Hawaii: Strengthening the Sum of its Parts

The University of Hawaii (UH) is unique in that all public higher education institutions in the state—community colleges, baccalaureate campuses, and the research university—are part of a single university system with one Board of Regents and one president.

There are always some challenges that are common to any network of campuses, such as a two-year community college that works with a four-year campus to provide smooth articulation and transfer, or a system of state schools working together to deliver distance learning to their residents. The challenges include:

  • Making it easy for students to engage with multiple campuses in the system, concurrently and over time
  • Providing a rich array of accessible services to all our constituents at all our campuses
  • Maintaining the identity of each individual campus while advancing the brand and loyalty for the system as a whole
  • Containing costs while expanding services

To address these challenges, we are in the process of implementing a single, integrated student system to unite all of our campuses and better serve our learners. In the past, each of the 10 campuses operated their own systems and processes. Our new system will include SCT Banner for the financial aid and student information system, and the SCT Luminis product family for the portal and integration. When the full implementation is complete in 2004, we believe it will be higher ed's first single, shared student database to serve both two-year community colleges and four-year universities.

Currently, all 10 campuses are live for fall 2003 activity with SCT Banner Student and Financial Aid. We will be live with a single common portal, myUH, in the fall of 2003.

Like Students—Anytime, Anyplace
The new system, coupled with its self-service Web applications, will let students register anyplace, anytime, and to move seamlessly among UH's 10 accredited campuses. This flexibility is essential because the State of Hawaii serves resident students on six different islands, and students cannot easily travel among them to attend classes. Many of our students take courses at a community college, and then transfer later to one of our four-year campuses. Some of our university students complement their course schedules with offerings from a nearby community college. And our distance learners routinely enroll in courses from multiple campuses each semester.

When our implementation is complete, it will eliminate the burdens of interacting with the UH system and allow students to focus on learning. For example, UH's nearly 45,000 students will be able to apply online and register for classes to as many UH campuses as they like through one process, and submit just one copy of paper transcripts from non-UH campuses. Their financial aid officers at their home campuses will be able to access their enrollment information at all UH campuses. Students will be able to pay their bills to all campuses either online or in person at the UH campus most convenient to them. Students and their advisors will be able to see their full academic history and perform degree audits and academic planning with the full picture. Internal transfer students will not require a paper transcript. And students will be able to request all their UH campus transcripts with a single transaction. Yet, each campus will remain academically independent with its own programs.

Personalized Web-Based Services
The creation of a single myUH portal will broaden our Web-based services and access to them. The portal will feature a common interface that can be personalized for each constituent with Web-based access to services, including UH e-mail, a calendar that is automatically populated with their classes and other events they select, and full integration with UH WebCT services and other locally developed and JA-SIG contributed uPortal services.

The integration of services and resources that will be presented within a single portal will enable us to provide students at even the smallest of our campuses with a much greater breadth of services than a single campus can provide on its own. Our aim is that the single portal approach will make students at all our campuses feel more a part of the larger UH system. Students will be able to see what's available across the system, not just at the campus where they are currently enrolled.

Campus vs. University Brand Loyalty
The differences among our 10 campuses are as deep as the water separating the state's islands. Each campus has its own course catalog, its own course numbering and grading systems; and the offerings across institutions range from vocational workforce development programs to doctoral programs. It is essential for individual campuses to be able to maintain and to communicate their unique and special strengths.

Although all the campuses will work from a single system, we will retain individuality where needed by customizing the SCT solutions using Oracle's Virtual Private Database (VPD) capability. This approach protects the underlying architecture and enables campus specificity where appropriate, yet provides users with one seamless, single point of entry.

During our implementation we are evaluating functions to determine which ones are more appropriate for system-wide implementation and which ones are more appropriate as a campus-specific component. We are reviewing applications within the portal in the same way. For the time being, we will maintain our standard Web sites for each campus, providing links between them and the myUH portal.

All student transactions and engagement with the UH system will take place through the myUH portal beginning in fall 2003. Moving forward, we will personalize the user experience so that when a user logs in, the system will present the information and resources that are most pertinent and appropriate to him or her. We believe that this ability to customize views, as well as present relevant information and services by campus, will allow us to personalize service to our customers while still advancing the UH brand. We expect this personalization, along with the presentation of resources available throughout the UH system, will encourage students to become lifelong learners and supporters of UH.

Containing Costs, Expanding Services
Moving to a single system is allowing us to provide greatly expanded services and resources to all our campuses and users without increasing costs proportionally. We previously had 10 IT staffs supporting four different software packages running on 10 different server platforms, each with associated hardware and software maintenance costs. Now we're supporting only one physical set of servers and one application for all 10 campuses.

The consolidation of services enabled by the single system also provides opportunities for improved service efficiencies. For example, we will be able to generate, mail, and bill transcripts in one central office rather than duplicating these activities in 10 places. Similarly, we will be able to manage billing for a student across the system from one place, while still providing personal service for that account at the campus location of the student's choice. Also, we expect that the self-service applications via the Web will free up our staff from some of their routine, clerical work. This will allow staff to offer more customer-facing services and deal with the difficult fiscal situation in Hawaii as in other states.

The integrated system also will help our campus and system managers and executives in their decision making. At the campus level, managers will have more timely information about key trends than ever before. Previously, we gathered and normalized data from each of our 10 campus student information systems and consolidated it into one unified database to get an overall system-wide picture. The single system will provide better access to current and institution-wide data so that our administrators and executives will have better information for day-to-day decision making. This might include adding new course sections to meet student needs, long-term planning of academic programs, and understanding the financial implications of students' course-taking patterns over time.

The implementation of the system-wide student information system and portal are essential to transforming the University of Hawaii into a global but locally oriented 21st century university system that is more than the sum of its parts. In the near future, student access across the system will be based on student preparation and choice, and transfer opportunities will be based on the achievement of educational objectives. The University of Hawaii will evolve to a coherent system of campuses and programs that our students can enter, leave, and re-enter in different ways as their lives evolve and change.

When students succeed by having information and services at their fingertips, when faculty have easy access to the information and services they need to teach, and when managers gain by having the information to plan improved services, then the university is focusing on the right things—the success of our students, our faculty, and our staff.

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