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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 6, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 6
ISIS Project Takes First Big Steps

Barb Shaffer is the newly named executive director of the ISIS project.

Admissions offices are the first to use the Web-based system

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

ISIS dwells among us. While that might sound ominous, it's magic to thousands of ears.

Although still 24 months away from full implementation, the Internet Student Information System is out of the starting gate, as a permanent executive director for the project has been appointed and ISIS's development teams have knocked down the first in a series of "go live" target dates.

As of fall semester, a common database has been created, and the Peabody, Part-Time Engineering and undergraduate Arts and Sciences and Engineering admissions offices have implemented the ISIS admissions module, which allows them to enter and track prospects and applicants. The software also makes it possible to send out automatic e-mail confirmations upon receipt of materials.

Begun in March 2001, ISIS is a Web-based system that will effectively store in one place the records of all current full-time and part-time Johns Hopkins students. It is designed to be a user-friendly gateway to their school-related financial and academic details. Upon its full implementation in the summer of 2005, students will be able to apply to Johns Hopkins, register for classes, receive their grades and access financial aid and billing information through a single portal.

The system is divided into four "modules"--admissions, billing, financial aid and records/registration--that are integrated by a common database and software. The user can sign into the system's home page and link to all existing modules. The 24/7 service will be provided to students, staff and faculty in all eight of the university's academic divisions. The School of Medicine, however, will participate in only the financial aid and billing modules.

The School of Professional Studies in Business and Education will go live with its admissions module later this month, followed by the School of Arts and Sciences' Advanced Academic Programs in November.

The further implementation of the system will take place incrementally, with financial aid and student billing modules set to go live sometime in 2004, and the records/registration module scheduled for completion by summer 2005.

In September, Barb Shaffer was named executive director of the ISIS project, replacing Robert Evans, an independent consultant who had served as project director. Prior to her new post, Shaffer was senior director of enrollment management at SPSBE.

Shaffer says that while implementation is proceeding mostly as planned, students and staff should realize that the journey to completion is far from over.

"What we have attempted to undertake is huge. The various legacy systems used by the eight schools were not integrated, even at the school level, much less across the university. We'll get there, but it's not an easy or straightforward path," Shaffer said. "What we do have is a structure in place and teams of dedicated and talented people who are working together to implement this system."

The ISIS team leaders, or functional architects, for each module are:

Admissions: Steve Hellen, from IT@Johns Hopkins-Student Information Services.

Common: Craig Smith, associate registrar for information systems in Homewood's Office of the Registrar.

Financial Aid: Thomas McDermott, associate director of financial aid systems in Homewood's Financial Aid Office.

Records and Registration: Teresa Schwartz, director of records and registration in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Office of the Registrar, and Linda Blankenship, registrar in the School of Nursing.

Student Billing: Barbara Warren, director of tax/payroll in the Office of the Controller, and Beth Bishop, manager of Homewood Student Accounts.

In addition, the IT project director for ISIS is Denise Antinori, and IT project managers are Melissa Beneway and Geoffrey Corb.

"There are almost 300 people involved in this project, as it really is that enormous and that complex," Shaffer said. "But when it's all said and done, we will be better able to serve our customers and provide them with high-quality Web-based services."

The impetus for creating a new student database was a need to integrate existing disparate systems, allowing users to get all the information they need from one place.

With the new system, student information will be shared across modules as soon as it's entered. For example, when a student provides an address and phone number to an admissions office, that information will be instantly usable by other offices, such as financial aid. By using ISIS, faculty will be able to post grades, manage advisees and monitor class enrollment, all in real time. For staff in the admissions, financial aid, student accounts and registrars' offices, ISIS will be a tool to automate repetitive tasks and provide the flexibility to respond quickly to changing market demands.

"This software is highly configurable so that it will accommodate the diverse business practices of the eight schools of Hopkins while providing enough of the same look and feel that students can know they are at Johns Hopkins University, whether they are a student at Peabody or SPSBE," Shaffer said.

To learn more about ISIS, go to To register for the ISIS listserve that will offer periodic updates on the project's status, click on "More Information."


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