Lawrence is in the process of instituting a new addition to the campus computer systems called the BANNER System. Stephen Hirby of the Registrar’s Office and Jeanne Loehnis of Computer Services explained the reasons behind the change. According to Hirby, in an age of rapidly developing technology, it is important for Lawrence to maintain a strong computer system. The BANNER System is a computer program for the purposes of creating more efficient administrative record-keeping functions. The BANNER System is more modern and will help provide computer support throughout the campus.
Hirby and Loehnis say that formerly their computer programs were office-specific, created over the past twenty years. It has become increasingly evident that a more uniform system is necessary. Hirby explained, “The senior administration of the university concluded that continuing to rely on those systems exposed the university to significant risk as the technology continued to age and the number of people who knew the systems and could maintain or enhance them shrunk.” Loehnis added that it has become harder and harder to keep the older systems functional, saying, “Maintaining or enhancing these systems has become, in some cases, impossible.”
After careful consideration, BANNER was considered the best choice for computer re-programming. Hirby explained that there are a number of incentives for instituting BANNER. He states, “The major reasons for the change were minimizing risk, gaining a campus-wide information perspective, and becoming part of a broader user community rather than relying solely on our own resources.” He went on to say that about forty percent of higher education institutions use BANNER programming. The easier transfer of information will effect past, present, and future Lawrence students.
When asked about the effects of the new system on Lawrence students, Hirby stated that he believes Lawrentians will not immediately be aware of the various changes. He explained by saying that, as time goes by, students will discover that more and more information about Lawrence will be available on the internet. Students may eventually be able to obtain personal information about financial aid and billing on the web, as well as register online.
One of the most significant changes will be the eventual student registration for courses online. In addition, Hirby explains, student profiles will eventually be developed on a database. Student involvement in organizations will be tabulated in order to generate a better understanding of a student’s interests and potentials for the future. Loehnis added that the more uniform interface would assist students who are involved in interdisciplinary pursuits.
Loehnis feels that the BANNER System will improve and enhance many forms of computer use for Lawrentians. She believes that “Lawrence is fortunate to have the support of a large company and a solid and versatile database product behind its administrative systems and the in-house expertise to expand on the capabilities as needs arise.” Hirby concurs, saying, “We hope this will be helpful to students as they conduct career explorations, and we anticipate that faculty and advisors will find the information helpful as well as they work with students and provide recommendations for them.