August 2012 Archives

Internal customer service kick-off event: October 24

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The ASR Customer Service Committee is excited to announce that the Internal Customer Service Kick-off event will be held on Wednesday, October 24. This all staff event will include an introduction to a common ASR customer service philosophy and attributes of great internal service. The half-day kick-off event will take place in the Northstar Ballroom at the St. Paul Student Center (a meeting will be added to your calendar). More information regarding the event's details will be shared in the upcoming weeks.

The people in your neighborhood: Robert Bode

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Robert joined ASR a year and a half ago as a Business Process Analyst for the Graduate Education Transition team. When Robert isn't hard at work, he says he lives in "controlled chaos" with his wife and 11 children in Northeast Minneapolis.

robert bode.jpg

He has three biological and eight adopted kids who range in age from 2 to 16 years old. Several of his children have hidden disabilities from pre-birth exposure to alcohol or drugs. "The kids love having that many siblings, and the age groups tend to team up," Robert said.

And, when Robert isn't juggling 11 children at home, he provides valuable insight for the Graduate Education Transition team. He analyzes and streamlines student administrative processes in conjunction with the Graduate Student Services and Progress team. "Either the process stays within the Graduate School, or it is moved out and becomes an ASR process," Robert said. "If it become an ASR process, we work to improve it, if possible."

He is conducting much of the groundwork for the graduate progress to degree process. He has also worked on the adviser workflow and the documentation of processes for graduate student fellowships. He is currently working on implementing checklists in Campus Solutions so a graduate student can track his or her own degree progress in one place.

"We want to provide a student with a continual view of their degree progress," Robert said. "Checklists will be much more dynamic and will allow a student to see the progress of their degree as it is updated in Campus Solutions. We want to help students see their pathways to graduation."

Before joining ASR, Robert worked at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and at Metropolitan State University (St. Paul) as director of Financial Aid.

When asked what he does in his spare time, Robert joked, "What spare time?" His free moments often involve taking a few of his children out at a time to play golf or go fishing. Earlier this year, his family took a road trip to Seattle and visited Yellowstone National Park. He would love to take another trip with his kids and drive across the country.

He also enjoys watching movies with his children. "Being a father has made me a connoisseur of children's movies," Robert said. One of his kids' favorite movies is The Incredibles, which sometimes inspires fantastical thoughts. "If I were a superhero, my super power would be to control the weather," Robert said. "But 'no capes!'"

Fun facts about Robert:
1. His favorite movie is Casablanca.
2. His favorite book is Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
3. He enjoys jazz music.
4. He loves to vacation in the Boundary Waters.
5. His favorite food is the salmon at Ivar's Salmon House in Seattle.
6. Robert's first concert was Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good" tour.
7. He wanted to grow up to be a Blue Angels Navy Pilot.
8. f he could be any movie character for a day, he would be Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man.
9. His most memorable Halloween costume is when he dressed up as Indiana Jones.
10. He has a bachelor's degree in English and American literature from Brandeis University and a master of business administration from the University of St. Thomas.

Getting feedback on your performance

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Getting feedback on how you're doing at work isn't always easy. Sometimes you never hear anything until there's something wrong, and perhaps you could have prevented the incident with early feedback. Amy Gallo, a contributing editor for Harvard Business Review offers some very helpful tips on getting feedback. Her article is aimed at getting feedback when you're "the boss." However, the principles she outlines are pretty universal. You might want to check out her article and see if you can use her tips to either solicit feedback or reverse-engineer her ideas to give feedback to others.

Logging into a loaner laptop for the first time?

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You're at a meeting, your loaner laptop securely in hand. You try to log-in using your x.500 and username, just as you do with your own computer every day.

Nothing happens . . . except the message you receive telling you that a server can't be found. You panic. Or, you just get really frustrated.

If you're checking out a laptop, you'll need to download your credentials via an ethernet cable (usually that blue thing) in order to log-in. The laptop should come with one of these cables in its bag, but you can contact CITSU if you can't find one. Make sure you do this in advance of when you need the laptop so that you know it works before showtime.

The Gold Room

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The 160B meeting room in Williamson Hall now features two installations in memory of staff whose dedication to ASR, students, and the University surpass expectations.

