Students may dial a D.C. phone number for help with their Colonial Cash, but chances are a Student Accounts Office representative 30 miles away at GW’s Virginia Campus is answering their calls.
GW administrative offices including SAO, Information Systems and Services, Payroll Services and Student Financial Assistance are gradually moving their headquarters from the Foggy Bottom campus to the Virginia Campus in Loudoun County.
“The added benefit is space. We have a limited amount of space (in Foggy Bottom),” said Lou Katz, the executive vice president and treasurer. “The administrative functions that do not need to be on our campus, we’re moving them to Loudoun.”
Katz said the University is able to move many of its offices to the Virginia Campus because of its use of Documentum/Banner software. The software digitizes important documents making files easily retrievable and allowing the Virginia campus to carry out important functions in connection with the Foggy Bottom campus. GW began using this software during the last academic year.
“The goal of all of this is that we’re going to automate what they’re doing so they can communicate in a better way,” he said. “How we used to shuttle information around is done in a different way when you automate it.”
He added that office space for various on-campus services is moving to the Virginia campus because GW’s leases were expiring on many of the Foggy Bottom-buildings currently rented for administrative use.
“With the leases up and cheaper University land in Virginia, we moved stuff slowly out there,” Katz said. “We’re not doing all this at one time because that is a major undertaking.”
Some offices began relocating as early as 2004. Payroll offices moved in November of 2004 and Student Accounts Offices moved a portion of its operations one month later.
Katz said more offices will continue to move out of Foggy Bottom buildings to the Virginia campus in upcoming months, including Financial Aid and some administrative offices located in the Marvin Center.
“One of the promises we made to the students is to move the administrative offices that don’t need to be in the Marvin Center out of the Marvin Center,” Katz said.
Some GW employees who now commute to Loudoun County for work said they are happy with their new offices.
“The facilities were an upgrade,” said Robert Kershner, director of Student Accounts. “We have more space and we’re able to expand our call center to be able to staff with part-time help during busy periods.”
Kershner said the move was a great idea and allowed SAO the opportunity to improve customer service. Initially, they had to deal with staff turnover due to the re-location of the office, but Kershner said replacing staff did not affect the operations of the office.
Katz said some of the offices experienced high employee turnover because workers were unable or unwilling to commute to Loudoun County.
Jim Montgomery, manager of Payroll Services at GW, said his office had few problems with re-staffing and moving.
“We lost some people but we were able to replace them,” Montgomery said. “It didn’t really cause us any major problems with getting payroll out. It sort of went flawlessly as far as the move and getting people replaced.”
Eric Roper contributed to this report.