Collaboration saves university money, aids in student success

YSU faculty members now have a new way to track student success thanks to a campus collaboration to build a new in-house software solution. More than a dozen individuals from several university departments are credited with creating the new Early Academic Report System, allowing YSU faculty to identify students with academic concerns and to share that information with those who can help.

The need for the product came when YSU made the strategic decision not to renew its contract with Starfish, a software that YSU has used for many years for early identification of students facing academic challenges, said Claire Berardini, associate provost for Student Success.

The contract came up for renewal at the end of July while the university was evaluating other software options. Berardini, who spearheaded the effort to build a new system, said creating EARS in-house allows the university additional time to find the best overall and also saves the university approximately $40,000 this year.

“We basically needed a group who could approach this challenge from a variety of perspectives,” said Berardini, who added that the entire project was completed in less than four weeks.

The project team consisted of:

  • Marianne Cohol, ITS, served as project manager.
  • Josh Bodnar, Honors College, developed the application and database.
  • Justin Bettura, Troy Evans and Tasha Wells, ITS, provided IT infrastructure support.
  • Maureen Drabison, ITS, wrote the Banner integration. 
  • Rosalyn Donaldson and Sharyn Zembower, ITS, developed end-user training and instructions.
  • Becky Rose, Marketing and Communications, coordinated messaging to campus.
  • Bob Tupaj, Marketing and Communications, enabled access to the alert system.
  • Becky Varian, Center for Student Progress, served as the subject matter expert.

Berardini also credited Jim Yukech, associate vice president and chief information officer, and Amy Cossentino, dean of the Honors College, for reprioritizing within their areas to make the project a success. Knowing that Bodnar had already built something comparable for the Honors College, Yukech reached out to Cossentino asking for Bodnar’s expertise.

“Amy allowed Josh to focus his time on this effort. Without her understanding, collegiality and deep commitment to YSU students, we would not have been able to accomplish what we did,” Berardini said.

The EARS system was up and running by Aug. 30. Faculty members can access EARS at any time during the semester through the Penguin Portal.