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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Eleanor's update

Spring has arrived and with it comes all the activity and preparation for graduating students.
As we keep our heads down and work with the many daily details to support students’ progress towards degrees we sometimes forget the bigger picture. But let’s not. Instead, let’s remember this is the time of year we can actually see the results of all those efforts: students leaving the University with degrees!

Student Records folks are making class search easier for students to find the right classes at the right time, and the Student Financial Aid group is providing Prior, Prior Year (PPY) guidance in this transition year. Student Finance folks are making sure students can continue to do business with the University electronically, and One Stop Student Services staff are continuing to promote financial wellness. Read on to learn more about all of these and other efforts contributing to student success at the University.

Sue's update

March is full of twists and turns when it comes to the weather. We started off with spring, moved into tornados, and finished with snow. This reminds me of responding to various legislative requests this year. The bill for students attending closed, for-profit higher education institutions financial aid eligibility and credit transfer authorization is on hold. The new bill brought forward recommends we accept all students that are in the top 10% of their class. Governor Dayton was not in favor of the request to support student success for the institution. There is a lot of interesting discussion occurring. Also in February, Regents Omari put forth a resolution (2:39:00) which I recommend you view.

At the Association of American Universities (AAU) registrar’s conference, many schools are targeting the Campus Solutions upgrade for later this fall. Cornell just went live over President’s Day weekend with no major issues. Other notable items from the conference include course and term compliance monitoring, student success initiatives, and filling in the financial gap for students.

Thank you for your help as we head into spring.

Internal audit update

Review the report on the internal audit findings on the 2015 PeopleSoft upgrade conducted this past fall: Campus Solutions Upgrade Audit Report. As a reminder, two surveys were developed to seek input from advisors and faculty go-tos (faculty support) on various aspects of the upgraded student system. Feedback was organized into three categories: general survey feedback on areas of concern, system issues, and common enhancement requests.

Student email lifecycle

While reviewing student degree progress data, it became known that a large number of students did not have active email addresses, even though they were listed in APLUS. Subsequent investigation revealed two issues with email lifecycle: 1) APLUS displays an email address as a formula of Internet ID + @umn.edu rather than pulling email addresses directly and 2) many email accounts had been suspended as part of a clean-up effort during the December Google Application upgrade.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) was using the agreed-upon six terms (excluding summer) since last active term, but the start date of that term was used, effectively making it one term shorter than the intended six terms. OIT/IDM will continue using the start date of the last active term, but will now count seven terms prior to deactivation, resulting in the agreed upon six terms.

Additionally, it was discovered that students with a “leave of absence” status were being deactivated. Since this is not desired, Academic Support Resources (ASR) is continuing to work with OIT to change this.

Finally, for those of you who use APLUS, please note that the email address listed in APLUS cannot be assumed as active because of the aforementioned way that data is populated.

Learning Management System (LMS) vendor demos

The University is quickly approaching a decision on the future of its centrally supported Learning Management System (LMS). The decision is officially between two options: 1) the "Software as a Service" hosted version of Moodle (represented in the evaluation period by MoodleRooms), or 2) the Canvas LMS. This month the University community was invited to learn more about the Learning Management System (LMS) evaluation currently underway. Join in person or online as representatives from each vendor will demonstrate the features and functions of each system and answer questions. To learn more about why the University is evaluating Learning Management Systems, read the Latest LMS News: Five Things the University Community Needs to Know.

Senior administrators introduced

Dr. Scott Lanyon was introduced at the February Board of Regents meeting as the new Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education. He was appointed in 2016. The graduate school spans the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses.

Lynda Welage has been named dean of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, effective July 31, pending approval by the Board of Regents at its March meeting. As dean, Welage will be chief executive officer and chief academic officer of the College of Pharmacy, which spans the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses. Welage brings extensive experience as a collaborative academic leader and an accomplished translational researcher, educator, and pharmacy practitioner.

Access Request Form (ARF) updates

The Provisioning Access Request’s (PAR) new website for Enterprise Access Requests was launched at the end of January. The new design keeps the ARF and the instructions for filling it out on one page, provides the option to expand all categories or collapse them, and replaces PDF attachments with ServiceNow workflows. There are still a few PDF forms, but the plan is that all the PDF forms will be converted to a workflow by April.

