Texas A&M, a research-intensive flagship university in College Station, is one of the many institutions using Liaison’s CAS solution to help drive applications at the graduate level. The university’s Senior Associate Director of Admissions, Catherine Roueche-Herdman, and I recently collaborated on a presentation at experience: LIAISON | Seattle, sharing:
- insights on the value of CAS
- tips on implementation
- thoughts on what other schools should consider and anticipate
I’ve had the pleasure of working with TAMU for over three years and wanted to write an article for those in the Liaison community who missed our presentation, Gaining Consensus: The True Story Behind TAMU’s Successful CAS Integration. It dawned on me that this is not my story to tell, but rather, Catherine’s. She put in the work, took the time, and led her campus to great success. So instead, this is her account of how a large, decentralized graduate admissions office led their campus to incredible success.
Catherine, explain where Texas A&M was prior to adopting CAS on campus.
Prior to using WebAdMIT for application review, Texas A&M University utilized the ApplyTexas application in combination with a handful of home-grown and out-of-the-box solutions for application review. The concerns were not expressly with the application system itself, but with the ability of academic departments to review applicants on their schedules. With each attempt at providing an effective review portal, three issues persisted:
- Admissions was first to receive the documents and could become a bottleneck
- Accessibility issues involving Java versions and firewalls arose
- Not all of the information needed for a comprehensive review was available in one place
So how would you characterize the main problems you were trying to solve when looking for a new solution?
As we progressed through review options, we were attempting to deliver the application materials to graduate programs more efficiently with fewer accessibility issues. None of our previous options provided all application data—educational background, test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, etc.—in one portal.
And why did you choose Liaison? How did their tools show they would help alleviate some of the issues Texas A&M was facing?
Liaison captured our attention with EngineeringCAS. Our College of Engineering had been our development partner and pilot college for the latest IT-built review system but was still not satisfied with our product. They became aware of EngineeringCAS and made the first move by launching fall 2019 applications in EngineeringCAS. Within one year of this implementation, other programs on campus had witnessed Engineering’s satisfaction with the scoring, assignment, reporting, and CRM functions in WebAdMIT, and were eager to “hop aboard.”
Once the decision was made, how did the implementation go? Tell us about onboarding.
We approached implementation using a two-pronged approach. My colleague in the Graduate and Professional School served as the functional lead and collected points of contact for each college, developed and distributed communications, and scheduled trainings. I led the technical side of integration and liaised with our two IT groups to design the data and document extracts. I attribute most of our success to a concerted effort to involve the stakeholders very early in the process. The campus community was invited to participate in pre-sale demonstrations and felt involved in the selection process. Their buy-in facilitated the configuration process.
What should other schools anticipate/expect if they were to follow a similar path?
Institutions can expect to receive a level of support and collaboration that may seem unconventional. Texas A&M has implemented three separate CASs in just over two years (EngineeringCAS, BusinessCAS, and UniCAS – or University-wide CAS), and Liaison representatives guided our advisor teams through designation configurations, were available as a resource for IT groups, and provided numerous trainings to the campus community. This support is critical because initial integration is a bit of a heavy lift, but once you have built processes to consume the application data, onboarding other CAS systems is much simpler.
Why is CAS an important tool on your campus today?
CAS (application) and WebAdMIT (application review) have completely changed how graduate applications are collected and reviewed at Texas A&M University. Graduate advisors now have access to communicate with prospective applicants who have started applications for their programs and may utilize the built-in CRM tool to actively encourage submission and completion. Fine-grained access controls ensure that committee reviewers view only necessary information on target applicants. Finally, programs have access to customize their application(s) and edit their deadlines as necessary, which has alleviated many concerns they expressed with ApplyTexas and helped the central office from having to do all that work themselves.
Every campus has its own workflow issues, staffing problems, and political headaches, but Liaison can help any campus be successful using CAS. Catherine’s leadership and vision at Texas A&M University led her campus to a successful implementation and their success continues years later.
If you’d like to learn more about this implementation or how CAS can help drive enrollment and simplify operations on your campus, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by:
Jillian Baer, Solutions Consultant, Liaison
Catherine Roueche-Herdman, Senior Associate Director of Admissions, Texas A&M University