Rankings & Recognition

Marist a "Model of Efficiency"

Marist College

University Business magazine recognizes college for innovative open-source online recruitment system


POUGHKEEPSIE (Nov. 20, 2014) – Marist College is one of eight colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in the Winter 2014 round of its “Models of Efficiency” national recognition program.

Sponsored by Higher One, a leader in providing financial services and data analytics to more than 1,900 college and university campuses across the U.S., the Models of Efficiency program recognizes innovative approaches for streamlining higher education operations through technology and/or business process improvements.

"Attracting the right job candidates is difficult enough without negative applicant experiences," says University Business senior editor Tim Goral. "Marist College took user feedback and utilized it in an impressive way, improving potential faculty experience while saving on vendor charges."

A hiring manager who had been contacted by a former employment candidate told Marist College Vice President and CIO Bill Thirsk that the candidate had attempted to apply for a job through the college’s online employment system—only to give up because the user experience was so frustrating. Such feedback was not an isolated incident. The College had purchased and implemented a recruitment software package in hopes of streamlining the application process and attracting high-quality faculty and administrators. But things weren’t working out as planned.

"What we had hoped to have happen was the reverse," recalls Peggy Kuck, director of Marist’s enterprise solutions group. "We found that because of the poor user experience, it was actually a detriment to our candidates to complete the hiring process."

After a failed attempt to get the original vendor to improve the package the college had bought, Thirsk says, "It was time to look at other options." Image of the Marist Jobs site

The best option, Marist concluded, was to take what Kuck calls "an intelligent risk" and develop an in-house solution – an open-source online recruitment system that could be customized to the College’s particular needs. The new system offers real-time integration with Marist’s existing enterprise resource planning software, something the vendor-sold product did not do, saving time for candidates as well as human resources staff. It allows for simple uploading of resumes, cover letters, and related documents that are converted to PDFs for easy review by hiring managers and search committees, and produces a workflow that generates automatic emails to applicants, hiring managers, HR and others.

Marist’s applicant pool has increased, according to Kuck, and more potential candidates are completing the application process. "We’re now attracting the high-quality faculty and professional staff we had hoped for," she adds. "That is a detail that shows we have done what we set out to do."

In addition to these efficiencies and benefits, the College realized cost savings as well. Dropping the commercial product meant not having to pay licensing fees to the vendor, adding $18,000 to Marist’s bottom line for each of the last two years. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the College’s solution is its open-source nature. Marist says it will offer the code behind its new system to other institutions in hopes of sharing best practices and controlling costs.

"There is massive disruption potential right now for colleges and universities to get together to form communities of practice to build software around certain disciplines," Thirsk says. "We would love to see higher education invest in teaching and learning rather than buying commercial products. It’s a new way of doing business. You end up with a better product and a better experience."

In addition to Marist, Winter 2014 Models of Efficiency honorees include: University of Montana (Missoula, Mt.); University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.); Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio); Western Iowa Tech Community College (Sioux City, Iowa); Portland State University (Portland, Ore.); and College of the Desert (Palm Desert, Calif.).

The Models of Efficiency program wraps up this year after five successful years. It has been sponsored by Higher One, which offers a wide array of technological services on campus, ranging from streamlining the institution’s performance analytics and financial aid refund processes to offering students innovative banking services, tuition payment plans and the basics of financial management. Higher One works closely with colleges and universities by allocating resources more efficiently to provide a higher quality of service and using data to impact success with a focus on empowering students.

"The Winter 2014 Models of Efficiency honorees turned campus problems into innovative solutions that better serve students and faculty," says Andrew Crawford, senior vice president of Client Services & Operations at Higher One. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts alongside University Business.”

About University Business
University Business is the leading publication for senior managers at colleges and universities throughout the United States, reaching 75,000 leaders who manage enrollment, technology, business, finance, facilities and academic affairs. More information is available at www.universitybusiness.com.

About Higher One
Higher One partners with colleges and universities to lower their administrative costs and to improve graduation rates. It provides a broad array of payment, refund disbursement and data analytics and management tools to institutions that help them save money and enhance institutional effectiveness. And for students, it offers financial literacy programs and convenient, flexible and affordable transaction options to help them manage their finances. Higher One is a leader in higher education, supporting more than 1,900 schools and 13 million enrolled students. More information about Higher One can be found at www.higherone.com.

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