Banner System Moves to New Stage

Posted: April 11, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Helen Ackerman

The 2010 Plan is nearing its final form and will be reviewed by the Board of Visitors at its meeting in May. The plan’s success is in part dependent on the information management systems the university has in place to facilitate the change outlined in the plan.

Advanced and flexible information systems are essential, according to Vice President for Information Technology Joy Hughes. For this reason, the university has over the last four years been systematically modernizing its finance, human resources, and student administrative systems through the implementation of the Banner system. When the project began, the administrative systems were in such disrepair that the university was in danger of not being able to register its students or pay its employees. Hughes reports that the project was completed on time and within budget thanks to the capable leadership of Linda Schwartzstein, vice provost, Academic Affairs; Beth Brock, assistant vice president and controller; and Carrie Gillotte, director, Database Application Services.

“We are grateful to them and to all those who worked so hard on this project,” says President Alan Merten.

With the system now in place, it is time to build on it to better meet the university’s needs, Hughes explains. “There are components of the system that will help people do their work more efficiently that were not installed due to time and resource constraints; these need to be installed. There are modifications that need to be made in the generic system in order to make it better fit the way Mason works. There are configuration decisions that need to be assessed and, in some cases, changed now that we know more about how the system works. There are add-on systems, such as portals and schedulers, that need to be implemented in order to realize the full potential of the underlying technology.” And, she adds, “Intensive attention needs to be paid to the management reporting needs of the administrative and academic offices and the grants management needs of research faculty.”

“We have the base system in place,” says Merten. “It is now time to plan and implement a major university-wide project that will leverage and enhance that base system to enable higher productivity for Mason employees and greater user satisfaction across the board.”

Merten has asked Hughes to personally lead this critically important next phase. During the next few weeks, she will select her leadership team and also invite members of the community to join user advisory groups. Members of the current Banner committees will be reassigned to one or more of these new committees. Hughes will recruit others for specific projects. Employees funded by Banner will report to Hughes.

Merten asks that faculty and staff members assist Hughes with this next phase of modernizing Mason’s information systems. “Cooperation and commitment were the keys to success of the first phase of modernizing our information systems,” he says. “They will be even more critical to this next stage. Working together we can make the transformations necessary to the success of the 2010 Plan.”

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