Schedule Builder enhanced with class search

Since the decision to use PeopleSoft-delivered class search, ASR has received a great deal of feedback from staff. In response to this feedback, a group of individuals from ASR, OIT, and CLA explored different options: 1) modify the delivered class search in PeopleSoft, 2) enhance the supplemental class search tool, and 3) look at functionality in Schedule Builder. The decision was to integrate a class search within Schedule Builder, keeping in mind there is still the need to minimize modifications to PeopleSoft, yet continue to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff, and external audiences. 

March 20 marked the soft launch to surface class search filters in Schedule Builder for all campuses. Two rounds of formal usability were completed prior to the launch and an informal feedback form has been embedded into the pages of Schedule Builder for users to provide feedback as they interact with the new filters.

Report changes related to preferred name and gender

System Registrar Council (SRC) group continues work on preferred name. The current focus on preferred name and gender stems from Title IX requirements. The group is reviewing a list of reports to analyze for name and gender usage. In some cases due to legal reasons or requirements from external agencies, such as the NCAA, there is no choice allowed.

Undergraduate education policy updates

The Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences and Leave of Absence policies were recently revised and are now available for the 30-day comment period. The Senate Committee on Educational Policy has been reviewing the Grading & Transcripts policy and is considering minor changes and a change to the deadline for lapsing incompletes. The potential policy revisions include input from several groups including the Registrar’s Advisory Committee and the System Registrar Council. Updates will be provided as policies undergo changes. Other policies that may be reviewed in the near future include the policies for Credit and Grade Point Requirements for an Undergraduate Degree (S/N language for Twin Cities) and Using Email as the Official Communication Method (due for comprehensive review).

Student records training requirements change

The ASR training team is working with the system campuses to streamline training requirements. Previously, staff on the system campuses needed in-person training to gain security access for CCS, Registration, Program/Plan, PCAS, Astra Academics, Astra Events, and other topics. Because the campuses each have extensive expertise as well as variations in business processes, each campus may now conduct its own training on these topics to meet the security requirements. The ASR training team will continue to provide support including offering in-person training if desired, providing online training courses, access to documentation, and maintaining training records in ULearn. The benefits of this include fewer delays in training for new staff, lower travel costs, and training targeted to each campus’ business processes.

PeopleSoft PeopleTools 8.55 upgrade system outage

The PeopleTools upgrade (which must be completed prior to the Campus Solutions 9.2 upgrade) will be taking place the first weekend in April. MyU (including access to employee W-2s), PeopleSoft applications, and other online services such as APAS and Grad Planner will be unavailable due to system updates on Saturday and Sunday, April 1 and 2. Service is expected to be restored on Sunday afternoon, April 2.

Campus Solutions PeopleSoft 9.2 upgrade

Here are a few quick updates on the 9.2 project as planning continues. The project kickoff is scheduled for April 6 (calendars have been held for those invited). The timeline for phase one (technical upgrade) of the project has been finalized. Training on several of the enterprise component tools (Activity Guides, WorkCenters, Forms and approval builder, CAF, Notification Framework) for the student Business Analysts is scheduled for mid-April. Project manager Carrie Otto returned from leave this week and has begun work to finalize phase two of the project.

IRS filing (1098T)

The Student Financials IT group has completed work on the 1098T filing for 2016 forms with the IRS this week well ahead of the 3/31/2017 federal deadline.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool offline

The Internal Revenue Service’s Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is down, a federal tax service tool that assists with the federal student aid application process, due to technical issues. Concerns about a potential security breach prompted the federal government to shut down a key link in the current website that prospective college students use to apply for financial aid.

The link that appears on the US Education Department’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and allows students to automatically download information from their (or their parents’) tax returns stopped working on March 3.

Even though the data retrieval tool is down, the FAFSA can still be completed. Students and their families will need to hand-enter their 2015 tax information into the FAFSA, which may take more time and increases the risk of data entry errors. Finally, as a result of tax data not being imported from the IRS, the Department of Education will likely select more records for verification, increasing workload demands in financial aid offices to manually review these records.

1098-T notice to parents and guests with access

In February 2017, approximately 31,000 parents and/or guests who have been granted access to student finance views were sent a courtesy notice with information on how to access their student’s 1098-T form. In the past we had relied on students to forward their own notice to parents, but this often resulted in confusion when a parent logged in via the student link and did not find a form. (Some parents were former students who would find their own form, and some have no other association with the University and did not find anything.)

