April 2012 Archives

BA BA doctorate, have you any rules?

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The end of the term is the time we say a fond farewell to the students who have completed their studies at the U. Not only are they leaving with knowledge and experience, they are leaving with at least a couple of extra letters to their name...but how do we format those letters? The Chicago Manual of Style (the University's go-to reference) recommends omitting the periods in abbreviations of academic degrees (e.g., BA, MS, PhD). Additionally, just as terms that indicate student status should be lowercased (e.g., sophomore, senior), so should names of degrees (e.g., master's degree, a doctorate).

The communications team has a new email

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Need a communicator? Just email the communications team at asrcomm@umn.edu. You can still use the communications request system on the ASR website to open a ticket if you wish, but just sending an email to this account will open a ticket for you in two shakes. The team created this account in anticipation of the impending transition to ServiceNow, but you can start using it right away.

Quick as a flash! Registration statistics

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Despite some bumps with system performance, registration statistics were lightning fast. More than 99 percent of registration transactions were completed in under 3 seconds. During high volume days, over 38,000 transactions were completed. The improved performance is due in part to the recent Exadata upgrade.

An update from the Customer Service Team

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The cross-functional team charged with creating a customer service training program for all ASR staff has presented an outline of the proposed program to the project sponsor (Julie Selander) and continues to refine the specifics of the training. In addition, the team is actively working to identify speakers to address some specific parts of the program, including a unified set of customer service expectations. Next steps include finalizing the program, getting sign-off from the directors, and selecting a date for the training.

Get to know the ASR Directors

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Every Wednesday, the seven Academic Support Resources (ASR) directors meet to update each other on pending issues and collaborate on upcoming and ongoing projects.

The directors_smaller.jpg

The ASR Manager's Meeting is meant to keep each director from the six units and Sue Van Voorhis, director of ASR and University registrar, informed of what is happening in ASR. They meet for two hours every week, except for the last week of the quarter when they meet for four hours to strategize a plan of action on upcoming projects or talk more in-depth about the strategic direction of ASR.

When examining current and upcoming projects, the Directors keep in mind ASR's mission of making a positive difference in students' lives.

"This helps focus resources on those initiatives or changes that have the greatest impact on our students," said Tina Falkner, director of Continuity and Compliance. "For example, the changes in the Graduate School have afforded us the opportunity to focus more energy on articulating how proposed projects and process changes have an impact on graduate and professional students."

Much of the discussion in their meetings revolves around shared projects that affect multiple, if not all, units in ASR. The projects may be mandated, recurring, or simply a way to make a process more efficient and up-to-date.

"A lot of projects are given to us and we find solutions, like the PeopleSoft 9.0 upgrade or the Graduate School Transition," said Kris Wright, director of the Office of Student Finance (OSF).

Grant Clavelle, director of ASR's information technology unit, (ASR-IT) also cites the information technology job family study and policy effectiveness discussions as mandated projects.

Some projects are recurring. For example, each quarter the directors review and prioritize the pending technology projects that require central resources from the Office of Information Technology (OIT).

Each director has a long list of projects he or she would like completed for their unit. Oftentimes, they have more than 70 projects in the hopper. To determine which one to start on, the directors focus on the potential impact each project has on students, staff, and faculty.

"We look at how to help students and make our processes more efficient for all that are affected," Julie Selander said, interim director of One Stop Student Services.

One of the primary challenges the directors face in collaborating on current projects is fairly universal throughout ASR: limited resources, especially staffing and time. Because there are so many projects, prioritization becomes a critical aspect of these meetings.

The projects that have the greatest impact across ASR and provide the greatest benefit to students get the most attention. Solutions to the projects are reached through constructive conversation. As the leader of ASR, Sue is in the tough position to make the final decision if there is no consensus, though an agreement is almost always reached.

"We almost always come to an agreement by using ASR's mission, vision, and values to guide our decision making," said Sue. "These were created in collaboration with staff. We think about how to best benefit students, faculty, and staff."

In addition to using the mission, vision, and values, employee surveys are done frequently to get more direct feedback and ensure staff input on future ASR directions.

"We're not just sitting in a room making these decisions. We want staff's input," said Jeremy Todd, director of the Office of Classroom Management.

Fun facts about the ASR Directors

Sue Van Voorhis, ASR
As a higher education professional who has spent 25 years in the sector, Sue possesses leadership skills utilized in various practices: as a processor, an information technology practitioner, and a university director.

