Project brings CSU System universities closer together by being more efficient

An ambitious project to upgrade and integrate administrative computer operations between Colorado State University and CSU-Pueblo should launch in January, after a year of planning and back-end work.

The project brings together a wide range of functions, from student information and registration to managing secure online identities for faculty and staff, onto the Banner platform, which has been in use in Fort Collins for 14 years. CSU-Pueblo has been using its own version of a student information system that did not integrate with the more robust functions available through Banner.

Not only will this integration provide new information management functionality to faculty and staff on the Pueblo campus, once Banner is in place, future opportunities may enable students from either university to access courses offered through online classes at both schools. The integrated system, the result of close collaboration by staff at both institutions, will be maintained and managed by the Information Systems department on the Fort Collins campus.

“One of our goals at the CSU System is to find new ways to collaborate and leverage expertise so that we can better serve all our students. This is a great example of how our universities together – with support at the System level – can drive major, positive changes for our campuses, students and faculty.”

Tony Frank, CSU System Chancellor

At its December meeting in Denver, the Board of Governors of the CSU approved nearly $2 million for the implementation of the joint Banner project. The board allocated $1.6 million in December 2018 to begin the project, and board member Kim Jordan expressed her approval of the progress that has been made toward the goal of strengthening the System as a whole.

“This feels like a backbone, really core,” she said. “You have to have that before you can have success in everything else.”

At the meeting, CSU-Pueblo President Tim Mottet thanked the Fort Collins team who have been working closely with the IT personnel on his campus to make the Banner implementation a reality: Registrar Chris Seng, who is lead project manager; Vice President of Enrollment and Access Leslie Taylor, and former Vice President of Information Technology Pat Burns, who is now advising CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank on continued IT upgrades for all institutions. He also acknowledged CSU President Joyce McConnell for loaning her staff to help make the project possible.

“We remain grateful for our partnership with the CSU System that is allowing us to upgrade our technology platforms, especially a new student information system,” Mottet said. “A project of this scope requires multiple teams of professionals from both the Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses collaborating to design the systems needed to maximize student services, increase operational efficiencies, and mitigate risks related to technology. Our aligned systems will allow our campuses to function more as an integrated system.”

Timeline

An essential step in deploying Banner will allow faculty and staff in Pueblo to create secure electronic identification, the eID that allows everyone on the Fort Collins campus to gain secure access to everything from human resources to posting grades for students. This process will begin in late January, according to Seng.

If all goes as planned, operations in Fort Collins should not be affected by the January transition.

The ultimate timeline calls for CSU-Pueblo students to be able to register for classes in Banner for the Fall 2021 semester, which means the student-facing portion should be fully functional by March 2021. To get there, Admissions and the registrar’s office will be live by Fall 2020; by the beginning of Fiscal Year 2022, accounts receivable will be ready to collect payments.

One of the challenges of the project, Seng said, is that each school must maintain its existing systems while the operations are in transition, but the project has the full support of everyone involved.

“The administration at both institutions and at the System level have given this the highest priority and tremendous support, and I’m confident we have the personnel to implement this solution that affords more effective and efficient operations enhancing student success, offering improved compliance and reporting, with opportunities for sharing information, students, and programs across institutions,” he said. “We are working to transform a campus and this comprehensive IT upgrade is critical to this transformation.”

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