Computer Systems to Meet 21st Century Standards

Matthew Gromala, Reporter

The university’s ancient AS/400 computer system is going the way of vynl records.

The new system, called Jenzibar, will be fully operational sometime between July 2015 and January 2016.

“Our current in-house AS/400 solution served us well over many years. In general the new systems will provide us with many added capabilities that would have taken us a long time to build in the present environment,” said Val Apanovich, Director of Information Technology at the university.

Other tech upgrades are on the way, too.  “The campus portal (EmU) will be replaced by a similar system such that the user interface for the students will be easy to use, easy to navigate, and allow the students some additional personal customization.” said Sister Patricia Lapczynski, an associate professor and the faculty representative on the AS/400 replacement committee.

The changes to the portal will allow students to accomplish more from a computer  – or a mobile device. “The new portal could help you schedule a meeting with your advisor during advising week, let you see course prerequisite information, track your graduation requirements, etc.,” said Lapczynski.

“I like that it’ll be easier to use, and that I’ll be able to plan meetings with my advisor with it,” said first-year student Quentin Smith about the changes to the portal.

OASIS, too, is included in the overhaul. “Students are used to using OASIS to access information tailored to their academic needs. The new system will replace OASIS,” said Lapczynski.

The changes will impact everyone in the campus community, from bill paying, transcript tracking and all of the other work of the university.

Fanancials alone incorporate the many functions of university staffers. “This includes general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, purchasing and fixed assets,” said Apanovich.

The university’s website will receive a new look to match.  “This will be launched no later than early 2015,” said Apanovich.

Lapczynski said students will primarily be affected by new registration processes and their access to transcripts and grades.

For example, students will be able to set up their advising session through OASIS.

“We hope that this will help the student get a better picture as they plan their student schedule.  It should give the students and their advisors more information and planning tools then they have had in the past,” said Lapcyznski.

It is hoped that this will help make the student a more active participant in the advising process, she said.

“Students will become active partners in the advising process by viewing their degree requirements and completion status.” Said Lapczynski.

Faculty will find more advising information about each student.  “As a faculty member, I should be getting easier access to more important information about my advisee’s academic progress toward their degree,” said Lapczynski.

It will even make it easier to help students who are considering a change of major.  “If my advisee wants to explore other options for a major I can also work with them to run ‘what if’ scenarios against other academic plans to help determine the benefits and consequences of a change in major,” said Lapczynski.

The new system will enable department chars to do one thing that may be taken for granted: find out who their majors are. Chair are currently required to ask staffers to run reports on the AS/400 to access their lists of majors.

Smith said he was surprised that chairs could not readily get a hold of student lists. “Wait, what? Aren’t they the ones who need to have that stuff?”

The final date for full implementation is not set because the entire university community will need training to use the new system – and its high-tech functionality. “In determining the actual date we will move to the new system, we are taking into account the need to train students, faculty and staff on how to use the new software to ensure a smooth transition,” said Apanovich.