Sue's leadership skills have been prominent since the first grade. She ran for class president and was elected on the platform that on Friday afternoons, students should be allowed to sit wherever they want in class. Sue's leadership skills may also stem from some political genetics; her mother was a state senator, her third cousin, David Durenberger, is a former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and her cousin, Collin Peterson, is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 7th congressional district. Sue enjoys a challenge and always wants people to feel gratified in their work.

Jeremy Todd, Office of Classroom Management (OCM)
Jeremy received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University. He joined ASR in 2002, coming from an engineering position in Facilities Management (FM). He believes we have made great strides as an institution and firmly believes in our mission to make a positive difference in students' lives.

Jeremy's favorite experience working at the University happened in 2007 when the pilot Active Learning Classrooms (ALC) were installed. He visited the Keller Hall ALC during a two-hour break between scheduled courses. Expecting the room to be empty, Jeremy was surprised to find the room near capacity with groups of students collaborating together while using the technology and room features.

A fun fact about Jeremy: he doesn't drink coffee, but has a slight addiction to Coca-Cola.

Kris Wright, OSF
Kris is an experienced operations manager and project manager with more than 25 years of experience managing and improving automated and manual accounting processes and financial systems. Previously, she worked for the United States Postal Service in accounting and operations. Kris joined ASR in 2001 as an Associate Director in OSF. She became the Director in 2002.

She has two dogs: an 8-year-old golden retriever, Sparky, and a 2-year-old chocolate lab, Moose. She enjoys a broad range of books from science fiction to musical instruments. She is also an avid gardener and was a master gardener for five years. Kris has been to every continent except Antarctica, but hopes to go there one day.

Grant Clavelle, ASR-OIT
Grant has been the director of ASR-OIT since 2006. Previously, Grant worked in FM, assisting with selecting, implementing, and supporting their major business system, COMPASS. Grant has always worked in the computer industry since his first job out of school selling computers.

Grant was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He moved to the U.S. in 1984 and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. He is a dual American/Canadian citizen. He enjoys sports, walking, reading, vegetable gardening, and traveling. He currently lives in Champlin with his wife as an empty nester. He has two sons, one working in Phoenix and the other attending school at St. John's University.

Julie Selander, One Stop Student Services
Julie received her bachelor's and master's degree from the University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the higher education policy and administration program. She passed her preliminary oral exam last year and now needs to research/write her dissertation.

Julie has worked at the University for 12 years and has been the interim director for One Stop Student Services since May 2011. Previously, she was the Senior Associate Director for One Stop and the Associate Director for Student Accounts Receivable. Julie has also been an adjunct faculty member in the College of Education and Human Development for two years where she teaches customer service training for business and marketing education students.

Other than work, Julie and her husband, Steven, have two kids: Spencer, 10, and Emma, 8. Julie enjoys scrapbooking, playing tennis, and traveling.

Tina Falkner, Continuity and Compliance
Tina has her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. She received her master's and Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration from the University. Tina and her husband live in a house built in 1906 and, as an avid "do-it-yourselfer," there is no end to her house projects. When not working inside the house, she works in her gardens or plays golf. Her earliest memory of television is the Muppet Show, which she is still known to watch on occasion.

Frank Blalark, Office of the Registrar (OTR)
Frank grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and was active in football, track, and wrestling. His dad was an all-American wrestler. With a football scholarship, he attended college in South Dakota and obtained a degree in history and education. Frank is also a doctoral student in the educational policy and administration program in the College of Education and Human Development.

Risk recalibration

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At the request of President Kaler, units across the University have been identifying issues involving excessive policies, procedures, or practices that are intended to avoid low-level risk. ASR identified 29 matters that are potential candidates, ranging from a central location for indicating a degree candidate, to re-examining the non-degree pre-pay process. Ultimately, Provost Hanson will select which of the proposed ideas ASR will tackle.

Improving emergency procedures

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Fraser and Williamson emergency procedures are woefully out of date. Debbie Henderson (for Williamson) and Mara Schnieder (for Fraser) will be pulling together teams from both buildings to map out how staff can be prepared if an emergency arises. The other ASR locations already have more current emergency procedures. If you haven't already done so, take the time to familiarize yourself with the procedures for your building (if you don't know where to start, contact your manager).

Provost Hanson's "Campus Conversation"

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On April 17, Provost Karen Hanson held an open question and answer session with the campus community. As she fielded questions from the audience, Provost Hanson touched on several issues directly related to the work of ASR. She spoke of the University's use of technology in classrooms, especially our innovation with STSS and the growing topic of eLearning. She also briefly mentioned the proposal for a summer semester and the financial aid hurdles that will need to be addressed if we want to make this a reality (along with a host of other issues). Our own Julie Selander asked about strategies for cost containment for students; Provost Hanson highlighted the importance of growing our gift aid through increased philanthropic dollars. It is clear she understands the pressures on the University and has started exploring some ideas for resolving them. The conversation was videotaped and I encourage you to watch it.

