The academic records unit in the Office of the Registrar (OTR) on the St. Paul campus is a busy team. They provide oversight of all student academic records, including change of college, special exams, dual degree, degree application and clearance, and degree verification. The department also manages the ordering and processing of transcripts and diplomas for the entire University. It's a big job. A staggering 69,000 transcripts and 15,500 diplomas are processed each year.
The team's aim is to simplify and facilitate critical academic and business processes. "One project we're working on is streamlining the degree clearance process for graduate and professional programs by using the PeopleSoft degree clearance pages," said Emily Holt, business analyst. "This will eliminate the need for paper clearances to be routed from the program to OTR and will expedite posting of a student's degree."
The unit recently launched a new electronic transcript ordering and delivery system, Avow. The system, which went live February 8, 2012, allows students to order transcripts more quickly and provides an official electronic copy as a certified PDF. "The system is available for all students, former or current, from all University of Minnesota campuses," Emily said. "It does not require an Internet ID and password to create an order, and it has allowed the University to centralize transcript orders from all campuses to the Twin Cities."
In the coming months, the unit will tackle ways to streamline the Change of College process for students. Since the current application is on paper, the goal is to automate it. This will benefit both students and staff.
The department is also part of the ongoing university-wide Graduate School restructuring initiative, as well as a redesign project related to the setup of courses and classes in PeopleSoft. "The outcome is to improve the quality of data to ensure that end users have clear definitions and intuitive codes when adding information in ECAS and ECS," Emily said.
The office also works closely with the National Student Clearinghouse to verify degree awards. Because many prospective employers now verify a student's educational information, it is critical that the office provide accurate and timely information to the Clearinghouse.
The office has been involved in verifying records of students that are sometimes less than honest. "The weirdest situation was when we were asked to verify a transcript that a prospective employee had provided as proof of earning a bachelor's degree in nursing," Emily said. "Every single course subject on the transcript was nursing, but the best part was the master's and PhD courses they included."
Though the workload can be demanding, the team takes time to relax and have fun, too. "The environment is really a community atmosphere; we're like a family," said Director of Academic Records Frank Blalark. "We meet for breakfast once a term and have potlucks."
Pam Dutchin, executive operations/student services specialist, said people struggle to grasp the scope of work that the team performs. "People would be surprised to know what we actually do, and the amount of what we do," she said.
And there's no room for error. "The biggest challenge for the office is the pressure of accuracy, because we're responsible for the student's record," Emily said.
But, Emily, who has been at the University for nearly 27 years, said the unique interactions she has daily with students, faculty, and staff make the job worthwhile. "I enjoy being part of the University community and working with a wide variety of people," she said. "It's more than just the paycheck and benefits."
Academic Records Staff:
Frank Blalark, Director of Academic Records
Robert Bode, Business Process Analyst
Emily Holt, Business Analyst
Sue Johnson, Functional Analyst
Heather McLaughlin, Business Process Analyst
Brenda Stutelberg, Info Tech Specialist
Colleen Brooks, Executive Oper/Stud Svs Spec
Pam Dutchin, Executive Oper/Stud Svs Spec
Kathleen Georges, Executive Oper/Stud Svs Spec
Bill Jabas, Executive Oper/Stud Svs Spec
Robbie Levine, Executive Oper/Stud Svs Spec
Deborah Pommer, Executive Oper/Stud Svs Spec
Barbara Yungers, Executive Oper/Stud Svs Spec
Sarah Johnson, Student Support Services Asst
Janet Powell, Student Support Services Asst