Washington University in St. Louis: Initiative to replace student systems moves forward

While Washington University in St. Louis staff and faculty continue to adjust to Workday, the university’s new human resources and financial system, efforts to consolidate and replace WashU’s various student information systems kick into high gear.

“Through the Student Sunrise project, we will replace many of the information systems that currently support WashU’s academic areas with Workday’s student product,” said Provost Beverly Wendland, the project’s executive sponsor. “When we complete the effort four years from now, we will a have single, universitywide source for our student, finance and human resources data, creating a powerful new tool that will allow us to answer a range of important questions that previously have been challenging to answer, like how students with a particular academic profile have performed and who teaches what.”

Student Sunrise, however, is about more than implementing Workday Student. The project is focused on reimagining the tools, processes, policies and structures that support academic and student operations, such as registration, advising, curriculum management and student financials, with the goal of creating a more consistent student experience.

Under the leadership of Erin Culbreth, associate provost, Student Sunrise has been underway quietly for nearly two years.

“The project team recently concluded more than 18 months of discovery work that we felt was necessary to achieve the overall goals of the initiative,” Culbreth said. “This extensive planning period helps ensure that the project is set up for long-term success and that we build on lessons learned from the Workday HCM and Finance implementation.”

Series of ‘go-lives’ planned for 2024-25 academic year
The Workday Student implementation is intentionally long and measured. The project team will take the next two years to design and configure the system, a year to test the system, followed by a year of go-live activities. Unlike the recent HR and finance go-live, where all Workday functionality turned on at once, Workday Student will go live in stages beginning in fall 2024 and concluding in June 2025. Students and faculty will not begin using the system until spring 2025.

In addition to the project’s steering committee, about 70 subject-matter experts from schools and units are part of functionally oriented campus teams, which will meet monthly through the life of the implementation. These teams will provide insight into current academic practices in each school, including any unique needs the project must consider. They also will contribute to the design of common academic practices to be used across the university, as well as help test the system and support end-user training. Students and faculty will be engaged later in the implementation.

Other Sunrise projects
Workday Student is not the only project in the Sunrise portfolio. The project recently replaced the university’s aging homegrown student financial aid system (STAR) with PowerFAIDS to manage financial aid administration for Danforth Campus undergraduate, graduate and law students. The new system will support WashU’s ability to attract talented students using strategic financial aid. The new system is also easier to update to meet evolving federal regulations.

Next year, a new project will launch to consolidate and unify WashU’s graduate admissions systems and related processes in Slate, which is the recruitment system used by undergraduate admissions. The transition is expected to create a smoother process for applicants, reduce manual work for staff and simplify integrations with Workday Student.

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