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WSU Vancouver Chancellor Netzhammer talks zzusis: Website collects feedback on troubled system

Approximately 100 WSU Vancouver students, faculty and staff gathered on Oct. 22 at the first “Campus Conversation” with Chancellor Mel Netzhammer to air concerns about zzusis, the university’s online student information system.

The new zzusis system went live last June. Although hyped as an improvement to the prior student information system, zzusis has been blamed at all WSU campuses for bungled financial aid processing and complications in student record keeping and class registration.
The forum was attended by WSU Vancouver faculty, staff and students.

The majority of complaints concerned financial aid. Students shared stories about the negative impact this fall’s delay in financial aid has had on their lives. Faculty members raised concerns about poor usability and limited access stemming from security policies instituted on the Pullman campus.

Discussion focused on two key issues: Will zzusis and financial aid be fixed by next semester, and who to contact with problems and needs for zzusis-related issues.

Netzhammer said determining a chain of command for zzusis problems will be a priority at his next Cabinet meeting.

Viji Murali, vice president of information services and chief information officer for WSU Pullman, attended the meeting. She blamed the problems with zzusis on two factors.

When the original student information system failed, it required a quicker-than-expected implementation of the new system.

Secondly, the data setup from the old system was incompatible with the new system, forcing a manual conversion of all data. This process was not completed correctly across the board.

In addition, Murali blamed understaffing and inadequate system testing for some of the problems. She said the university information systems team is doing “everything possible” to fix the system before spring semester begins.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd has funded additional staff to help fix the problem. A full-time consultant from Oracle, the software designer for zzusis, has been employed strictly to test the system.

“If we don’t go home for Christmas, that’s what it is,” Murali said. “We will be working to make sure that as much as possible will be fixed before next semester.”

Murali said the number one priority is to get the student data problem fixed.

Murali noted all complaints and promised to review and address them in Pullman. A website to collect feedback, concerns and complaints about zzusis is available at inside.vancouver.wsu.edu/. A functional WSU user ID and password are required to access the web-based form. Murali asked staff and faculty members to notify the information systems department in Pullman via the website regarding security and access needs.

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