The University Record, July 6 , 1999

M-Pathways expands student administration systems

By Gretchen Weir

Soon, the course of students' U-M careers will be tracked by M-Pathways systems. Photo services file photo by Bob Kalmbach.
The University has been using PeopleSoft student recruiting/admissions software to admit students since last year and, thanks to the efforts of admitting offices across campus, the transition to the new processes is almost complete. The schools of Business Administration and Dentistry will begin using the system this fall; the Medical and Law schools will start next year.

With PeopleSoft, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions admitted the 1999 freshman class by using a batch process. This new system enabled the office to select the best-qualified students during five separate admissions cycles during the fall and winter. The new approach resulted in better management of the admission process.

The new system also has made it possible for the Graduate School Admissions Office and 120 graduate departments to better coordinate their efforts. “Keeping the process well coordinated is quite a challenge,” says Monique Washington, director of graduate admissions and academic student services. “M-Pathways is valuable because it allows us to respond more quickly to prospective student needs. We also have the option to capture more data about our prospective students,” she explains, “which assists us in meeting our enrollment targets.”

Recruiters and admitting staff across campus are using the M-Pathways Data Warehouse and a new query tool, Business Objects, to produce rosters and track counts of entering students.

The M-Pathways Student Administration Team is drawing on its experience with student recruiting/admissions to introduce several additional functions over the next 10 months:

  • Curriculum—courses, classes and time schedules.

  • Student Records/Academic Advising—registration, grades, graduation, transcript production, official reporting and degree audit.

  • Financial Aid—applying for aid, establishing need, packaging aid and notifying recipients, managing loans, awarding merit aid and providing parent/student services.

  • Student Financials—fee assessment, credits, disbursement of funds, statement of accounts, reconciliation of accounts, and use of payroll to refund excess aid.

    The offices of the registrar, financial aid, student accounts and payroll will be heavily involved in the introduction of these new functions, as will staff in schools, colleges and units.

    M-Pathways: What’s Next?

    The introduction of new software to support student activities will be as large a task as the rollout of financial systems last summer, but steps are being taken to make the transition to the new system easier.

    Provost Nancy Cantor has asked that introduction of the student administration process be managed in a way that reduces the amount of change experienced initially by schools, colleges and units. Changes will be limited to features and functions that are absolutely critical to implementation in February 2000. Aspects of the new system that are not essential will be deferred for six months to a year.

    M-Pathways staff and unit liaisons across campus already are working on transition activities. “We are getting an earlier start than we did last summer with financials,” says Susan Eklund, former Law School associate dean and newly appointed lead of M-Pathways’ end user support. Project members and users alike are better aware of the kinds of questions that need to be asked.

    Here’s a tentative outline of what to expect between now and February 2000. Project members will be reviewing the schedule in the next month in an effort to reduce the impact of change on the schools, colleges and units.

    Summer ’99

  • Course information currently maintained in the University Course Database (UCDB) has been converted to PeopleSoft, and the Office of the Registrar has begun maintaining courses using M-Pathways. Schools and colleges will submit course information to the registrar on new forms that contain some new terminology. As a safety precaution, course information will be maintained in the current course database as well as in M-Pathways until March 2000.

  • The Office of the Registrar will begin to enter degree requirements into PeopleSoft for schools that currently use DARS to track degree progress.

  • Individuals in the schools and colleges who will be using the administration systems will attend specialized training after attending M-Pathways Transition Workshops.

  • Some units may have to redesign business processes because of changes the software will bring.

  • Staff involved with financial aid will define the aid types that should be incorporated in the software, and staff who are responsible for communicating with students will begin creating the standard letters that will be generated by M-Pathways.

    Fall ’99

  • Winter term 2000 class information (such as, Modern Drama 447, Section 001, from Ibsen to Brecht, lecture Monday and Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., Room G251 Angell Hall) will be entered by units using M-Pathways. Units that have decided to use Resource 25, a scheduling software that interfaces with PeopleSoft, will assign classrooms using that system. Other units may choose to assign classrooms using their shadow systems and enter the assignments in PeopleSoft.

  • Units, schools and colleges will continue to redesign processes, when necessary, to prepare for the M-Pathways transition.

    Winter 2000

  • Training will begin in January for financial aid, degree audit, student financials and student records.

  • New systems in operation as of February 2000: Student Financials (e.g., new statements), Financial Aid (e.g., merit aid for Fall 2000 and need-based aid for 2000–2001), Degree Audit (e.g., selected units will use degree-specific requirements online), and Student Records (e.g., automated registration for spring/summer/fall 2000).

  • The Student Data Warehouse will provide an up-to-date, integrated information resource for cross-campus analysis that was not possible before.

  • The University Course Database (UCDB), the Student Characteristics Database (SCDB) and the Student Accounting database will be discontinued.

  • The existing Financial Aid System (SAM) will be interfaced with M-Pathways as it completes awards and delivery for the aid year 1999–2000 (winter, spring and summer terms in 2000). Historical information on students will be located in the data warehouse.