Blugold Central: merging student services

UW-Eau Claire brings together five departments of student services into one office

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UW-Eau Claire’s Blugold Central combines five departments of student services into one location. Students are able to access the services in person or online as needed. Links for online: Blugold Central =

Over the summer, UW-Eau Claire merged student services, a network of resources originally provided by five different departments, into one central hub for students: Blugold Central.

“In the past they might have had to stand in three different lines,” Durwin Long, executive director of Blugold Central,  said.  “Now they can come to Blugold Central and have multiple transactions performed at the same time.”

Campus officials formed Blugold Central to achieve operational efficiencies in response to the budget cuts and improve the quality of service to students, Long said. The office consists of a check-in area for students, a waiting area, counters and separate rooms for personal services and access to veteran services.

After opening its doors June 6, 2016, in the old library, Blugold Central welcomed the first batch of visitors during the three-week new student orientations that started on June 13.

With both a physical office and an online presence, Blugold Central offers services formerly provided by Parking Services, the Business Office, Continuing Education, Records and Registration and Financial Aid.

Cherylin Yealey, a junior health care administration student, said she enjoyed being able to pay her bills and get a parking pass in a single convenient location.

“That was my second time going into Blugold Central and it is nice using one area for all different departments,” Yealey said.

Because fall 2016 is the maiden voyage for the new hub, director of Student Services Nicole Andrews said they are still determining what works best for them and the students.

“We’re learning as we go and we are very eager to hear from students on suggestions for how we can improve services,” Andrews said. “Right now is really about continuous process of improvement.”

After students go to Blugold Central and utilize their services, they are asked to take a Qualtrics survey to gather feedback on their experience, Andrews said.

An employee of Blugold Central, Sarah Kocken, started working for the university in the Continuing Education office as a financial aid specialist and now splits her time between the two.

Kocken said she enjoys working closely with students and has noticed that even though it can  get very busy around the office, the students are happy with the services they receive.

“I usually come in here and see a large line but the students have been very patient with this new transition,” Kocken said. “It seems like they really enjoy being able to come here for a parking permit but also get questions answered about their bill.”

As it is becomes increasingly busy with the school year starting back up again, Andrews said the first months of operation are going well and they are focusing on meeting students’ needs.

“For students right now, yes, there is a line,” Andrews said, “but hopefully when you get up there you are well served and you feel that your needs are being met.”

Over time, Long said he hopes students are able to access more services online, which will make it easier to get the business of being a student done.

Long said Blugold Central’s goal for this semester is to learn from the students and faculty on how to improve their services for the future.