The Student Sunrise project will advance our educational mission at WashU. A central component of the project is replacing our Student Information System (SIS) and many additional student administrative systems with Workday’s Student platform. While our current SIS is old, fragile and in need of replacement, Student Sunrise is about much more than new technology.

Through this project, we are rethinking how we serve our students in key areas like registration, advising, curriculum management and student financials. We’re examining the structures, processes and policies supporting how students register for classes, track their progress, get support and more. Another key outcome is to make it easier for faculty and staff to access quality data to make informed decisions related to our educational mission. View full project scope.

The Student Sunrise project is a unique opportunity to examine the tools, processes, policies and structures that support our academic mission and to make enhancements that will better serve our students, faculty and academic staff, and WashU as whole.

Beverly Wendland, provost and Student Sunrise executive sponsor

Why Student Sunrise?

How we do things today

Today, WashU and its schools manage and secure more than 230 different student systems.  Our main, central Student Information System (SIS) is composed of 32 separate but connected homegrown technology systems, including systems like WebSTAC, WebFAC and WUCRSL.

SIS manages and records every aspect of the instruction and matriculation of our students, including:

  • Listing all courses for each term (descriptions, numbering, locations, time, instructor)
  • Managing the enrollment of students in classes
  • Capturing final grades and applying completed classes to students’ transcripts
  • Tracking tuition and billing
  • And much more

Included in this count are the systems that schools and other academic units have built or purchased to enhance operations in their area. For instance, Brown School runs a separate, homegrown student system, and the School of Medicine uses OASIS to manage curriculum. All schools use Microsoft Excel, Access and OneNote to help manage student information.

Current challenges

Our current SIS environment no longer meets our academic needs, and its age, fragility and limited functionality are core reasons for the proliferation of shadow systems within our schools and units. Four critical issues drive the need to replace our systems:

Deferred maintenance

Deferred maintenance limits functionality, leading to more systems. While homegrown platforms allow for custom design, they make modernization more complicated. SIS was developed in-house 20+ years ago on a mid-1990s technology called PowerBuilder. Today, it’s difficult to find developers who can code on this framework.

Evolving academic needs

Our current systems are not able to evolve with our academic programming or with students’ needs and interests. SIS cannot manage course enrollment based on student year, previous coursework or other prerequisites, leading to the creation of course waitlists, processes to manually drop students from courses and other cumbersome processes. Interdisciplinary students also suffer, as there is no accessible way to list interdisciplinary courses or support enrollment across school lines.

High number of manual processes

Restricted academic operations create unnecessary manual work for faculty and staff. As an example, Arts & Sciences runs a manual report to track which faculty teach which courses in a given term. To perform a degree audit, we currently have to run three reports in three separate systems for every single graduating student. There are many examples like these.

Data challenges

The number of student systems used across the university means that there is limited central data available to analyze, and what is available often follows inconsistent data definitions. These limitations make it difficult to run reports based on criteria – e.g. outcomes by demographic, course or program – hindering our ability to support our different student populations or make informed decisions about our programs.

Long-term benefits of the project

The Student Sunrise project, and Workday Student in particular, will solve or significantly mitigate these issues by unifying many of our academic processes, improving data quality and access, and providing functionality to support complex tasks. Additional benefits include:

Improved experience for students, faculty and staff

Streamlining our systems, processes and data will improve how students, faculty and the staff who support them perform essential academic functions. In Workday, students will have an easier time connecting with advisors and searching and registering for courses. Many tuition and fee calculations will be automated to reduce manual processes in Student Financial Services. Additionally, enrollment parameters will eliminate the need for faculty to manually drop students who do not meet requirements.

Modern systems

Workday Student will consolidate many of our current applications into a single, user-friendly system with mobile capabilities. And because we’re buying a system instead of building our own, we can better support the systems while addressing schools’ and students’ evolving needs into the future.

Data-driven decision making

The Student Sunrise project will unify and improve the quality of our student data, making it easier to produce essential analytics, like tracking who teaches what, completing degree audits, and assessing program effectiveness or student performance. Workday Student also shares a platform with our new human resources and finance system (Workday HCM and Finance) and will integrate with other university systems so data can easily be shared across functions.

What’s included in the Student Sunrise project?

Project scope

Workday Student will support much of the functionality currently managed by SIS and its shadow systems and processes. Additional projects will supplement Workday’s functionality or will prepare other university systems to share data with Workday. View the Student Sunrise project charter for a detailed look at the project scope.

Campus participation

Student Sunrise is committed to engaging students, faculty and staff throughout the project. Members of the university community will lend their expertise to system design, testing and training material development. They’ll also participate in critical project activities like determining security access, converting current data to Workday, and getting their units ready for the transition to our new tools. Learn more about how we are engaging the WashU community across the Student Sunrise initiatives.