Task force to choose degree audit system

A top administrator said last week that a degree audit system – which many say will dramatically improve GW’s academic advising – is finally on its way.

Jeffrey Lenn, associate vice president for academic operations, said a task force has been created to choose the software for the degree audit system, which saves time and resources by automatically analyzing a student’s progress toward his or her degree.

“We are organizing a blue-ribbon task force,” Lenn said. “The task force will be representative of key stakeholders who will take responsibility for the implementation of the system.”

Landon Wade, director of academic advising in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said his office has been in support of a proposed degree audit system for a number of years.

“We have been asking for a degree audit system since 2000,” Wade said. “We think it would be a great self-serving system for faculty and students.”

Wade said the proposed system would leave undergraduate advisers with more time to devote to actual interactions with students.

“Rather than students spending hours making balance sheets with advisers, we could do more programming and outreach,” he said.

Lenn said a focus group that included faculty, staff and students met last year to discuss software options that might meet the needs of GW’s complicated requirement system.

“We used this group to look specifically at what they needed and expected from a degree audit system,” Lenn said. “You can put together a pure vanilla degree audit system which gives you straight information, but we are looking at a system which is more robust and that gives students more options.”

Lenn said the group finalized a report on software options last June and is negotiating with software vendors before the program can move forward.

“There is a preferred software program, but negotiations are still ongoing with the vendor,” Lenn said, adding that the first rollout of the system will only include undergraduate students. “We’ve decided we will focus initially only on undergraduates because the graduates are just so complex.”

Jason Lifton, executive vice president of the Student Association, said the SA passed a resolution last spring to ensure that the University makes the degree audit system a priority.

“The University said it is going to take a number of years and the SA is continuing to make sure the University holds up to that promise,” Lifton said. “It’s not an immediate solution to the problem, but it is a solution down the road that we are pursuing.”

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