Unintended consequences of new 1098-T guidance

Due to IRS changes surrounding 1098-T reporting, the University’s process for generating a 1098-T has changed this year. Specifically, the 1098-Ts were produced for some students who were previously exempted from receiving a 1098-T because their Box 5 (scholarships and grants) was greater than Box 2 (qualified tuition and fees billed). The IRS changes necessitated that the University provide forms to students whose Box 5 was equal to or greater than Box 2. This increased the number of forms produced by over 20,000 across the system. The biggest unintended consequence of this change was providing forms to students who are in programs such as College in the Schools (CIS) and Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). Even though these students are in high school, the 1098-T form is still required. This change generated questions to One Stop from parents, but staff were able to satisfactorily explain the issue.

Annual e-Business Agreement

On March 13, the prior year’s e-Business Agreement was “turned off” and the new year’s version of the agreement was turned on. This marks the third year students will be completing the e-Business Agreement. By signing, students are agreeing to do business electronically with the University. The items the student is agreeing to have not changed and the text of the agreement can be found on each campus’ One Stop websites, under Terms and Conditions in the footer.

This means that after March 13, 2017 any current student on any campus signing into MyU, will be presented with the new, pop-up eAgreement. Students will need to read and click ‘Confirm’ at the bottom of the eAgreement, before they will be able to access MyU. If students do not sign the eAgreement, they will have to close their current window and will not be allowed to MyU (and everything within it) until they confirm the agreement.

Tuition benefits for graduate students added late

This item only directly impacts graduate students at the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses who have a tuition benefit (TB). The Office of Student Finance (OSF) has seen a recent increase in departments adding graduate tuition benefits late. When tuition benefits for graduate students are added after the first bill due date, issues arise.

When a TB is added late, a credit balance is generated if the student has already paid his/her bill for the term. This is problematic for international students who pay their bill by international wire, because a credit balance check or direct deposit is not generated for them. Rather, funds are refunded via our Flywire vendor, and depending on where the international student is from, this refund may be further delayed due to banking issues in the home country.

The OSF has reached out to Flywire and is also working with Human Resources to underscore the importance of timely tuition benefit awards for graduate students.

Crookston (March 2017 updates)

Chancellor finalists
The search committee for the Crookston chancellor brought four final candidates to campus March 7, 8, 9, and 10. Each applicant visited for a full day of interviewing. The search committee met on March 14 to write their report. https://www.crk.umn.edu/chancellor-search

Progress Towards Degree (PTD)
Three academic programs—accounting, sport and recreation management, and natural resources‚—will take part in the 2017-2018 Progress Towards Degree (PTD) pilot. At the conclusion, an evaluation will take place to determine if the PTD will be expanded to include other programs. 

Crookston strategic planning website update
UMC's website for strategic planning is being updated to reflect current efforts in this area. The site is intended to help inform the campus and community about strategic planning efforts currently underway.

Duluth (March 2017 updates)

UMD hosts March BOR
The March Board of Regents meeting is being held March 23-24, 2017. There are a number of events scheduled, but the board meeting will be Friday morning from 8:45 a.m. to noon in the Ballroom, Kirby Student Center, at the Duluth campus.

Cross registration program benefits students

In February, UMD Chancellor Black, University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS) Chancellor Wachter, and College of St. Scholastica (CSS) President Geary signed a recommitment to the Cross Registration Agreement, which allows students enrolled at one school to take up to two classes at the other two institutions. This program helps students graduate faster and fulfill graduate program prerequisites.

Higher Learning Commission (HLC) preparation underway

In 2017-2018, UMD will have multiple events that support the reaccreditation with Higher Learning Commission. Significant reflection work is underway by all units. 

Strategic Planning
Along with the system-wide system strategic planning effort that is underway with all campuses, UMD is conducting a SWOT analysis and will be refreshing our Strategic Plan, mission, values, and vision in 2017-2018.

UMD is moving our “petition to change expected graduation term” form into the new TRANSform workflow that will be in place by summer 2017.

Morris (March 2017 updates)

UMM welcomes Chancellor Michelle Behr

Morris’s new Chancellor, Michelle Behr was introduced at the February Board of Regents meeting in the Twin Cities, and the Morris Campus community welcomed Chancellor Behr with a reception on Feb 7. This month, Chancellor Behr has also begun traveling the Morris region meeting with constituents. Take a peek and meet Chancellor Behr: video introduction with Chancellor Behr.

One Stop Student Services (OSSS) position announcement

The University of Minnesota, Morris has an opening for a One Stop Student Services - American Indian Programs Counselor. For a full list of qualifications, job duties, and instructions on how to apply visit: humanresources.umn.edu/jobs and enter Job ID 316036 in the keywords field. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please share information about this position with people you know that would be interested and qualified.

