Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 12:43pm

University of Iowa is one of eight colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in its spring 2014 “Models of Efficiency” national recognition program. Sponsored by Higher One, a leader in providing financial services and data analytics to more than 1,900 college and university campuses across the U.S., the Models of Efficiency program recognizes innovative approaches for streamlining higher education operations through technology and/or business process improvements.

“Building your own student information system is a massive undertaking,” said Tim Goral, senior editor of University Business. “The University of Iowa team did an excellent job of understanding and fulfilling their staff’s needs, and as a result, greatly improved service to their students.”

When you think about the blinding pace of technology change, it’s a wonder the University of Iowa’s student information system worked for as long as it did. More than 30 years old, Iowa’s SIS was less an integrated series of data processing functions and more a collection of individual siloed systems that didn’t work very well together. Because its underlying technology and architecture were so old, enhancements were difficult; data were redundant and complex to synchronize; and manual, paper-based processes frustrated users.

“They had their own applications and they had their own databases,” says Mike Noel, director of ITS administrative information systems. “There was communication between them, but also redundant data. That meant we had a lot of syncing of data between the systems, which could be problematic.”

The university built a new SIS internally so it could ensure the system would meet its specific needs. The work was broken down into modules aligned with the functional units of the provost’s office and created individual work groups with functional and technical co-leaders. Subject-matter experts cycled in and out of the groups as needed.

The new system, called MAUI—for “Made At the University of Iowa”—gives students a contemporary user interface, greater integration with other systems and more functionality. From initial inquiry to graduation, every step of the student lifecycle is supported: admissions, student records, advising, billing, financial aid, orientation, relationship management, academic support and events management. Data redundancy is a thing of the past, and manual processes have been automated.

MAUI’s comprehensive suite of services has increased efficiencies across a wide variety of areas. Among the benefits: The registrar’s office processed nearly 17,000 class add/drop changes last fall without needing a signature and without long lines of students; student relationship management was smoother; and more than 15,000 applicants received news of their admission decision within two days instead of the prior two-plus weeks.

In addition to University of Iowa, spring 2014 Models of Efficiency honorees include: Northern Arizona University; Salisbury University (Md.); Texas A&M Health Science Center; University of Colorado; University of Massachusetts; University of Pittsburgh and University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Models of Efficiency is an ongoing recognition program. Higher ed institutions can participate in upcoming rounds by visiting www.universitybusiness.com/moe.

The program is sponsored by Higher One, a leading company that offers a wide array of technological services on campus, ranging from streamlining the institution’s performance analytics and financial aid refund processes to offering students innovative banking services, tuition payment plans and the basics of financial management. Higher One works closely with colleges and universities by allocating resources more efficiently to provide a higher quality of service and using data to impact success with a focus on empowering students.

“The spring 2014 Models of Efficiency honorees have done an excellent job achieving process improvements and operational efficiencies in their higher ed institutions,” said Casey McGuane, chief operating officer of Higher One. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts alongside University Business.”

About University Business

University Business is the leading publication for senior managers at colleges and universities throughout the United States, reaching 75,000 leaders who manage enrollment, technology, business, finance, facilities and academic affairs. More information is available at www.universitybusiness.com.

About Higher One

Higher One partners with colleges and universities to lower their administrative costs and to improve graduation rates. It provides a broad array of payment, refund disbursement and data analytics and management tools to institutions that help them save money and enhance institutional effectiveness. And for students, it offers financial literacy programs and convenient, flexible and affordable transaction options to help them manage their finances. Higher One is a leader in higher education, supporting more than 1,900 schools and 13 million enrolled students. More information about Higher One can be found at www.higherone.com.