Gold Room main.jpgExterior sign. The text says, "Dedicated to our staff whose value and contributions cannot be measured."

Gold Room names.jpgNancy Peterson and Vickie Roberts were ASR employees for many years. Nancy served as the scheduling unit manager and Vickie was the director of academic records. Both Nancy and Vickie passed away in 2011.

New conference rooms in Williamson

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The work to create two rooms out of the 160L room in Williamson is complete, and you can now schedule them in GCal. The room names are WmsonH-162 ASR and WmsonH-164 ASR. Any meetings that were scheduled in 160L that haven't been updated to a different location will be located in WmsonH-162 ASR.

Lock up your stuff!

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Now is the time of year when valuables might decide to take a long walk, never to return. Make sure you lock up your phones, purses, galoshes, and anything else that might find its way into another person's possession. If you have a laptop in an open cube, you should lock that away in the evenings, if possible. Keep your stuff safe!

The people in your neighborhood: Phil Hunter

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Ever wonder what your co-worker does for fun or what they were doing before they came to ASR? Get the scoop on your ASR colleagues with our new individual profiles--The People in your Neighborhood. We present you Philip Hunter from the Office of Classroom Management (OCM).

Eleven years ago, Phil Hunter began working in OCM. He started out by "inspecting rooms and putting out fires," but he soon advanced to Operations Coordinator.

Phil supervises classroom activity and proactively resolves issues in classrooms, such as replacing and repairing furniture. "One of the big issues we've found is markers," Phil said. "If the custodians haven't placed markers in rooms, we hear about it. We try to get our service providers to look at our classrooms as a system. If one part fails the others are affected."

phil hunter.jpg

Phil also hires, trains, and supervises the OCM student staff and manages the room features database. Since joining OCM, Phil has served on the Development Team and as the lead on the Recognition Team.

Phil grew up in the Black Hills of Rapid City, South Dakota. "It's a tourist city, so basically everyone works in the tourism industry in one way or another," Phil said. He was no exception and has held a string of interesting jobs.

Growing up, his dad owned a motel called the "Lazy U" where Phil worked as a stripper. "I was the first one to go in the rooms and get them ready for the maid to clean," Phil explained. "I stripped the sheets and prepped the room." He even added his own touch to the tourism industry by developing a tourist map that listed all of the area's hotspots based on how many days people were in town.

He also once worked at a toy store. "It was an interesting job; I liked helping the customers, but a lot of people that worked there were really bitter," Phil said. "You'd think people in a toy store would be happy."

After a string of odd jobs, Phil received his bachelor's in speech communication and theatre from South Dakota State University. Seeking creative outlets, Phil did musical theatre, once playing Mr. Applegate in Damn Yankees. Eventually, he got bored with scripts and began doing improv and interactive theatre.

Phil's creativity is also seen in his work. Phil helped develop the student monitoring program that OCM uses to monitor the daily activity in each classroom. And, though he loves working in OCM, his dream job would be doing voice overs, which he currently records, along with music, in his in-home recording studio that he calls Nochy Mozg, which loosely translates to "reptile brain."

Phil is also working on writing a young adult novel, that he describes as "a fantasy/Spanish folklore adventure story that deals with the role of fate in our lives and the grey area between good and evil."

Currently, Phil lives in West St. Paul with his wife of 16 years, Jody, and his two kids, Adaline and Philip John (P.J.). He has a 16-year-old cat named Stein (originally paired with Frank before he passed away) and two new kittens named Snickers and Meep.

Fun Phil Facts:

If he could be any character for a day, Phil would be Groucho Marx and/or Darth Vader.
His favorite vacation spot is Yellowstone National Park during the off season.
He would love to visit Peru to see the Incan ruins.
His first concert was the Styx in 9th grade.
He likes the type of music played on The Current radio station.
His favorite author is Haruki Murakami.
His favorite movie is Spirited Away.
He likes to garden.
Harry Nilsson is one of his favorite singer/songwriters.
He did theatre, most often playing an older person or the funny sidekick.

Gearing up for the start of fall

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The Office of Student Finance (OSF) worked with ASR-IT and others to send communications to all financial aid recipients informing them to accept their financial aid awards online. OSF has seen an increase in verification and loan documents as students get ready for the new year.

