Boston College's new Student Services organization successfully passed its first major test - spring registration period - and University administrators predict that the recently implemented system will operate even more efficiently in the future.
According to Student Services Director Louise Lonabocker, the organization's streamlined, one-stop service approach, and use of World Wide Web and other computer technology, combined to ease a traditionally chaotic time for undergraduates.
"Centralizing student services was a huge improvement for the students and their families," said Lonabocker. "In past years, you would always see the students' faces fall when you told them that they had to go from Lyons Hall down to More Hall to resolve their student account.
"Now, we are providing services from one common location and the students are not being bounced around to complete the enrollment process," she said.
Student Services, located in Lyons Hall, was created through Project Delta, the broad-based effort to improve service within the University. Merging the functions of Student Accounts, Financial Aid, Student Loans, University Registrar and other offices, Student Services also provides service for areas such as student dining accounts, parking stickers and identification cards.
Lonabocker said that the majority of students selected their courses for the fall semester by using a computer to log onto the University's Agora system. By posting course descriptions and class information on the Agora World Wide Web site, Lonabocker said, the University stands to realize significant savings in future printing costs.
"We will probably print only half the catalogues that we have in recent years," she said, pointing to stacks of course listings that were left unused by students who opted to make their class selections online. "Students are clearly looking toward the Web site for their service transactions."
April is one of the busiest months of the year for Student Services, Lonabocker said, noting that the office was responsible for conducting exit interviews for graduating students with loans, staffing admission open house programs for prospective freshmen and answering related financial aid queries, and overseeing course registration activities for currently enrolled students.
"We hope to work on improving our telephone answering queue," Lonabocker said. "We were able to identify the eight peak days for telephone calls in April and have doubled the number of people handling the queue. By the end, we were averaging a one-minute wait."
Lonabocker noted that a periodic recorded announcement will be added to the telephone answering system in the future to inform callers that they are still connected and estimate the waiting time before the call is answered by a service representative.
Another key enhancement will be the renovation of Lyons Hall, Lonabocker said, which will begin during Commencement Week and is scheduled to end during the first week in August. Computer workstations will be installed in the foyer outside Welch Dining Hall to facilitate student transactions, while the reconstructed first-floor lobby will feature glass doors to provide "a contemporary, but at the same time, classic look," she said.
"We want to have a welcoming environment," Lonabocker added.
The majority of Student Services staff will be housed temporarily in Vanderslice Hall while construction is in progress. Academic records and transcripts will move to the second floor of Lyons for the summer months, she noted.
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