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Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty/Staff in Academic Departments


SIMS after shutdown on March 22, 2013

Question: What happens with SIMS after the shutdown on Friday, March 22, 4 pm?

Answer: After a maintenance period (and maybe as early as March 25) SIMS will become available again, but with all access rights involving data input or modification (like SUS) stripped for all users in academic departments.  The old login information will still work but access will be restricted to "look up" only, e.g., you can look up a student transcript, but it will be frozen and no updates can be done. All future modifications will have to be done in CUNYfirst. Also, not all information from SIMS as of March 22 will be ported to the CUNYfirst; e.g., if you have entered class permissions for summer 2013 in SIMS (not following instructions), you will not see them in CUNYfirst after go live. But if you need to look up a student transcript, do so in SIMS when available again; do not rely on information retrieved from the simulation/training environment.  (3/20/13)

Effect on Blackboard (Bb)

Question: Is Blackboard affected by the transition to CUNYfirst?

Answer: Student enrollment and instructor names are refreshed (daily) based on data pulled from SIMS (the process is known as "running snapshot"). With SIMS being frozen on March 22, there is no new information available in SIMS going forward and thus no updates as to students adding (really late, isolated special cases) or dropping. And given that the naming of classes  (like the institution prefix is now "HTR01") and -- more importantly -- the section numbering (e.g., no more 51, 52 for evening classes) is different in CUNYfirst, the date feed from CUNYfirst cannot be used either. Starting with the summer 2013 term, the daily Blackboard update will resume as class naming/numbering will be consistent again between CUNYfirst and Blackboard. 

For the rest of spring 2013, students added late (by the registrar's office) will be added manually to Blackboard rosters by the Hunter Blackboard support group. However, student drops will not appear in the Blackboard roster. Consult your class roster in CUNYfirst (after go live) for any such changes. (3/20/13)

Student status (withdrawal) information

Question:  Where can I see whether a student has officially withdrawn from a class?

Answer:  If you are interested in a particular student, access the student's "course history" via the "Advisor Center" (see how; should be available to all full-time faculty).
Withdrawal information is also available via the class roster. Class rosters have an additional column labeled "Status notes" -- but only if at least one student has such a note. As  a design feature, empty columns are not shown.  (5/8/13)

Student major/minor/concentration information

Question:  Where can find information on a student's concentration?

Answer:  All "plan" and "sub-plan" (CUNYfirst lingo) information is included on the unofficial transcript  -- in plain English, not as numerical codes (as in SIMS). However, there are no specific fields. So, if a student does not have a concentration, it simply does not show; there is no empty field labeled "concentration" or "sub-plan".  (5/8/13)

Transcripts for different programs/careers

Question:  Where can I select whether I want the unofficial undergraduate or the graduate transcript for a student?

Answer:  All available transcripts are made available in one pdf document via the "Advisor Center" (see how; should be available to all full-time faculty).  Just scroll through the document and notice the change in headers and page numbering.  (5/8/13)

Informed registration in the age of CUNYfirst

Question: How do we deal with "informed registration", where do we enter this information?

Answer: "Informed registration" was submitted by faculty via a special application and then displayed to students via the Hunter's online schedule of classes. The latter will be replaced by CUNYfirst, and there is no equivalent place in CUNYfirst to display this information, except for information on the textbook. Textbook information, which is required by law (HEOA), must be entered into CUNYfirst starting with summer 2013. Faculty can enter the textbook information for their own courses via the "Faculty Center" (a topic covered in the "CUNYfirst Basics for Faculty" workshops) and "super users" can enter textbook information for other faculty members via a different route ("quick guide"). Entering textbook information is actually much more convenient in CUNYfirst. For additional information a small box below the space for bibliographical details is available. There, a URL to a (departmental/faculty) web site with more information on the class could be entered. This is the best proxy we can offer at this moment. (3/22/13)

Access to transcripts for students at other CUNY schools

Question: Will we be able to access transcripts of students not at Hunter?

