October 24, 2001

SPUDs to Be Replaced by New Program

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The degree-auditing system commonly known as SPUDs — or Student Progress toward reaching Undergraduate Degree requirements system — provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, returned online Sept. 26 after a brief period of being disconnected.

Seniors and juniors, scrambling to update their distribution requirements before graduation or pre-enrollment, logged on to the site en masse even before the services encountered a mild glitch.

“We received many inquiries before it went off-line,” said Doralee Woodin, senior records administrator, adding that she received 150 e-mails this semester and 200 last semester from concerned students who had questions ranging from the transfer of advanced placement credit to the requirements of their particular major.

The on-line student reports provided by SPUDs became available in 1998 to replace the archaic system of paper transcripts, which are still used by all the other colleges other than Arts and Sciences.

“I found SPUDs very helpful in determining what requirements I had to fulfill. But when I had to check my graduation requirements it was down. I was pretty disappointed with the system when it wasn’t available,” Ty Atkins ’02 said.

Seniors scrambling to turn in their degree-reports applications to graduate expressed frustration after the system went off-line between Sept. 24 and Sept. 26. The minor “bug” that caused the problem did not affect the content of the student records, according to Frank Strickland, director of computer services for the arts college.

Now that the system is back online, any corrections made to a student’s report can be viewed on-line within a week, according to Danielle Rotach, programmer analyst.

“We’ve been inundated with phone calls,” said Brenda Lind, director of undergraduate admissions for the arts college, who is in charge of updating the SPUDS webpage. “It’s a good second check for us too. Students have an opportunity to tell us of any errors in counting their requirements.”

Although SPUDs currently updates student records manually, an automated version to be known as Distributed Undergraduate Student Tracking — or DUST — will use a PeopleSoft interface. The new system will eliminate the one percent “finger-slip” margin of error in counting student requirements.

“We believe it is critically important to begin implementation [of the DUST system] this year to help provide better and more accurate information to advisors” said David Yeh, vice president for academic and student affairs.

The new automated system, slated to replace SPUDS by Fall 2002, will have an option to allow faculty advisors to view their advisees progress toward fulfilling their degrees and graduating, according to Lind.

“What SPUDs did for us, even though we’re still manually entering records, is provide a really good reporting system to tell us who is eligible for graduation, who hasn’t fulfilled their P.E. requirements and who is currently on leave,” she said.

“It saves you shoe-leather. You can [check your report] from your dorm room. Systems in the future will be able to update you week by week where you stand,” Stricklind said.

Archived article by Dan Webb