Contract signed for degree audit system

The University has signed a contract to implement a degree audit system, which will automatically review students’ records and determine whether they are making sufficient progress toward graduating. Plans are also underway to create an Associate Registrar position to handle the new program.

University Registrar Elizabeth Amundson said Tuesday that the University signed a contract with a vendor to purchase and maintain the DegreeWorks system, a software program that will allow students to track progress toward their major in real-time. The audit system is expected to improve advising, freeing advisers to spend more time giving students guidance rather than focusing on making sure they graduate.

Amundson said the initial cost of the servers and software is approximately $88,000, with an estimated annual maintenance cost of just over $10,000 plus additional cost created by staff to support the program.

“We do anticipate hiring an Associate Registrar for Degree Audit,” Amundson said in an e-mail. “The position should be posted soon – and will be advertised with a salary range of $56,000-$75,000 annually.”

For Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Paul Duff, the contract is a step in the right direction for the University, and will lead to major changes in academic advising – especially within the Columbian College, a school often disparaged for having poor advising.

“Within the CCAS, the degree audit system should facilitate advising,” Duff said in an e-mail. “With an automated degree audit system, students will be able to check on their academic progress at any time. This will allow students and advisors to concentrate on more substantive academic issues.”

The system will also allow administrators to track student progress by categories like year or major, which Associate Vice President for Academic Operations Jeffrey Lenn said will impact future course offerings.

“I think it’s going to help schools in the development of their ability to manage course offerings,” Lenn said. “As they begin to get a sense of where all of our students are, they can pull that up and it will help in their planning for course offerings.”

Student Association Vice President Jason Lifton said the system is needed to overhaul the advising system and has been a lobbying point for the SA.

“We have continued to urge the administration that this is a priority for students and 100 percent necessary to help make up for the lack of an appropriate advising system,” Lifton said. “We’ll continue to push for this upgrade until it is fully operational.”

But the implementation of the long-awaited system may yet be in the distant future for Colonials.

A steering committee of administrators will meet “soon” to determine a timeline for the implementation of DegreeWorks and the assistant registrar position to handle the program will be posted soon, Amundson said.

“This is not just going to come overnight,” Lenn said. “You just don’t turn on a switch and all the sudden you have degree audit, we still have quite a bit of work to do.”

Lauren French contributed to this report.

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