Clarion Masthead

CUNYfirst, Users Last

By David Arnow,
Professor of Computer & Information Science
Brooklyn College
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[What’s your experience with CUNYfirst? We’d like to hear about it. Click "add new comment" at the bottom of this article to tell your story.]

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Every once in a while I get a question, either privately or in a department meeting, regarding CUNYfirst. Here is what I know of CUNYfirst, based on a few years of working with the project as a “training liaison” (which is a fancy term for room-scheduler):

1. The idea of CUNYfirst is a good one: to have a unified, integrated “enterprise”-scale system that encompasses all university/campus business processes. Such a system could, in principle at least, have saved a lot of expenditure on maintaining dozens of disparate, redundant, barely cooperating third-party systems. Such a system could have offered information access that would have benefited the administration, the staff, the faculty and the students.

2. However, CUNY Central’s motives in pursuing CUNYfirst were dominated by an agenda that is quite apart from such benefits. Rather, CUNY Central sought absolute control over all college activity, including curriculum. For example, whoever controls the catalog, the bulletin, the transcripts and the apparatus in general effectively controls curriculum. CUNYfirst will be part of the arsenal by which CUNY Central shoves Pathways down our throat. CUNY Central also sought the knowledge of, and therefore access to, any discretionary funds that the colleges may have.

3. The negotiations that were the run-up to the purchase of CUNYfirst were a travesty. The project required an expenditure of up to a billion dollars to do it right. CUNY Central offered far less. All but one of the bidders dropped out as a result: the project could not be done properly with what CUNY offered. Oracle-PeopleSoft did not drop out. However, they warned CUNY that for that level of funding, they could not, would not customize – they would only configure.

CUNY Central was so eager to have a centralized MIS [management information system] tool to use for its own centralizing, corporatizing agenda, that it totally ignored the implications of the Oracle “configure-only” limitation: business processes would have to be made to fit Oracle, not vice-versa. Capabilities that we now have will vanish. The staff, the faculty, the students would just have to “adjust” (the non-technical term being “suck it up”).

4. No large computer system is perfect, and there are trade-offs that come with each decision. CUNY could have addressed the challenge of having limited funds by narrowing the scope of the project somewhat. That might have made it possible to consider the widely used and highly regarded Banner system currently provided by Ellucian. Banner was developed for university environments from the start, so costly customization would have been less necessary. However, CUNY limited its own options because of its obsession with an all-encompassing, centralized system. In any case, Banner is not the only academic-oriented ERP [enterprise resource planning] system; there are others.

5. People knowledgeable about CUNYfirst say that about $600 million dollars has been spent so far – on a system that makes things worse. The actual cost far exceeds the $600 million dollars that goes to Oracle. Because processes are now much more inefficient, more people have to be hired to do tasks that were formerly automated or more burdens are placed on HEOs, clericals and even administrators on the executive plan.

Unknown and unseen to most faculty has been the toll that this takes on HEOs and to some extent clerical workers – the people who actually make the university run. (No, professor colleagues, you are important but you do not make the university run – though that is another discussion.)

HEOs have been forced to put in all sorts of extra hours – and too often have not received compensation. Some of this work is transitional, but some of it is systemic.

6. CUNYfirst does work. It just works badly.

  • The interface technology is laughable: it has the appearance of an early-’90s update of 3270 bi-synch technology. Web 2.0? Ha. Not even web 1.0.
  • The security model is totally inappropriate for CUNY: we will have work-study students performing tasks that require vast permissions, thus allowing them to access data of other students. When I log in to my faculty account, I am able to get names, birth dates and the last 4 digits of Social Security numbers of hundreds of students whom I have nothing to do with, who are not in my classes, my discipline or my college.
  • HR has had to struggle with the “problem” of an individual being a grad student enrolled in one campus, serving as an instructor at another campus and having a part-time office job in a third. GM and Apple don’t work that way. But CUNY does.
  • Because CUNY wouldn’t pay for customization, we had to renumber our courses. This is just one of many changes less visible to faculty that CUNYfirst has forced.

7. Consider the simple task of a professor logging in to see the current roster of a course. It takes no fewer than five mouse clicks after logging in (never mind that the login process is disrupted by website security certificate problems – temporary, one hopes, but emblematic of IT incompetence). In the old Brooklyn College portal, only two clicks were required. This seems like a small thing, and for faculty there really are no consequences. But for HEOs and clericals who spend all day clicking and entering, increasing the number of user actions by a factor of 250% will have an impact.