Student Account Assistance staff are busy working on appeals for registration cancellations, the exit interview project, and the move of Third Party Billing to Williamson Hall.

Now that eFAANs have gone out to students, One Stop's phone and email customer traffic has doubled and will continue to increase through September. Last week, counselors answered 2,159 calls and 1,870 emails. Walk-in traffic will significantly increase later in August. One Stop staff are also hard at work finishing up orientation and Welcome Week preparations.

Here's a brief snapshot of some of the happenings in the Office of Classroom Management (OCM):

  • OCM and ASR-IT are negotiating the scope and timeline of a new project to implement a new, web-based scheduling system for all campuses.
  • Classroom Technical Services is busy updating classroom equipment before the start of fall semester. Approximately 50 rooms are being updated (a project that began in March).
  • Room B50 in Skok Hall is under construction to be a new study space available in fall 2012.

Better know the Web Team

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The Academic Support Resources (ASR) Web Team juggles many different tasks and projects, but they do it so seamlessly that you would never guess the amount of work they actually do. They are responsible for supporting a wide variety of business processes across ASR, from helping students search for scholarships and approving graduate committees, to consulting with One Stop on how to expand their queue management.

webTeam1.jpg From left to right: Erik Eklund, Joe Goggins, Chris Dinger, Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez (now part of the Project Management & Coordination unit), Kim Doberstein. Matt Nuttall is the creepy guy on the monitor.

The Web Team focuses on tasks that are unique to ASR or that cannot be addressed as an enterprise solution by the Office of Information Technology (OIT). They look for ways to provide programming solutions that will help support access to important information. They've been working to decrease the time it takes to gather fresh data (e.g., student APAS information), which makes it easier and faster to share critical information with other departments such as Student Records, Classroom Management, and Student Finance.

To keep up with so many projects, the team started scheduling daily check-ins. Every morning around 9:00 a.m., the staff meets in the hallway to go over the day's agenda. Web Team Manager, Matt Nuttall, said they address the following three questions: "What have you accomplished since yesterday? What will you accomplish by this time tomorrow? And what barriers stand in your way?" These morning meetings help the team to assess where they're at among their different tasks and to prioritize the day ahead.

ASR has hundreds of processes, and the Web Team constantly searches for ways to help simplify and automate them. For example, right now the team is finishing their work on the Tuition and Fee Management System. As they work with the Office of Student Finance (OSF), they will re-engineer how the University proposes and approves class fees and tuition; by the time their work is complete, they will have made it easier and more efficient to manage the allocation and collection of hundreds of millions of dollars.

As web developers, it's easy to assume that coding is a major part of the their work. But, in fact, it's really a last resort. Since code is very expensive to re-write if security issues arise, the team only codes when absolutely necessary. "We focus on using resources that are already available," Matt said.

Though the workload can be demanding, the team is dedicated to providing the best service they can. "We're all passionate about what we do and the mission of ASR," Web Developer Chris Dinger said. Co-worker Joe Goggins agrees, saying that this is the first place he has worked at where he truly understands and stands behind the organization's mission.

At the end of the day, it's all about making the lives of students and staff easier. "There's nothing more satisfying," Joe said, "than someone saying, 'You changed how I do what I do.'"

One Stop mentioned in live chat with President Kaler

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In late July, the Star Tribune held a live chat with President Eric Kaler. Someone asked the president: "My son is attending The U this fall. My two other children and I are Purdue grads. My son won the Navy ROTC Scholarship to The U. Any suggestions for freshman parents? We love the campus!"

Another live chatter responded to the question: "As a former parent, your student should utilize the One Stop. It was clearly one of the better perks at the U for students to enable them to 'figure questions out' on their own (but with guidance)."

"Live Like a Student" wins Apex Award

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The "Live Like a Student" (LLAS) financial literacy campaign received the Apex Award for Publication Excellence in the presentation category. The award was in recognition of LLAS's Welcome Week presentation, which featured a "game show" aimed at helping students make smart money choices and a PowerPoint highlighting free or cheap deals.

About this Archive

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

July 2012 is the previous archive.

September 2012 is the next archive.

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