Mississippi Public Universities
2006 Student Services Winners
First Place: University of Mississippi
"Student Financial Services Help-Line"
The Financial Aid Office and the Bursar's Office both provide service to high numbers of students and have difficulty managing incoming telephone traffic effectively and efficiently during periods of peak activity. The two offices collaborated on a solution and outsourced their main telephone lines to Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae's Campus Assist service offered the university a fully-equipped call center with telephone agents that are dedicated to the university's needs. While outsourcing is common, the service is unique because Campus Assist agents are cross-trained on both Financial Aid and Bursar issues, offering a seamless experience for students and families who want to discuss their college costs-and how to pay for them. Campus Assist agents have access to the financial aid and bursar computer systems, and there is ongoing training, coordination, conferencing, and informal communication between managers in the Financial Aid and Bursar offices and the Campus Assist supervisory personnel. In addition, an online manual detailing policies, procedures and other important documentation is available to Campus Assist agents. Because of the sophistication of the system, call numbers and outcomes can be tracked as never before. Statistics are provided on calls received, wait time for callers, and referrals made back to the campus offices. Staffing needs are then matched with seasonal business volume. Of the 224,413 calls handled by Campus Assist, agents resolved 87.66 percent, returning only 12.34 percent to the university offices for follow-up.
Second Place: Mississippi University for Women
"The Balanced Way"
The Balanced Way program is a new campaign to promote healthy learning, eating and living through balanced meals, educational sessions, wellness activities, fun competitions and prizes. The comprehensive program offers flavorful meals and snacks designed to provide energy for optimal performance and nutrients for fighting diseases. The meals are based on calorie density, and a balanced plate features 50 percent vegetables and fruits, 25 percent lean protein, and 25 percent whole-grain, fiber-rich carbohydrates. Food options include nontraditional foods with a healthy flair as well as traditional and comfort foods that have been transformed into lighter, healthier fare. The Balanced Way teaches participants how to visualize portion sizes and how to make balanced choices without dieting. The Balanced Way campaign was launched in August. Posters were placed in high-traffic areas, buttons and brochures were distributed to staff and students, and attendees at special informational meetings were treated to a Balanced Way lunch. Breakfast bundles were delivered to students in residence halls, and students have been encouraged to participate in a competition to redesign snacks using healthy ingredients. The campaign has also targeted faculty and staff with several promotional events. Through the Balanced Way program, the Mississippi University for Women is doing its part to combat the dangerously high levels of obesity in the state.