And it gets worse. There are clicks and there are clicks. Brooklyn College clicks (from my off-campus, off-CUNY computer) typically take under two seconds. CUNYfirst clicks require four or more seconds. The total time it takes me to log in to Brooklyn College, and get my roster displayed is 20 seconds. For CUNYfirst it is 80 seconds. Again: I’m a professor and who the hell cares whether it takes me another 60 seconds to get a roster? But HEOs and clericals use this all day long: a system that is at least four times slower than it ought to be.

And this is not all. The user interface is an affront to common sense and guarantees a need for extensive training for administrative users. For example: I log in. The system “knows” that I am a professor. Why then am I confronted with a dozen links, half of which have no relevance to my role? The links themselves are confusing. I’m searching for my class roster. Why would I expect that functionality to be found in “Self Service” rather than “Records and Enrollment” or “Campus Community” or “Reporting Tools” or “People Tools” or “CUNY”? If I click on “CUNY” I see it has a subsection “Campus Solutions” – wouldn’t that be a place to find rosters? After a while, you do find what you are looking for. (Hint: when you open up “Faculty Center” don’t be so foolish as to excitedly click “Class Roster” – you must first click “My Schedule” and then find the unlabeled graphical icon that looks like three upper torsos, and click that.) Thus, CUNYfirst is a fabulous online version of the Where’s Waldo? books.

8. We at Brooklyn College (and other “Wave 3” campuses) will adjust. I know people in other schools (in earlier “waves”) who have. We will suffer more than they have because Brooklyn College has had the best add-on systems (for scheduling, grade reporting, etc.) of the university. Many of these will now go away.

9. HEOs say the system is frequently down, and for prolonged periods of time, which requires the double-work of writing information down on paper, again and again, to be entered later in the computer. These problems will hopefully be resolved over time – but right now we can only hope.

10. I witnessed and participated in some of the early end-user testing. That’s the phase of the testing process where all the basic elements of a system are supposed to be working, and the goal is to identify potential anomalies resulting from complex sequences of real user activity, activity determined by the customer. Instead, we followed a test script provided by the vendor. We never got to “anomalies resulting from complex sequences”: the system failed on the most trivial actions. As it failed multiple times, an engineer from Oracle would run to the next room to adjust something and then we testers would retry. This was a totally inappropriate methodology and in complete violation of long-standing software development practice. I’ve heard, though, that they’ve improved this process somewhat.

11. As CUNYfirst extends its reach across the University, the thing to keep in mind is that no matter how bad CUNYfirst is for YOU, CUNYfirst is a success for CUNYCentral.

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What’s your experience with CUNYfirst?

We’d like to hear about your experience with this new computer system. Click "add new comment" to tell your story. (The only criteria for posting is that comments be on topic and civil in language.)


General comments

As an instructor, CUNY First has a large learning curve. However it does have some nice features for entering grades, such as the ability to check the names of several students and a box to give all of the students the same grade at once. This is nice. As an advisor, it is lovely to be able to see the grades a transfer student made in their previous coursework without having to ask the student to provide a transcript. Thus, while I hated this system during the first semester and still find that it has some flaws, I find that the system has made my overall job much easier.

CUNYFirst and Enrollment Declines

To what extent has the complexity of CUNYFirst contributed to (or flat out caused)the significant drop in enrollment for Summer Session? This would be especially true for non-CUNY students in town for the summer who were seeking to take one or two courses.

HEOs in Libraries

It has been brought to my attention that a couple of the library's HEOs, long standing, are now required to submit time sheets even though they are department heads and are not on an hourly schedule. Here is where another 'one size fits all' solution really has no place in such a diverse organization. It appears that management is quick to jump at a solution, for whatever reasons, without much foresight or consultation, (unless paying exorbitant amounts of money for the service).

Dean's List Disaster!

I have coordinated the Dean's List on my respective campus for several years and this was the first time we ran a query using CUNY First to generate the lists. To date, CUNY First has left off 50 students! The only way that I became aware of this is that these students connected with me---who knows how many more are missing!

CUNY First is to CUNY what Godzilla was to Tokyo!