Answer: We have no indication that  transcripts for non-Hunter students will cease to be available.  We worked with  Lehman (which went live a year ago), provided them with the ID of a student who went from Hostos to Hunter, but was never affiliated with Lehman and they had no problem accessing the Hostos transcript for this student.  So, unless Central makes changes  that will affect the existing stage 1 and 2 schools as well (again, we have not been told about such plans), access will continue in the production environment. We also ran tests in the "UAT" (the testing) environment with the same result. However, it is important to use the path via the "Advisor Center"; another administrative path via "Record & Enrollments/Transcripts" (typically not accessible to faculty advisors anyway) will only work for transcript of Hunter students.

But should things  turn out differently  in the production version of CUNYfirst (an acute problem for the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter, a collaboration with other CUNY schools), we will  provide access through a separate system called BOE for users with demonstrated need. (3/17/13)

Entering permissions for all sections of a class doing one entry

Question: Will we be able to enter class permissions for all sections  with one entry, as we can do now in SIMS?

Answer: Lehman College -- which went  live a year ago -- requested such a modification of the software (providing a check box saying "apply permissions to all sections of this class"), and this modification was put into production in the first week of may. We updated the matching quick guide to document this addition. (5/8/13)

Post enrollment requisite checking (PERC)

Question: Will CUNYfirst offer improvements in terms of PERC? Currently it is a mostly manual process for the math department.

Answer: PERC , i.e., departments granting permission expecting that a student will pass (or meet some other grade threshold in) a currently taken class (pre-requisite), for which no grade have yet been assigned and then re-checking the availability of the upcoming class to the student after the grades have been submitted, has been available in SIMS. For some departments  like Romance Languages the current SIMS process works well, for other department like Mathematics much has to be done manually. We have not fully tested the PERC component in CUNYfirst, so our answer is a tentative "maybe" at this point.  For this first round, expect the current practice to be followed, i.e., if the automated process worked for you in SIMS, it will work in CUNYfirst.  Also, some departments prefer to take a look at a list of students and make individual decisions rather than drop automatically based on set criteria.  (3/17/13)


Question: Where do we give permits to attend a class at another school in CUNYfirst?

Answer: Students  and faculty will continue to use e-Permit which can be accessed by logging in to the CUNY portal. No change.  All CUNYfirst processing will be done by staff in the Registrar's office. (3/17/13)

Quick overview of seats taken per section (CIQ/CSQ option in SIMS)

Question: What is the equivalent function in CUNYfirst?

Answer: Use the "departmental class rosters" menu item (available to "super users") to get such a quick overview (matching quick guide). In contrast to SIMS, these are real time figures, no time delay. (5/8/13)

Overview of registration activity  by student (RIQ option in SIMS)

Question: What is the equivalent function in CUNYfirst?

Answer: Use the "Records and Enrollment > Enrollment Summaries > Enrollment Summary" path (screenshot). (3/17/13)

Advisors sharing comments on students

Question: Is there a place in CUNYfirst where advisors can enter comments about students to share with other advisors?

Answer:  Not really. There is a "Comments" component in CUNYfirst, but it is not really intended for "advisor self-service".  What you have in mind  requires special software  as used in student services offices.  An academic department probably does not need a complex and sophisticated system, but there are many products on the market varying in complexity, sophistication, and price.  Do a Google search on "student advising software" to get a sense.  -- There is a "Comments" box on the class permission page, but this only for comments related to  the granting of this  permission. -- for a specific class section.   See also the Q&A on "transcript comments" below. (3/17/13)

Transcript comments

Question: Does CUNYfirst offer the option of entering internal transcript comments?

Answer: Transcript comment (internal and external), as in SIMS, is available but only  on the administrative side.  Since comments attach to a transcript, the external comments are reserved for information necessary for public view in keeping with AACRAO (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers) standards.  Faculty should use DegreeWorks (DIG) to place general comments related to their conversation with students related to advise  they gave students so that the student and/or next advisor is aware of your advice.  For example, student advised if she/he gets an A+ in MATH 125, she/he will be exempted  from MATH 150. 

All comments, including Transcript internal and DegreeWorks, are covered under FERPA.  Therefore a student has a right to view them. (3/17/13)

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