Top photo: Office of the Registrar
Center photo: Enrollment Services Center
Bottom photo: Computers in JPL lobby
Remodeling brings more efficient student services
By Tim Brownlee
Assistant Director of Public Affairs
(July 17, 2008)--Last spring, a major remodel was completed in the Office of the Registrar and the Office of Financial Aid at the UTSA 1604 Campus. The expanded, redesigned offices are the culmination of a two-year process based on offering better student services.
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"We had two years of discussions to plan the areas in ways that would help us serve our students more efficiently," said Joe DeCristoforo, UTSA assistant vice president and registrar. "George Herrera, a construction planner in the Office of Facilities Administration, was great to work with. He had many good suggestions, and there were lots of times when we said, 'I hadn't thought of that.' George worked with department representatives and project architects to compile the ideas into a plan that satisfied everyone."
To start the project in the John Peace Library Building, the Office of Admissions was moved to a new permanent location in the Multidisciplinary Studies Building. Previously, admissions, registrar, enrollment services and financial aid staff members were mixed together behind the scenes. To heighten productivity, the new alignment established distinct spaces with team members from the same departments working alongside each other. With most of the cubicles in an open area, complementary colors of carpeting were used to help delineate work groups.
The benefit for students is that the most requested functions of the office are now closer to the front desk including student records, residency, athletics certification and graduation services. Walls were moved out several feet into the hallway to create a more open environment with space for separate registrar and financial aid meeting rooms and four new offices; the registrar conference room can be divided into two spaces for staff training. Additionally, suspended ceilings were raised and lighting was added.
Formerly housing 42,000 paper student financial aid and academic documents, a large vault was transformed into an imaging center where records were scanned, digitized and transferred to a server. After scanning, the documents were shredded and removed, along with the unnecessary 10-inch, 4,000-pound vault door, freeing up space and providing more convenient online record access for staff members.
Adjoining the registrar's office is a call center with 12 staff members to receive calls from students and parents regarding enrollment and financial aid concerns. At (210) 458-8000, customer support is provided for loans, administration of scholarships, financial aid counseling, grant verification, e-mail notification of grant awards and record system maintenance.
Down the hall, the one-stop Enrollment Services Center combines enrollment and financial aid services. The new center offers shorter waiting lines and a quieter carpeted space with a U-shaped configuration of staff workstations. Additionally, there are five booths for private, individual counseling including a financial aid outreach specialist.
Relocating the center from the JPL elevator lobby provided the opportunity to redesign and brighten the area and add more computers for public use. Two kiosks containing four computers were taken out, and new fixtures were installed to house 23 flat-screen computers connected to the Internet.
According to DeCristoforo, students and staff agree that the new concept is working very well to help provide students with the information and assistance they need in less time and in a more pleasant, efficient environment.
For more information, contact Joe DeCristoforo at (210) 458-4548.