Each summer, the mailboxes of incoming Penn freshmen are bombarded with mailings dealing with everything from dining plans to telephone services. But this year, thanks to a new program that packages together information on many campus services and allows students to make some decisions via the Internet, some mailmen had less to deliver. This summer marked the launch of Campus Express at Penn, a program with two main initiatives: A guide to the campus services offered at the University -- which was mailed to students -- and Campus Express Online, a Web site that complements the brochure. "What we really hope to achieve with Campus Express is promoting good customer service and one-stop shopping," said Amy Johnson, the director of external relations at the University Business Office. Johnson said the program is designed to "pull together all those bulky mailings into one package" and "take information and boil it down to the essentials," to make it easier for students to understand. She called the guide a Penn "bible" and an "owner's manual" to life at the University. The Campus Express mailing brings together information on housing, dining, telephone and mail services, transportation and parking, PennCards, the Penn Bookstore and Computer Connection. Campus Express Online provides students with direct access to certain campus services, allowing students to sign up for dining plans and access information about their housing online. New students can also set up their Penn e-mail accounts on Campus Express Online. During the summer, Johnson said, the program was successful, noting that in the two weeks after the brochure notifying students was sent out, over 800 students logged onto the web site. "The anecdotal evidence has been Othis is fabulous,'" she said, adding that she was "thrilled with the results." Johnson and a team of 19 Penn administrators developed the idea for Campus Express last summer, and together they spent the past year seeing the project to fruition. "We're really proud of this program because it is a truly University-wide approach," she said, noting that the cooperation of all of Penn's schools was necessary to allow students to set up e-mail online. Guided by customer service and focus group feedback, the committee decided that students' needs could best be met by combining information in one mailing and putting it online. "All of us had been seeing the future, which is how can we get more services online," Johnson said. While she could not provide the exact cost of the entire project because of contributions by an outside donor, she said the budget was "extremely modest." Johnson said the University will adjust both the web site and the print brochure as they get student feedback. But the University does not intend to eliminate paper forms, Johnson said, because not all students have easy access to computers at home. While forms like the dining services contract can be completed online, a hard copy will still be sent home to students. "One of the things we're sensitive to is not everyone has online access," Johnson saidComments powered by Disqus
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