UA seeks student feedback for 'user-friendly campus'

By Jimi Jo Story
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 9, 1996

If you have ever suffered through a long registration line or trudged around campus to get those last bits of information for a financial aid form, now is your chance to let the administration know how you feel about it.

Smart Start, a team of eight University of Arizona employees, was created to make registering for and attending classes at the UA more "friendly, personal and dependable," according to the program's vision statement.

The team began working in December. Members come from the Department of Residence Life, Office of Student Financial Aid, College of Arts and Sciences, Center for Computing and Information Technology and Bursar's, Registrar's, and Admissions Offices. The team "owner" is Saundra Taylor, vice president of Student Affairs.

Smart Start is looking for student and faculty comments, positive and negative, about the registration, preparation for class, and attendance processes. The team will try to implement suggestions for a more efficient and user-friendly university.

"Most students experience confusion because of having to go to many different places around campus to get things done," said Lisa Watson, a Smart Start team member from the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Watson said that because computer systems on campus are not the same, information is often hard to track down. This causes delays on information and sometimes necessitates walking from office to office to gather specific information.

"If I could change anything, it would be to extend the drop/add time over RSVP and for the financial aid forms to have automatic renewal," said Benjamin Minor, 21, an English literature junior.

"It's a hassle to have to fill out the same forms every semester - I'm not going to change status unless I win the lottery."

Smart Start is a part of a program that is dedicated to "fine tuning" UA operations, called Student Information System 2000, which has been underway since January 1994.

The SIS2000 program, when completed, should make every computer system on campus compatible, making information more easily accessible.

"UA Info is good, but not enough," Minor said.

Sharon Campbell, associate director for residence life said, "We hope to change the current processes so that the time a student spends can be worthwhile and efficient."

Registration, drop/add processes, and financial aid circuits would be more efficient if a student could, for example, find out why there was a hold on his account from the Bursar's Office while standing in the Registration Office, she said.

Each of the team members is not working in his normal capacity, but instead is listed as "on special assignment," Campbell said.

"We have committed 100 percent of our time and effort to this project."

The members are receiving their regular pay while working on the project.

Watson said a consultant had been contracted from Texas Instruments to provide expertise for the project.

"I think that they've got a pretty good system when it comes to registration, but financial aid is another matter," said Tabitha Donofrio, 21, a computer science junior.

Watson and Campbell said the fact that this project is student-focused will make a big difference in the future.

"It has been a challenge to build the team, but we see where we can truly help the students and that has brought us together," said Campbell.

The team members are actively gathering suggestions on what will make the student experience better. Any comments can be voiced by either going to the Smart Start office in Speech and Hearing Room 109 or writing to the listserv at

Interested students can also visit the Smart Start homepage at