UTC installing Banner software

TIMELINE FOR BANNER* October 2009: Admissions* February 2010: Financial aid* March 2010: Class registration* July 2010: Accounts receivable* August 2010: Academic recordsSource: UTC

The first stages of a UTC online information system have launched, and officials say the end result will allow students to check grades, register for classes, pay bills and look up their academic history anytime, anywhere.

"In the past, students would have to stand in line or wait in line," said Debbie Parker, associate vice chancellor for business and finance. "Communication will be instantaneous. It is just a better way to do business."

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will move its online services to the Banner system over the next year to have it fully operational by this fall, officials said.

Banner, developed by Sun-Gard Higher Education, has become standard for state colleges' online services since the Tennessee Board of Regents signed a $51 million contract in 2004 for the software.

UTC has budgeted more than $4 million to fund the implementation over the next three years. The UT system is spending $15 million for Banner over the next three years.

The school's current online services are managed through several software programs that limit student convenience, officials said. For example, with the existing software, students cannot check the status of their student fees.

That will change when Banner is up and running, said Chuck Cantrell, a member of the UTC Banner committee, which meets once a week.

"The main thing it will mean is easier accessibility and the ability to provide more services," he said.

In October, UTC began allowing students to apply to attend the university through Banner. In February, the college will begin running student financial aid through the new online system.

"It has been going very smoothly," Mr. Cantrell said. "I haven't heard a single problem. It is all based on having a switchover for the entire system by fall 2010. We are ahead of schedule. We are doing very well."

Ms. Parker said intensive faculty and staff training on the Banner system will begin this month, and officials are hoping for no major hiccups as the campus moves forward with the technology.

"Training the campus will be a lot of work that will have to happen," she said. "Students have been used to registering online and paying their bills online, but they won't be as big of a challenge as much as the employees and faculty will be because it will change the way they do business."

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