Rochester (March 2017 updates)

Rochester’s first Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award recipient
The University of Minnesota has announced Dr. Robb Dunbar is being honored as a 2016-17 recipient of the prestigious Morse-Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award. The Morse Award has been bestowed annually since 1965 upon exceptional teachers who are nominated by their colleges as a way to recognize excellence in undergraduate education. Recipients of the award become members of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and receive the title “Distinguished University Teaching Professor.” Dr. Dunbar is the first University of Minnesota Rochester faculty member to receive the award.

Position announcement
The University of Minnesota, Rochester has an opening for a One Stop Admissions Counselor. For a full list of qualifications, job duties, and instructions on how to apply visit: humanresources.umn.edu/jobs and enter Job ID 316091 in the keywords field. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please share information about this position with people you know that would be interested and qualified.

Twin Cities (March 2017 updates)

Graduation rates trending up
The 4, 5, and 6-year graduation rates for the Twin Cities campus all went up with the 2016 data snap. The 4-year graduation rate exceeded the Regents’ goal of 65% (officially 65.2%), while we missed the 6-year rate goal of 80% (officially 78.9%). Based on the degrees already awarded and the applications for degree through summer 2017, this year’s graduation rates have the potential to be 1.5% to 4.2% higher.

Financial aid ISIR code 399
With the implementation of Prior, Prior Year (PPY) this year, students and families were required to use the 2015 tax information for two aid years, 2016-17 and 2017-18, when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Sometimes this has resulted in instances of conflicting information between the two aid years, and the financial aid office must resolve these data conflicts. When this occurs, Institutional Student Information Report (ISIR) code 399 flags these records.

During this transition year to PPY, the conflicting FAFSA information may actually impact financial aid that has already been disbursed for a previous term. In some instances, this can even result in the office having to take back aid from students from the previous year.

For students in these situations, the Twin Cities campus has instituted a special protocol to help mitigate some of the negative consequences of having financial aid ‘pulled back’ after a term has already ended. Specifically for students in this situation, we will waive some late fees, consider alternative payment plans if necessary, and be more lenient on hold release appeals to allow registration and avert future enrollment cancellation.

Unlike standard verification, resolving 399 codes can be more complex and take more time for the financial aid office staff to resolve as there is often more information that needs to be collected, reviewed, and verified.

Live Like a Student (LLAS) receives grant for international student video series
Live Like a Student (LLAS), the financial wellness campaign comprised of members from One Stop Student Services, Continuity and Compliance, and the Office of Student Finance, recently applied for and was granted a $23,000 budget to create financial wellness outreach specifically for international students. The funding is provided from the International Student Academic Enhancement Services Fee. Professionally created videos geared toward the international student community will be created and distributed to help specific populations understand financial wellness. Additionally, One Stop staff will present at Global Gopher Week to engage in a face-to-face setting with international students. If you have questions about LLAS or this announcement, please reach out to Betsy Everts at everts@umn.edu.

University to host Higher Education Financial Wellness Summit
One Stop Student Services at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is thrilled to host the 4th Annual Higher Education Financial Wellness Summit (The Summit) from July 30-August 1, 2017! The Summit unites educators with a passion for student financial wellness and connects those who value the significance in students' understanding of how to manage their personal finances. Previous host institutions have been The Ohio State University and Indiana University. Program proposals and early bird registration deadlines are on March 31, 2017. The conference will take place at The Commons Hotel on the Minneapolis campus.

Please let either Nate Peterson (pete2787@umn.edu) or Betsy Everts (everts@umn.edu) know if you have any questions about this conference, Live Like a Student, or the financial wellness outreach campaign on the Twin Cities campus.

Welcome new staff
Remy Abdullahi joined ASR - IT Custom Application Development team on March 13. He reports to Kristy Davis with Ian Whitney serving as his team lead. His office is in 160 Williamson.

David Engen joined Continuity and Compliance on March 8 in the position of Multimedia and Instructional Designer (Acad Technician 3). David is located in 160 Williamson and reports to Stacey Tidball.

Christina Leighton joined Continuity and Compliance on March 14 in an 18-month position of Editor/Writer and reports to Carin Anderson. She is located in 160 Williamson.

Alison Link joined ASR-IT Student Data and Analytics team on March 20 in the temporary position of Developer 2. She reports to Kristy Davis, with Jeff Idle serving as the team lead, and is located in 160 Williamson.