A new Infinite Corridor office will give the Institute a fresh approach to student services. Scheduled to open on December 2 in Rm 3-123, the Student Services Center (SSC) will offer students one-stop shopping for many of the academic and financial transactions for which they now visit the offices of the Bursar, Registrar and Student Financial Aid.
At the SSC, students will be able to sign outside scholarship checks, request academic transcripts, make payments to their student account and get copies of their financial aid statements, among other things. The Center will also have an Athena terminal so they can access the On-Line Student Information System (OLSIS) for self-service viewing of their student account charges and payments, academic summary and financial aid application status.
The SSC will be open daily from 9am-6pm. Data which will be collected on student traffic and usage of the various services will be used to determine future hours of operation.
Staff from the offices of the Bursar, Registrar and Student Financial Aid will work in the Center on a three-month rotating basis. They will be in constant contact with their "home" offices to keep up-to-date on new procedures, issues and information.
The need for a Student Services Center was identified by the Student Services Reengineering Redesign team, which issued its recommendations last spring. In focus groups, interviews and surveys, students expressed frustration at not knowing where to go for information, or being shuffled from office to office in order to complete certain transactions. They wanted student service offices to work together more efficiently and to provide clear and consistent information.
Students also said the Bursar's Office and the Student Financial Aid Office should be located closer together. The Bursar and Registrar are located in east campus on Main Street, while the Student Financial Aid Office is a 10-minute walk across campus on Massachusetts Avenue.
Hillary DeBaun is the leader for the Student Services Center team as well as the pilot project. She has 16 years of MIT experience in Career Services, Admissions, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and most recently in the undergraduate program office at the Sloan School of Management.
"The idea of the Center is to provide services for students efficiently and in one place," Ms. DeBaun said. "Staff members are being trained to listen carefully to students to understand their need or problem, give them the appropriate assistance, or make a quick and accurate referral if necessary."
The first rotation of staff for the Center is now being trained in technical skills, customer service and team-building while also receiving cross-training in Bursar, Registrar and Student Financial Aid functions. The group includes Erin McCoy (Bursar's Office), Carrie Groves (Registrar's Office), and Carmen Velez (Student Financial Aid Office). They will work approximately three months in the Center before being replaced by a second rotation, which begins training in January.
FAST TEAM PROJECT
The SSC recommendation became one of the goals of the FAST (Financial and Academic Services Transition) team, which was charged with implementing the recommendations of the Redesign team. Last June, FAST formed an SSC sub-team whose mission was to identify services that could be moved from the three offices to the Center, to find a central location to house the Center, and to recruit and train staff.
The Center will serve as a pilot project through the rest of this academic year. In the meantime, the SSC team will work to identify additional high-volume transactions and determine their appropriateness for the Center.
SSC team members are Tina Abbott (Bursar's Office), Andrea Bernard (MITSIS), Erin McCoy (Bursar's Office), David McNeil (Registrar's Office), Jag Patel (student and member of the Redesign team), Patricia Ramonat (Student Financial Aid Office), Debbie Riparo (Bursar's Office), Ri Romano (Registrar's Office), and Carmen Velez (Student Financial Aid Office). Adjunct members who serve as resources to the team are Joanne Jonsson (mathematics), Milena Levak (International Student's Office), and Robert Weinerman (Student Financial Aid Office and member of the Redesign team).
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 20, 1996.