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Improving Service to StudentsCollege of Health and Human Development

The Challenge: How to Improve and Simplify Student Services Across the College

The College of Health and Human Development Student Services Center (SSC) identified key processes for student services within the College. In these processes, the level of activity was high, and responding to requests was both paper and labor intensive. For example, SSC and departments within the College were receiving an average of 3000 requests for academic exceptions for general education and major requirements per year from students at all of Penn State’s campuses. Because of the paper forms and variation in departmental processes, students were not sure when or whether their requests had been approved.

The Solution: Putting the Academic Exceptions Process On-line

A team comprised of Student Services Center (SSC) staff and departmental advisers was charged with reviewing College procedures for undergraduate student services to streamline and simplify all of the processes while improving academic services. The team reviewed processes for Reinstatement, Re-enrollment and Academic Renewal, Change of Major, Change of Location, and Academic Exceptions/Petitions.

Team member Shelie Waite developed and presented the most effective ways to improve the Academic Exceptions/Petitions process, which included a list of working guidelines to establish College-wide consistency and an electronic course substitution petition form. The new e-Petition for Course Substitution System is available on-line to HHD advising staff across the University. A petition is submitted by an adviser or College Contact and Referral Representative (CCRR), and has pre-established approval paths. The campus at which the student is based is not a factor in how quickly the request is processed or when the student receives a response. In addition, students and advisers are automatically, electronically, notified of all decisions. The automated process also provides more accurate statistics for the SSC and eliminates the time needed to fill out and file handwritten forms and to notify students and advisers of decisions.

Fred W. Vondracek, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Outreach, College of Health and Human Development, noted that “the College is pleased to be part of efforts to make Penn State a truly student-centered university.”

For more information about this team, contact Margaret Sebastianelli at

June 2005

Shelie Waite
Shelie Waite, College Records Manager, College of Health and Human Development
"The e-Petition for Course Substitution system is a secure, electronic application that follows pre-set approval paths and offers features such as: unlimited space for multiple requests on one form..." more
Laura Pauley
Vanessa Wade, Academic Adviser,
Department of Human Development and Family Studies,
College of Health and Human Development
"I am pleased that the e-Petition program is finally available for use. This efficient instrument is easy to operate, eliminates excess paper, and has the potential to be a time-saver in the decision making process..." more

   Fred W. Vondracek

Team Leader:
   Margaret Sebastianelli
Project Leader:
   Shelie Waite

   Sue Barsom
   Doreen Diehl
   Elaine Ebeling
   Brenda Eissenstat
   Diane Jankura
   Pam Evock
   Julie Gibboney
   Lisa Myers
   Ro Nwranski
   David Rachau
   Staci Schreiber
   Norrine Sims
   Vanessa Wade
   Shelie Waite
   Barbara Sherlock

© 2005. Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment   502 Rider II University Park, PA 16802-4819   (814) 863-8721   fax (814) 863-7031