"Thumbs Down" for CUNYfirst

As a faculty member, my first experience with CUNYfirst did not go well. The username and password the system assigned me are close to meaningless. I'll never remember them. I'll have to write them down, and that, of course, makes them vulnerable to be found or stolen. (Is there a way to change them? If so, I couldn't find it.) On top of this, the lengthy "instructions" faculty were sent regarding class rosters and grades failed to mention that the TINY icons we need to look for are NOT marked. I wasted SO MUCH time trying to figure out how to input grades. And there's no way I'll remember the path of MULTIPLE clicks it takes to finally hunt down/find something as simple as a class roster. Why the heck would anyone click on "Self Service" if s/he were looking to find a class roster? (Or is CUNY now a gas station?) CUNYfirst is NOT user friendly. What a waste of time and money.

entering term grades for Sp 2013

At home, I tried on 2 separate days to access CUNYfirst and each time it rejected my password as invalid. On Tues., I went to BMCC to enter grades at the Registrars. After passing through 3 levels of assistants in the office, it took the Head Registrar to enter the system and enter the grades himself. It was a blood pressure raising experience! It was handled most courteously by the people in the office. I only blame CUNYfirst.
Ruth Herz, Assoc. Prof. Sci.,retired and now an adjunct.

Working Hard...Has anyone noticed?

I believe this is something PSC should have addressed a long time ago. CUNY First has made our jobs so much more meticulous and cumbersome. Work flows have become two and three fold for certain potions and many of us have worked summers and winters of 'extra' time trying to enroll students and provide students with the customer service that they need. In addition HEOs are being asked to play the role of sandwich meat pressed in between a moratorium on pathways by the union and trying to somehow make Pathways work for the FALL 2013 by provosts. My main concern in all of this is will the hard work of HEOs, struggling with Pathways and CUNY First get its due diligence at the bargaining table? Honestly, I have heard the plight of pathways as a Student/Faculty problem, yet nothing about the increase in work it will be for HEOs. Here we are now juggling CUNY First and trying implement Pathways, silent chipping away in our cubicles while using this abacus in a PCs clothing, and I just wonder...has anyone noticed?

CUNYFirst = Job Opportunities FAIL

I shudder at all the descriptions of the grades system, since my school isn't using CUNYFirst yet for this.

However, I don't see anyone commenting on the job listings on the site so far.

I signed up to get alerts to job opportunities in my field. And CUNYFirst sends along an email from time to time. But the links on those emails to specific job opportunities? They don't work.

What happens is, I click the link, then am taken to the CUNYFirst home page, and log in.

Click the email link again, hoping something will happen now, but unfortunately, I get the home page again.

Now, there isn't actually a menu to get from the home page to the place where jobs are listed, even though my non-working job ad link got me to the home page.

So then I try to search for the HR/job opportunities section of the website. I enter "Employment" in search. No results.

I then try with "Human Resources" and "Job Opportunities". Nothing.

I tried all the links on the home page to see where they go, and I even looked in the "Knowledge Base" (which has no knowledge of "job opportunities").

I am trying to figure out what purpose exactly the search box serves if it won't take you to known areas of this website.

Having given up on the CUNYFirst search functions, I go to Google, and search for "CUNYFirst employment opportunities." And lo and behold I get a link to the employment page on CUNY.edu.

There's a link on the left to "search job postings". It returns an error message: "You are not authorized for this page. https://hrsa.cunyfirst.cuny.edu/psc/cnyhcprd/GUEST/HRMS/c/HRS_HRAM.HRS_CE.GBL"

Then I try the other link in the center on the same CUNY.edu/employment page which says "search job postings:" and I get error message: " You are not authorized for this page. https://hrsa.cunyfirst.cuny.edu/psc/cnyhcprd/GUEST/HRMS/c/HRS_HRAM.HRS_CE.GBL?FolderPath=PORTAL_ROOT_OBJECT.HC_HRS_CE_GBL2&IsFolder=false&IgnoreParamTempl=FolderPath%2cIsFolder".

At that point, since there appears to be no one to contact for service issues of this kind, I pretty much give up on the whole process and look for some other jobs to apply for.

I should mention I am a tech-savvy user (former Instructional Technology Fellow and current online instructor for CUNY). I've also been on the job market and I have never seen a university website which contained job ads and yet no way for the user to search for the correct part of the website in which to view them.

CUNY is not going to attract the best candidates to its job searches if they can't access the ads and apply.

As for searching for job

As for searching for job opportunities, I learned from trial and error that CUNYFirst says you are not authorized to view a page while you are logged in. You must log out of CF first, and it should allow you guest access to search job postings. Counter intuitive, don't you think?

Doesn't the system allow you to "save" and apply for jobs?

When viewing jobs, I have seen the option to save or apply for them.

How does one do this if one is not logged in?

It's been a long time since I viewed a job on CUNYFirst, so perhaps there was another chain of failure at that point also.

Thanks!

(Anonymous from May 29th, etc.)

a small clarification about training liaisons

In the above article, I characterize "training liaison" as a "glorified room scheduler". Actually, I meant that in my case only. As a training liaison, that was mostly what I did at BC. However, every campus has its own training liaison, and I know directly that many or most of them do far more than schedule rooms, but actively recruit trainers, do training themselves and are much more involved in the CUNYFirst rollout than I was. Typically they do that without any extra compensation or reduction of their other duties, i.e. the usual HEO raw deal. My words unintentionally did those folks an injustice and I hope this clarification makes up for it partially. -- David A.

