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Student Advisement, Records Folders Go Paperless

 Blizzards of paper blow seasonally into Admissions, the Registrar's and academic advisers' offices across campus, drifting high and costing work, time and more than occasional search parties.

Paperwork A long-anticipated project to melt all that paper, digitizing students' enrollment and academic records from application to graduation, is under way.

Dubbed "document imaging" after a portion of software vendor SunGard's Banner Document Management Suite, the project has the potential to eliminate ranks of filing cabinets, decades-old boxes and rooms full of yesteryear's student records, as well.

"The paper chase here has grown 100 percent in the last 10 years or so," said Dan Griffin '92, M '00, associate director of admissions and a key member of a cross-campus team that has met for nearly two years to launch a project first discussed at least six years ago. "Secretaries and students used to spend hours a day just alphabetizing them by student. Now schools like ours can scan in and upload digitally each piece of paper that comes in."

Paperless folders have made their way into at least a half-dozen academic departments during the spring semester, as part of a pilot involving mid-year transfers and a handful of entering freshmen — about 300 students in all.

"It's a big change," said Jessica Reeher, advisement coordinator for communication studies and a member of a campus committee implementing the system in academic departments. "I think it's going to fundamentally change the way we advise students."

Records privacy, of course, has been at the forefront. A student's folder can contain everything from academic-progress (CAPP) reports to change-of-major forms, from disciplinary records to comments from admissions counselors and academic advisers. The software has levels of security built in on a per-document, need-to-know basis.

Jeff Rea '71

Kelly Deso '11, senior accounting major and Admissions Office student worker, scans and indexes documents in Sheldon Hall.

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