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Four-day SIS hiatus begins tomorrow

By David J. Cieslak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 9, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Phyllis Bolt Bannister, Financial Aid Director

Administrators are warning the UA community to finish Student Infor-mation System business today, because a four-day shutdown to fix potential Y2K problems starts tomorrow.

UA Chief Budget Officer Dick Roberts said when the procedure is fin-ished, the system will be "year-2000 compliant."

Students who wish to check their account balances or other personal information through Student Link on the University of Arizona's home page won't be able to log-on until Wednesday.

And parents coming to campus for Family Weekend won't be able to check and see if their students told the truth about last semester's grades, as the Registrar's Office will be closed until Tuesday.

The project, an SIS upgrade, will cost the university about $250,000, Roberts said.

"For the most part, there won't be any major system changes," he said.

Roberts said updating campus systems for year-2000 compliance has cost the university about $1.4 million over four years. The $250,000 for the weekend procedure comes from a $337,000 project allocation, he said.

"It's not been easy," Roberts said. "With the university as a whole, there's a lot of competing needs for scarce dollars."

The UA will spend about $2.2 million to fully update its computers for the new millennium, he said.

The university's financial aid system - particularly office records - will also get a facelift, said Financial Aid Director Phyllis Bolt Bannister.

The federal government mandates that the financial aid system be updated every year, and this year they're upgrading to a more recent version, Bolt Bannister said.

"You've got to have a system that doesn't scream every time you enter the number 2000," she said.

Bolt Bannister said the shutdown provides data conversion time, system initiation and testing online programs.

Other areas affected by this weekend's activities include Admissions, Bursar's and Curriculum offices, which will be testing the updated version.

E-mail and university Web sites will not be affected over the weekend, Bolt Bannister said.

"This project is a temporary fix," she said. "It's not going to make a huge change in the way we do business."

Both Roberts and Bolt Bannister said they're excited about the future of SIS, as UA financial aid procedures could be more efficient and user friendly by 2001.

With the new system, prospective UA students may be able to find out how much financial aid they will receive within a day, Bolt Bannister said.

"The potential is there," she said. "In 2001, students may be able to do all business through the computer."

Bolt Bannister said the UA is looking for proposals from companies that want to partake in the project, that, once completed, will allow students to do business on a computer anywhere in the world.

"Electronically, you can get the question and answer (about a student's financial aid situation) perhaps the same hour," she said. "What a tremendous impact."

David J. Cieslak can be reached via e-mail at David.J.Cieslak