courses they take don't tend to be full, and they are more willing to experiment with technology.

"They're the most savvy students," adds Coopee.

Henkel says PeopleSoft will be especially beneficial for graduate students, many of whom come from out-of-state or overseas. With the new system, they will be able to register for classes by logging on the web from anywhere in the world at any time of day or night. PeopleSoft will replace registration by touchtone telephone.

"The system is based on the premise that the Internet is as pervasive as the phone," says Coopee.

The new system will be capable of tracking students taking more than one degree simultaneously - for example, Ph.D. students who become eligible for a master's degree after completing their general exams - something the current system cannot handle.

Faculty will be able to look at their class rosters at any time, determine grades, and contact advisees, all via the web. They also will be able to enforce prerequisites and instructor consent provisions for their classes.

Staff of the Graduate School and many of those in the Registrar's office have been receiving training in how to use the PeopleSoft system. Further training sessions are scheduled during the summer break.

Henkel says the Graduate School has sent a letter to graduate students about the changes and will soon distribute a brochure with detailed instructions about how to log on to the system and where.

He says staff will be available to help from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Anyone who has a problem with logging in may call the ITS Help Desk at (860) 486-HELP. For other registration problems, call the Graduate School at (860) 486-3615 or send e-mail to the Graduate School. For more information, visit the project website.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu

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