The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Operation ELM: Itƒ?TMs not about trees

By Patrick Malloy

Despite a colorful flyer posted to student mailboxes and a recent advertisement in the Mac Weekly hyping a mysterious, arboreal phenomenon, one major question remains: what is Operation ELM?
Operation ELM, or Effectively Linking Macalester, is “Macalester College’s electronic systems transformation” and will “integrate campus systems so that they are easier for you to use,” according to the flyer.

The project is a replacement of the software systems currently used by almost all Macalester departments, ELM Project Manager Chuck Standfuss explained. For the last 18 years, Macalester has operated a system called Campus Administrative, Resource Planning and Student Instructions, or CARS.

CARS held and could edit such data as grades, the master course schedule, student course schedules, student and College financial information, Human Resources data and alumni contact information.

“It needs to be replaced. It really needed it earlier than now,” Standfuss, who is taking time off from his position as Director of Human Resources to oversee Operation ELM, said.

According to Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton, the price tag for Operation ELM is $3 million. This includes funds for software, training and other expenses associated with the switch.

The software product that will form “the centerpiece” of Operation ELM is known as Banner, a database program distributed by a corporation called SunGard Higher Education. It will serve the same function as CARS but with improved capabilities. Most college departments will operate Banner, Standfuss said. The only exceptions are Admissions and Advancement, which will use other programs.

Banner will allow information to flow much more freely between different systems throughout the college, according to Standfuss.
With CARS, each department maintains separate databases of information, meaning that some data has to be entered multiple times, leading to mistakes and inconsistencies. For instance, student academic data was maintained separate from financial data. Though several computer programs will be part of the new system, a single computer database containing all departmental information will be compatible with all of the programs.

The first interaction students will have with the new software will come in April when they register for Fall 2007 courses, using a new course registration program.
Before the full implementation of Banner, the Registrar’s office expects to run trial registrations in November, January and February.

“It’s going to look different,” Registrar Jayne Niemi said. “[But] I don’t think it will change that much in terms of process. Hopefully it won’t require much training for students.”

Faculty and students will use Banner through what Barron Koralesky, who manages academic information for ITS, describes as a “community portal.” It will be a web page connected to the Banner system that displays personalized information, such as the courses a student is taking or the courses a professor is teaching. The course registration and benefit options will be connected to this web page.

After full implementation of Operation ELM, faculty and staff will be able to change their benefit options, as well as personal information such as phone number, address and marital status through their computers instead of through the Human Resources Department. College employees will also complete most requests for products or services through Banner.

On June 1, the Finance office began using Banner, and Admissions began using Recruitment PLUS, another new program, making them the first departments to operate any of the new systems.

“It’s easier to use than CARS,” Purchasing Manager Kathy Johnson said of Banner on Tuesday at an open meeting about Operation ELM.

Her department has encountered some difficulties, Johnson said, since some functions available in CARS are not available in Banner. Banner will soon carry those features, she added.

Operation ELM began in 2005 and will end late next year. Macalester is collaborating with three colleges — the College of St. Catherine, Northwestern College and Bethel University — thereby procuring a discount in purchasing the software. Administrators are planning for the new software to be used for the subsequent 15 years.

A student contest to name the new web portal will take place in the first two weeks of October, Koralesky said. Participants will be entered in raffles for small prizes and the person who comes up with the name that the college chooses will win a gift certificate.

Besides brochures in SPO boxes, students have yet to see much evidence of Operation ELM. According to Standfuss, there will not be much more advertising.

“All we were trying to do this fall was raise awareness,” he said.

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    Paul AllanSep 8, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    What’s up friends, its fantastic paragraph on the topic of teachingand completely defined, keep it up all the time.