There is celebration at Catawba College as the first of many offices on campus goes live with the new SunGard Higher Education Banner System. In late January, after months of training and software preparation, the Financial Aid Office began packaging financial aid for new Fall 2011 students using the Financial Aid module of the Banner system.
"Now's the time that prospective students are trying to make decisions about which college to attend and so we want to have information in their hands so they can actually make a decision," explained Melanie McCulloh, Catawba's Financial Aid Director. "This new system is more automated and allows merit awards which are made based on SAT/ACT scores and grade point averages to automatically be plugged in to a student's financial aid package."
After fall 2011 registration, slated for March 28-31, McCulloh's staff will begin packaging financial aid for returning students. Some returning students in the School of Evening and Graduate Studies have received their financial aid packages from the new Banner module, McCulloh said, and they have had no comments. "This indicates that they're taking this new information in stride," she added.
McCulloh said that more features of the Financial Aid module would come online during the summer, allowing work study funding and other financial aid information to be available to individual students. "This new system will streamline our processes a little bit more. We are moving in the direction of going paperless, and although we're not completely there yet, we're getting there."
Catawba's implementation of the SunGard Higher Education Banner system on campus began in June 2009. It has allowed the college to convert disparate campus computing systems into a new enterprise system. Federally mandated changes to the financial aid software for the 2011-2012 academic year made it imperative that Catawba's Financial Aid Office be the first office to go live with the system.
Anna Swanson LaGreca, Catawba's SunGard financial aid consultant, cheered the efforts of the Catawba team in getting the Financial Aid module of the Banner system up and running on schedule. "I am so proud of all of you at Catawba. You really are one of the best clients I've ever had. While there are always challenges, you are all so proactive, professional, and smart. I was looking around at everything you have already done since your Financial Aid go live (without official go live support), and it is just great. You not only have learned a completely new system, but you have also automated a lot of things rather than just keeping things status quo and that's lot of hard work. "
Members of Catawba's Banner Financial Aid team include Robin Misenheimer, programmer-analyst; Melanie McCulloh, Director of Financial Aid; Tracie Hummel, Associate Director of Financial Aid; and Christy Clifton, Assistant to the Director of Financial Aid and Work Study Coordinator.
Other departments that are also in the process of converting to and training on the new Banner system include the Business Office, Human Resources, Admissions, the Registrar's Office, Student Affairs, Development, Institutional Research and the School of Evening and Graduate Studies that handles admissions for the evening and graduate programs.
With one integrated computing system, data can be entered once, and then shared by various departments. Retrieval of accurate historic data will be simplified and accurate current information readily available. Students will be able to register for classes online, while alumni can update their data and track their institutional gifts online. Prospective students will be able to track the status of their application, get information online that is tailored to their unique interests, and easily make connections with faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The new system will allow Catawba to complete its own payroll rather than outsourcing, as is now the case. Information that is currently distributed or approved through manual paper processes, such as budget information and purchasing requests, can be electronically distributed and approved, saving labor and paper costs, while getting accurate information and necessary approvals to the people who need those more quickly.
On the Catawba campus, Susan Agner, Director of Administrative Computing, serves as the Banner Project Manager. She and the Banner implementation team, comprised of both technology and business functionality experts, assure that appropriate data is converted into the new enterprise system, that training occurs, and that project implementation deadlines are met.
For the First Time Ever, Catawba Students to Register Online for Fall 2011 Classes
When Catawba students register for fall 2011 classes March 28-31, they will not stand in line outside the Registrar's Office waiting for their turn to submit faculty-advisor approved class schedules. Instead, they will do things a new way — online.
Although the students will still work in tandem with their faculty advisors on fall 2011 schedules, their registration process will be streamlined thanks to another feature of the Banner system that went live in March. On March 1, Catawba's Computer Services introduced a new version of CatLink, the college community's web portal. The new version, CatLink 3.0 interfaces with Banner and allows members of the community to access information such as class schedules and grades, while also providing single sign-on access to other campus systems such as e-mail and Blackboard.
Students will consult with their faculty advisors during the weeks of March 14 and March 21, accessing their degree audits and determining which courses to take that will move them closer to graduation. Various training sessions for Advisors, Faculty and Academic Support Staff have been offered during the week of Feb. 28 in preparation for student advising and online registration that will occur later in March.
Catawba's Chief Information Officer Joanna Jasper noted the new Banner system is allowing the college to "transform the class registration process at Catawba."