Several years ago, "efficient" was not among the words that would have best described the operation of offices that served students at
Students signed up for their classes in person to avoid an inconvenient online system. Wait times for phone inquiries averaged more than 30 minutes. Wilkes had combined its offices for financial aid, registration, admissions processing and cashiering in 2005, but that move actually increased students' wait times and frustration.
When Janine Becker started at the university in 2008, she learned that staff hadn't been adequately trained to handle the different types of questions they received from students, parents and faculty. The six months dedicated to putting different offices under one roof simply weren't enough.
The university addressed these problems by giving staffers specific tasks, but training them to address inquiries about other areas. That's important because a call about why a scholarship isn't showing up on a student's account might also include a question about how to pay a bill. "In a traditional setup, they would have to walk from one office, to another, to another," Becker says.
This turnaround earned Wilkes an award from University Business magazine, which recently spotlighted the college's Student Services Center as one of its Models of Efficiency
. And 85 percent of students now register for classes online.
As technology advances, Becker anticipates the center being able to receive more documentation online, improving efficiency. "The idea of a one-stop center is a good one," she says. "I think it would be better to have a no-stop center."
Source: Janine Becker, Wilkes University
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen