Tech Collaboration Streamlines Transfer Process, Wins Award

Tech Collaboration Streamlines Transfer Process, Wins Award
Tech Collaboration Streamlines Transfer Process, Wins Award
By Lisa Hirschfield

The majority of Lehman students—70 percent in the 2018-2019 academic year—transferred from another institution. Transfer students frequently face obstacles around the transferof course credits, and administrators often struggle to determine which courses count toward core requirements or a major. A recent project, which saw the collaborating departments win an award for its results, just made that part of the transfer process a lot easier for everyone who engages with it.

Every year, Lehman College processes more than 5,000 transfer credit evaluation requests, according to Ronald Bergmann, Lehman’s chief information officer and vice president for technology. Up until recently, that process was a laborious and time-consuming one: paper-based and prone to delays and backlogs, it required students to visit multiple offices for faculty and staff review and signatures, leaving everyone involved frustrated with the process, especially if the course the student was hoping to transfer had no clear equivalent to a Lehman course.

“The old process could take months,” said Aurea Rodriguez, assistant director of transfer credit evaluation. “Students would have a hard time meeting with faculty, especially over summer break; faculty would have long lines of students waiting for them to sign off on equivalents. Now, our typical turnaround time for faculty to equate a course is the same day it was sent out to them, and the students’ records are updated weekly.”

What changed? The implementation of the electronic Transfer Credit Evaluation (eTCE) system, an automated process that identifies courses that require equating and sends email alerts to advisors when courses require review.

“The new system advances Lehman’s goal of better meeting the needs of our students, and has significantly enhanced student, faculty and staff satisfaction,” said Reine Sarmiento, vice president for enrollment management and associate provost. “Ron and I are grateful to everyone involved in making this happen.”

The Office of Admissions now has access to a national database of course descriptions, which simplifies credit evaluation. Electronic credit review forms are sent to faculty for approval, along with course descriptions from a student’s previous institution—taking out the guesswork when it comes to determining course equivalents. Students are rarely involved in the process, unless there is no course description available in the database, in which case they need to obtain it from their previous institution.

The project required collaboration across multiple departments and divisions and its success was recognized in December at the annual CUNY IT Conference. A team led by Lehman’s Divisions of Information Technology and Enrollment Management received the Excellence in IT Award for Collaboration for the new system.

“The eTCE system reflects the value of working in partnership across the college with a singular focus,” said Bergmann. “This first-of-a-kind capability marks a breakthrough in blending a variety of technologies in new ways to enhance the student and faculty experience.”