Get to know Classroom Technical Services

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When general purpose classrooms in Carlson School of Management needed renovation, the updated equipment and maintenance was provided by Classroom Technical Services (CTS). When the Science Teaching & Student Services (STSS) building was in development, CTS created the technology design and installed the Active Learning Classrooms (ALC), featuring student-centered, integrated, active-learning spaces. When thousands of hoodie-wearing marchers rallied in support of Trayvon Martin through Northrop Plaza on March 29, the microphones and other equipment used to make the event a success were provided by CTS.


If you've ever requested audio visual and classroom technology services, chances are one of the 19 employees in CTS has helped you. Shortly after the Office of Classroom Management (OCM) was formed in 2000, CTS (formerly called Media Resources Engineering) made the move to Academic Support Resources.

Though other universities and colleges have similar departments, CTS has one of the largest in the United States. Their work has been highlighted in various national magazines, including AVTechnology in 2008 and Architecture Minnesota in 2011.

CTS provides classroom technology for departments and colleges on the Twin Cities and coordinate campuses. They also install, design, and program presentation technology and produce digital signage for all campuses. The CTS Event Services unit also provides technician support and rents equipment for events on the Twin Cities campus and surrounding areas.

CTS is a unique unit amongst ASR units because it functions as an Internal Service Organization (ISO) that charges fees for its services and receives no funding from the University. As a result, all their costs must be covered by revenue produced through the technical services they provide.

"It's a challenge maintaining the budget and keeping up with current technology," said Larry Gilbertson, production manager. "We feel intense pressure to generate sales. If there are no sales, it leads to layoffs."

As a result of its ISO status, Engineering Manager Ray Troyer says the close-knit staff are very interdependent on each other as their workload continues to expand. "We have maintained the same amount of staff we had when we were doing half of our current workload," Ray said.

There is no other organization on campus that provides similar services as CTS, but there is competition with external vendors. "We have a leg-up on external vendors because we can respond faster since we're on campus already," Larry said. "Customer service is critical for our survival."

CTS works with individual customer departments and University project managers on a regular basis to implement presentation technology, spreading into all locations on campus from large lecture halls to small conference rooms and even the Regents Boardroom. Providing faculty and staff with a reliable system that is easy to use and maintain is paramount to CTS success.

CTS provides technology to all OCM classrooms, as well as other instructional spaces, video conference, and meeting rooms, totaling around 750 spaces. OCM is the biggest client as well as their parent department.

"I'm proud of the fact that what we do enhances learning for students," Ray said.

Once the equipment is provided to the client, CTS also offers preventative maintenance on the system. OCM monitors the condition of classroom technology using the Classroom Automated Monitoring System (CAMS). These connect to a monitoring station in 160 Williamson Hall that are viewed throughout the day in case an error occurs with any system. This monitoring system also prevents theft of equipment. In 2011, most of the general purpose classrooms were monitored by CAMS.

Classroom Technical Services Staff:
Larry Gilbertson, production manager
Ray Troyer, engineering manager
Wanda Marsolek, audiovisual operations manager
Zak Manuszak, business manager
Mike Leech, senior engineer
Charles Bottemiller, senior engineer
Jim Fisk, engineer
Jason Knutson, associate engineer
David Silvernale, inventory control specialist
Joel Westacott, events technician
Darren Tolson, presentation technology installer
Chris Bray, presentation technology installer
David Swanson, presentation technology installer
Diego Garcia, presentation technology installer
Jade Woltman, IT support tech
Eric Topping, technical services representative
June Ursel, accountant
Regan Mock-Nelson, purchasing agent
Rita Rocheford, delivery service driver

Interview questions:

Tell me more about some of your more memorable installations or clients.

Some of the larger projects that we have done include:

Audiovisual systems in Science Teaching & Student Services
- General purpose classrooms in Hanson Hall
- General purpose classroom renovations in Carlson School of Management
- Audiovisual systems in the Nicholson Hall renovation
- The additions to the McNamara Alumni Center (including remodeling some of the original spaces)
- The ITV systems installed in the old Sostanza area of Moos Tower for Academic Health Center
- The Dentistry Simulation Lab on the 4th floor of Moos Tower

How do you enhance the learning environment for students?
The simplest answer is to make the systems easy to use. In general, if you know how to operate any given classroom, you can easily learn to operate them all. This lessens the burden on the instructor. System reliability (in the design and in the method of installation) and the way the classrooms are monitored (which helps reduce downtime), mean the systems are ready for use.

