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Seven UH community colleges go "live" with Phase 1 of new student information system

Start-to-finish 4.5-month implementation a record-breaking pace

University of Hawaiʻi
John Morton, 808/956-3501
UH SIS Project Manager
David Lassner, 808/956-3501
UH Director of Information Technology
Posted: Jul 1, 2002

The seven community colleges of the University of Hawaii system went "live" today with Phase 1 of the new UH Student Information System (SIS). Work on the project started February 15, and the quick launch represents one of the fastest-ever initial implementations of a major software package in higher education.

The SIS project represents the largest software project ever undertaken by the university. The total project budget is $20 million, to be financed over a multi-year period using new revenue generated by tuition schedules approved by the Board of Regents two years ago. The Board at that time the specified that improvements be made to the information technology infrastructure for students.

John Morton, UH SIS Project Manager, commented that "our success is due to the absolute dedication of the project team. Hardworking staff from throughout the UH system worked side-by-side with each other and with our vendor to meet every critical milestone on time."

The new UH SIS uses the Banner Student System from SCT Corporation, the leading software vendor in the higher education marketplace. Banner uses software technology from Oracle to provide colleges and universities with web-based applications that run over the Internet. SCT Banner was selected by the University this spring after an open competition for a system to support all ten UH campuses.

Beginning February 15 UH and its vendor partners developed project plans, specified systems and installed more than 25 new servers from Sun Microsystems, new software from Oracle, the Banner Student System, along with a variety of additional hardware, networking and software items. Over 280,000 community college student records were migrated to the new system, and the catalogs of all seven community colleges were put online. Hundreds of tables were configured to describe the UH system, and data from the community colleges were entered into the system to enable them to go "live" July 1. Over 350 users of the new system have been trained in its use during Banner training sessions conducted on four islands. Students, faculty and staff at the University‘s ten campuses and five education centers will connect to the central servers via the University‘s new OC-3 and gigabit Ethernet network that connects its facilities on six islands.

Phase 1 of the SIS project provides only very basic services for the seven UH community colleges on a single hardware and software platform. The accelerated initial implementation was enabled by a commitment to a "bare-bones" startup with no changes in the software unless essential for legal or regulatory compliance. However, even at that, the system includes many functions that were not previously available.

With the completion of Phase 1 the UH SIS project enters Phase 2, which will add UH Manoa, UH Hilo and UH West Oʻahu to the implementation and integrate the support for students who attend multiple campuses of the UH system over their academic careers. This will include the increasing numbers of students who concurrently enroll in courses from multiple campuses using distributed learning technologies.

UH Director of Information Technology David Lassner noted that "the consolidation of our student information systems will not only provide improved service to students and faculty as well as economies of scale over the ten older systems currently supported on our campuses, but represents a strong commitment to the use of information technology and networks to achieve President Dobelle‘s vision of a University of Hawaii System that is more than the sum of its parts."

Students will be able to register for classes at multiple campuses via the web subject only to applicable policies. Students will receive a single bill for their tuition and fees from all campuses. They will be able to have financial aid calculated based on their enrollment at all campuses, see their complete academic history from all campuses, and check whether they have completed degree requirements using the University‘s own STAR degree audit system which will be integrated with Banner.

The project will continue by rolling out new functions as required to meet the needs of the Fall 2003 student class at all ten campuses. Online applications in Fall 2002 for the Fall 2003 class will flow into Banner, financial aid packages for the Fall 2003 class will be computed in Banner in January 2003, and students will begin to register for their Fall 2003 classes using Banner in Spring 2003. The last three independent university campus systems at Manoa, Hilo and West Oahu will be retired in Fall 2003 when Banner will be in full operation.

The completed project will include not only Banner Student System, but also Banner Financial Aid and the new Campus Pipeline Luminis Portal, which will integrate Banner with the University‘s WebCT platform for web-based learning, the new Sun industrial-strength email service installed during the spring, and Sun‘s enterprise calendaring systems. Integration of these applications will permit seamless new services such as automatically adding students to their online courses when they register, providing easy ways for students and faculty to send email to their classes, and providing all members of the University community with an electronic calendar that is automatically loaded with the schedules of their classes and other University-related activities.