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AUK IT Team Wins Innovation Award at the Ellucian Live Conference In New Orleans

The Information Technology (IT) Department at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) was awarded the 2015 Ellucian Innovation Award at the Ellucian Live conference in New Orleans, USA. The award highlights customers (over 1,200 colleges and universities) who use Ellucian solutions and services in innovative ways to provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Ellucian recognized AUK for specifically addressing student challenges in both registration and communication - both of which improved the overall student experience. AUK is the first award recipient outside the United States.

AUK IT was initially invited to the conference to present its implementation of Ellucian technology at the University over the past two years. Ellucian Live is a technology conference that brings together over eight thousand participants from higher education institutions around the world to discuss technology in education. Rusty Bruns, Chief Information Officer, and Hussein Diab, Database Operations Manager, presented on behalf of AUK; one of only two presentations from the Middle East. Their presentation, "Workflow - Going Green," highlighted the implementation of Ellucian's Banner Workflow, software constructed to help streamline processes and reduce paperwork, and shared other steps the University has been taking to minimize its environmental footprint.

Ellucian offers a wide selection of products and services aimed at facilitating processes in institutions of higher education. To help streamline the process of course override requests, AUK turned to Workflow, software that automates the process, eliminating paper waste and improving processing time. In the Fall 2014 semester, the Office of the Registrar received and processed nearly 2,000 overrides, each one required multiple signatures on the paper-based requests - a time consuming and environmentally irresponsible process. After implementing Ellucian Workflow, which is fully integrated with AUK's Banner System and is completely electronic, the processing time for overrides was reduced from a 2-day process to a 10-minute one.

Applying the Workflow software is part of an ongoing effort by AUK to be more environmentally conservative. In 2011, AUK began phasing out inkjet printers and replacing them with Xerox multifunction printers that require security codes to operate. This enabled the University to track the usage of printers and monitor paper consumption, reducing printing by approximately two million pages after one year, saving the equivalent of 250 trees and effectively cutting the cost of printing by half, making AUK eligible for refunds worth thousands of dollars from Xerox. AUK has also been encouraging instructors to start using Moodle, software that allows them to personalize their coursework electronically, as an alternative to paper-based teaching methods. As a result, there are now almost 54,000 documents uploaded to Moodle and around 57 faculty members teaching 123 sections on the software.

The 2015 Ellucian Innovation Award recognized two specific innovations at AUK: the use of Banner Workflow to replace the manual course override process and the use of Ellucian Mobile, where students can see news feed messages including grades, schedules, events and maps all on their mobile phones. Ellucian Live provided a platform for AUK to share these eco-friendly technological strategies it has been applying with other educational institutions, and to support efforts to reduce waste and increase productivity worldwide. The event also included a variety of keynote speakers such as Sal Khan, Founder of Khan Academy, and Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code and a learning lab where participants can test-drive a number of cutting edge educational technologies.

Rusty Bruns, Chief Information Officer, and Hussein Diab, Database Operations Manager