Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, July 19, 2010

U-M to invest in international travel software programs

The university will be investing in two software systems that will facilitate better management of international experiences for U-M students and faculty. Information and Technology Services (ITS) will develop or implement the systems for campus.

The Travel Registry and Studio Abroad systems significantly will increase U-M’s ability to manage its growing portfolio of international activities, says Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs and executive sponsor for the effort. The systems will be connected to the Global Portal website,  

“This is a major step forward in terms of seeing after the health, safety and security of students and faculty studying and conducting research abroad,” Monts says. “This also puts systems in place to reflect President Mary Sue Coleman’s intentions to expand the university’s activities on a global scale.”

Travel Registry will include individual registration, group registration, itinerary summary, integration with HTH Travel Insurance, and other search and proactive communication features, and will be available through Wolverine Access.

Studio Abroad is a Web-based software application that offers one place to get a consolidated view of the education and program offerings for students, faculty and staff. It is a vendor software package for content management and program administration that is being used successfully by more than 100 campuses across the United States and currently is in use by the International Programs in Engineering Office at U-M. 

The systems will automate processes and strengthen administrative oversight while providing a cost savings for the university and reinforcing the president’s goal toward internationalism, which was U-M’s focus during the higher learning reaccreditation process, Monts says.

The collaborative technology solutions will provide critically important tools to meet the university’s mission to serve the people of the world and be a pre-eminent higher education leader in the global community, according to information provided by the Web-Info Working Group, one of the teams from the Council on Global Engagement.

The systems grew out of grass-roots efforts, with the Travel Registry developed in Rackham, and Studio Abroad is being used in the College of Engineering (CoE). An international-experience assessment was done by ITS, and the results were vetted by a number of groups on campus.

“It really took the cooperative nature of numerous entities to make it possible,” including the help of Communications Chief of Staff Lee Doyle, the Council on Global Engagement, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Dilip Das, Assistant Dean for International Education John Godfrey, Director of Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates A.T. Miller and Elaine Nowak, a product manager at ITS who has led development of the project.

The CoE implemented Studio Abroad last year to streamline program searches, applications and communications with study and work-abroad students.

“The CoE was a great place to launch the system,” says Amy Conger, director of International Programs in Engineering. “Our students responded positively to the paperless features and provided technical feedback that helped us enhance the configuration.

“I’m glad that all U-M units will have access to the system moving forward. It will be a wonderful tool for collaboration and international programs policy development across campus.”