The biggest challenge for the University of Rochester has been our 30-year-old student information system, which is why we are providing design input as Workday builds something different—Workday Student. While our current system has served us well, I liken it to an electronic file cabinet—it stores data, but I can’t search or use the data effectively. The breadth and depth of our service delivery has grown, but the system itself can’t. As a result, we have had to bolt on nearly 200 systems—from admission applications to degree audits—to get what we need, which has been labor and financially intensive. We have a remarkable team of programmers who handle integrations with the system, but people with mainframe-based skills are now few and far between and many of our current team members are eligible for retirement. It can take up to two years for someone to really understand how the system is put together, so this creates a huge challenge for us.
How did you become interested in Workday Student?
When I was hired by the University of Rochester to manage a student system implementation, we did not have the resources or financial and executive support for a full implementation, so we ended up spending the first five to seven years bolting on applications for the capabilities we needed. This was not sustainable, so the registrar’s office partnered with IT and made a strong argument that a system change was needed.
When we were approached by Dave Duffield to be part of the design team for Workday Student, I was a true skeptic. Now, I am the biggest cheerleader. I have looked at every other solution out there, both internationally and in the U.S., and believe that even the most modern ones are already 20 years old. Workday’s approach is forward thinking, and our conversations with the company are focused on how we would like to see a student system work versus how it is currently working for us. I believe that together, we are really moving the needle forward on student information systems.
What skills do you think today’s university registrar needs to have?
First and foremost, a university registrar needs sophisticated communication skills; able to communicate with every constituency whether in person or in writing. A registrar also needs a fairly deep understanding of information technology and its impact. I often serve as a facilitator between the technologists and the end users, making the case for certain technology advances and their importance. A registrar also needs to be able to do basic research, such as statistical evaluation, and develop reports and data in a way that helps leadership teams make decisions.
Want to hear what customers are saying about Workday Student Recruiting? Read “Workday Student Recruiting Customers Speak on Goals, Challenges, and Results.”