Reviewing the Fit/Gaps

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The ASR directors are engaging our college and coordinate campus partners in reviewing the fit/gaps in preparation for the PeopleSoft 9.0 upgrade. A "fit/gap" is an analysis to determine to what extent the functionality of a new system (in this case, the new version of PeopleSoft) "fits" our business needs and processes; the "gaps" are noted as differences between the new functionality and the way we do things now. A gap isn't always a bad thing. Our goal for this next upgrade is to be strategic about the modifications we choose to implement with the upgrade. Reducing modifications will result in better support for the system and cost (and time) savings, especially during future upgrades.

May Moodle meddling

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OIT will upgrade Moodle 2.0 to Moodle 2.2 on Sunday, May 13 between 6 a.m. and noon. This means Moodle will be unavailable for a time during this maintenance window. More details are available on OIT's website.

Senator Franken, Governor Dayton, and student debt

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On April 9, University President Eric Kaler, Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Al Franken, and Office of Higher Education director Larry Pogemiller engaged University students and others in a round table discussion about college affordability and financial literacy. The chat took place in STSS and was followed by a tour of One Stop Student Services. One Stop's Julie Selander and Vice Provost and Dean Bob McMaster also showed the group an active learning classroom and University Veterans Services. Julie briefly explained ASR's "Live Like a Student Now So You Don't Have To Later" financial literacy campaign; according to Julie, Senator Franken, "got a kick out of the name." Well doggone it, the Senator likes us.

Julie with important people.jpg
Getting the lay of the land in STSS

Workflow Gen software now an enterprise solution

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The purchase of Workflow Gen as an enterprise software solution was completed at the end of March. This means there will be central support for Workflow Gen. Why does this matter? ASR has already invested heavily in the tool. Some examples of Workflow Gen projects include Classroom Management's form to request a non-standard meeting pattern; the graduate student registration exceptions request; and our very own professional development request form.

The Workflow Consortium (in which ASR plays a key role) will serve as an active user group and the business owner for the product.

New Fraser digs and an update from OSF

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The student finance gurus in Fraser Hall have some new paint, carpet, and gently loved furniture (courtesy of the University of Minnesota Foundation) to brighten their work spaces. Staff are hard at work packaging for the summer, and work on the new Tuition and Fee Management System continues; the "old" system is still in use for time being. Finally, the new exit interview application should be live before July 1, 2012. If all goes well, staff will no longer need to provide in-person counseling at Grad Fest.

News & Notes received a personal tour of the new space, conducted by OSF's very own Deb Wilkin. Deb is responsible for the pictures you are about to enjoy.

Ruanne and Deb.jpg Ruanne Pearson, Deb Wilkin, and The Stooges solve a particularly pesky problem.

Copier.jpgDeb wanted to make sure the new color copier got its due recognition.

Todd.jpgTodd Bierbrauer basks in his sunny new digs.

jim and brian.jpgJim Parker and Brian Olson follow Deb's direction and have a fake conversation.

Christopher and Richard.jpg Christopher Peterson "shames" Richard Toetschinger into posing for the camera.

Regina.jpg Regina Moran plays "Jenga."

Where do you want to go?

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At the last ASR-IT meeting, staff in attendance participated in an activity where they indicated their favorite travel location, and the place where they would most like to go but haven't been yet. These locations are now available on a Google map. Want to see yourself on the map? Just fill out this quick form and your travel favorites and dreams will be added.

Sprummer cleaning day on June 7

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"Sprummer" is the in-between of spring and summer. It's the brunch of seasons. Anyway, the next ASR office cleaning half-day will be held June 7. More information about the available recycling and garbage bins will be forthcoming.

Securing your computer is just as important as locking up your purse, phone, or treats that you don't want anyone else to eat. Don't forget to lock your computer when you leave your work station. Just hit the Windows logo key and the "L" if you're a PC. If you're a Mac, it's Shift-Command-Option-Q.

Three semesters (more thoughts from the president)

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Since the last issue of News & Notes, President Kaler shared his thoughts on his proposed three semester plan in a message to University staff and faculty. In it, the president stresses his vision that a third semester will promote flexibility in the schedules of both students and faculty.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2012 is the previous archive.

May 2012 is the next archive.

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