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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Eleanor’s update

Happy New Year! We are off to a running start as all the system campuses have begun spring term. Overall, things are going pretty well.

As you take a moment to read this newsletter, notice how we continue to make improvements to better serve students. In student records, a new transfer evaluation system (TES) has gone live for Twin Cities, the tracking and processing of diplomas has significantly improved for all campuses, and creation of a new curriculum analysis dashboard—part of the Student Success Analytics (SSA) efforts—is ready at Duluth. Financial aid staff have made spring disbursements across the system, sent estimated awards for next year for Morris and Rochester, and the student finance area has already implemented two of its CS PS 9.2 Upgrade Phase II projects. Not a bad way to start the new year and the new term.

Sue's update

We are in spring term and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) has added servers to handle the load on our systems. With over 300,000 sessions on MyU the first class day for Morris, Rochester, and Twin Cities, we are hoping these precautions will help keep performance on our systems adequate throughout the week. I do realize performance was not optimal since many of us couldn’t log in to MyU.

The 9.2 CS Upgrade will have a change in project leadership. Eleanor Pijut will be taking over Carrie Otto’s 9.2 CS upgrade responsibilities as she transitions over to work with Lincoln Kallsen on CRM initiatives. Carrie has done an outstanding job on the project and in ASR over the years. Eleanor has played a crucial role in both the ESUP project and the 9.2 CS project so I am confident that the project will be in good hands.

The Campus Solutions/PeopleSoft Audit’s essential finding is now closed. The statement, “Excessive user access needs to be removed and access management processes need improvement,” has been corrected and processes are in place to monitor. Thanks to everyone that contributed to correcting this finding.

Caucus night

February 6, 2018 is caucus night. Per Board of Regents resolution, the University may schedule classes or events on caucus night with the Board’s authorization, however students and/or instructors are permitted to attend their party’s caucus night if they wish. Students must notify their instructor in advance, and instructors are expected to accommodate their requests. If enough students indicate that they will be attending their caucus so that holding class becomes impractical, instructors may cancel the class or make alternative arrangements.

Capital infrastructure recommendations from the governor

In January of an even-numbered calendar year, the governor is required by statute to submit a list of capital infrastructure recommendations to the legislature for consideration in the upcoming legislative session. Governor Dayton announced his capital infrastructure bonding recommendations for the 2018 session. In his recommendations, he included nearly $300 million for the University of Minnesota.

The total for the governor's recommendation is higher than the University's request and puts the the University in a great position heading into the legislative session, however, the governor's list of recommendations is only the first step in the process leading to a capital investment bonding bill. The House and Senate will release their own recommendations during the 2018 session, which begins on February 20.

Updates to diploma ordering

Along with the upgrade to the Parchment storefront (our transcript vendor) that happened on December 5, ASR implemented online ordering of duplicate diplomas through Parchment. The Parchment form is available on the One Stop website, Forms page. Fifty-seven students placed orders online in the first month.

Diploma order status checklist items were also put into production recently. A team worked to develop data points in PeopleSoft so that users system-wide can easily see the status of a student’s initial or duplicate diploma request. A byproduct of this is that diplomas can now be ordered and shipped out weekly. Questions about these new checklist items can be directed to Dan Delaney (delan021@umn.edu) or Erik Sparby (spar0110@umn.edu).

House version of the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill released

On December 10, republicans in the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Workforce introduced a 542-page bill that would significantly reshape how students apply for and receive federal financial aid. 

The bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) reflects many of the committee’s priorities over the last few years, including a move to a “one grant, one loan, one work-study” model (which eliminates the current subsidized Direct loan), increased student counseling requirements, a transition away from institutional cohort default rates to repayment rates for academic program aid eligibility, and caps on the amount that can be borrowed at the graduate level as well as the elimination of time-based loan forgiveness provisions (i.e., income-based repayment forgiveness and public service loan forgiveness). 

It also proposes eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and replacing it with a Pell Grant “bonus” that students could earn if they complete over 30 credits a year. Democrats in the House are overall not supportive of the reauthorized HEA as it is written, and the Senate has not released their version of the revised HEA yet.

Twin Cities, non-resident undergraduate 15% tuition increase

In December, the Board of Regents (BOR) approved a proposal to boost tuition for Twin Cities non-resident undergraduates by more than $3,700 a year. This is the the second double-digit increase in a row for this population, whose tuition rose 12.5% in fall 2017. The change would not affect Minnesota residents, or those from Wisconsin and the Dakotas who file for reciprocity.

Increases for continuing students will be limited to 5.5% a year, while new students would pay the higher rates next fall. The 2018-19 rates for Minnesota residents will be set by the board in the spring.

Last year, the board set a five-year goal of raising the University’s non-resident rate to the midpoint of the Big Ten—an estimated $35,000 a year by 2021. Under the new plan, however, it could reach that number by the fall of 2019.