Regents consider revamping online financial system

Paul Sand

In a step aimed at revamping the University’s 11-year-old online financial system, the Board of Regents plans to discuss installation of a new system in a committee meeting Thursday.

Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said the College and University Financial System, which links University department budgets and financial data, is crucial to the institution’s day-to-day operations.

But the system is outdated, making it difficult to find technical support, he said.

“Without it, we can’t do business Ö we can’t pay bills, we can’t collect tuition,” Pfutzenreuter said.

While the replacement costs for the system have not been finalized, he said, they could go as high as $20 million.

In October, the University included funds to replace the system in its 2004-05 biennium request to the state, Pfutzenreuter said.

Replacing the University’s financial system has not been a high priority in recent years as the institution replaced its human resources, library and student services systems.

The recent system replacements have left the University financial system as the only one on the institution’s mainframe, Pfutzenreuter said.

Replacing the financial system will allow the University to save money by shutting down its mainframe system, he said.

Pfutzenreuter said the University expressed interest in buying new financial system software from PeopleSoft, the company that provided the institution’s human resources and student services systems.

University students experienced delays in financial aid disbursements when the student services system was implemented in 1996.

Pfutzenreuter said the new financial system would likely not have as many problems as the student system because the software would be less customized.

The University will proceed with caution because of the challenges with replacing the University-wide system, he said.

“Clearly we’re not going to be entering a wholesale replacement of CUFS this biennium,” he said, “but the issue of when we’re going to start it and at what pace is still on the table.”

In other regent news, University officials will update the board Friday on the 2004-05 budget.

Provost Christine Maziar said the University is excited about the apparent legislative support for higher education funding.

Senate Democrats introduced a proposal Monday that would allot $150 million more than Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s plan.

A House Republican proposal last week called for $50 million more than the governor’s plan.

In February, Pawlenty recommended a $185 million reduction for the University and a 15 percent tuition-increase cap.

Maziar said it is unclear how more state higher education funding would be split among the University, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the state’s Higher Education Services Office.

“Hopefully that as the process continues in St. Paul, the Legislature will put more money in higher education,” she said.

Paul Sand covers the University Board of Regents and administration. He welcomes comments at [email protected]