Fact Checking

Anything else you plan to "re-characterize" David now that you've had time to step away from your first draft?

Re-characterizing.

Not really. It's obvious from most of the comments that if anything I underestimated the difficulty the system imposes on HEOs and clerical staff. My own experience recently of entering grades and textbooks and checking enrollments in my upcoming classes confirms my view of the interface and general behavior of the system: ultimately workable, but amazingly ill-designed. Incidentally, the piece above was hardly a "first draft". Recharacterize that, Anonymous. -- David A.

Filing grades on CUNYFirst

1. I claimed my account about a month after we were first told to join CUNYFirst, and still, when I tried to log on to file my grades, I was told my password already had expired. That meant I had to re-do part of the process of claiming my account, just to set up a new password. My online bank doesn't even force me to change my password this frequently.

2.In terms of filing grades, what used to take one or two clicks, now took many clicks. What a waste of time.

3. The grade-filing instructions on the official pdf had missing steps and steps out-of-order.

4. Unlike every other online grading system I've participated in -- in CUNY and elsewhere -- there was no confirmation letting me know I'd actually successfully filed my grades. I therefore had to go a day or so wondering whether I would have to repeat the process again. Fortunately the grades did post, and so I assume I file correctly.

submision

you know your grades were submitted when you lose the dropdown option to choose a grade.

CUNYfirst's "Deprovisioning" of CUNY Adjunct faculty

See Page 16 of the Queens College Adjunct Task Force Report for details of how CUNYfirst "deprovisioned" hundreds of Adjuncts:

http://www.qc.cuny.edu/Academics/SupportPrograms/CTL/Projects/Documents/...

-- Ken Ryesky
Adjunct Asst. Professor,
Dept. of Accounting & Information Systems
Queens College CUNY

1990 called and it wants its interface back!

Seriously, would I make such a cliche comment unless I was seriously offended? The interface, as you've noted, sucks. It makes more, and more un-obvious, work for too many.

And there is more: Some colleges will not let a grade be "posted" by a faculty member: we can only "approve" and then someone in (what? the registrar's office? where?) has to pass eyes over our grades before they get "posted". In the meantime our students wait with bated breath. (This has always been a problem, come to think of it. We can't "approve" grades until each and every student has a grade. What is it exactly the the registrar's office needs to spend time and taxpayer money looking for before our grades are posted?)

Brooklyn Portal used to be my exemplar of what academic software interfaces could and should be. (Not that everything was perfect, but that it was oriented to the user, and easy to use.)

I am glad to see what's left of it.

P.S. my "math" captcha question is 1+0 =?. I'm glad to know human beings can still triumph on questions such as this!

Posting is posting... not reviewing

It's a batch process. Not a registrar review. Have you asked why a certain business process is in place? Or are you going straight to tin foil hat conspiracies?

There are real issues here. Serious issues. Your "And there is more" is just a distraction.

PSC and Social (IN)Security Numbers

The PSC must act to remove not only our social security numbers but those of our students! I was shocked to see them on my grade rosters.

Clearly, this whole thing is CUNYfoist.

Veteran Adjunct at BMCC

Are you sure?

There are very few screens in CUNYfirst with social security numbers... I don't think the rosters are one of them. Count the digits, are there 8? That's the "EMPL ID."

past experience

I am a former graduate of the system when it was still CCNY and am sad to see just how far down the entire school system has degraded. What a shame to have gone from one of the most revered East Coast technical schools to a political shambles. For Shame

CUNYFirst

CUNYFirst should be called CUNYWorst.

CUNY First

Because my campus is in Wave 4, my experience has been limited to being given an account with access to little else but the tutorial. I don't know how I will be expected to perform if I don't have the access to do so. Also, I am beginning to hear about how difficult it will be to correct data entry errors. Training is supposed to take place this summer at unspecified times. I guess I'll see how that goes.

I don't have anything new to

I dont't have anything new to add. I agree with the points made so far:
- It takes forever to get to the course site.
- Submitting grades is too complicated. I am not sure I did because I see no confirmation.
- I do not need to see my employment data and feel prone to hacking knowing that that information is available on this site which I use to submit grades.
- Who wrote the instructions for grade submission at Hunter college? It is amateurish at best. 7 pages of instructions is too long. And why are there description of features that are not even available.
It's hard to believe that this site and its feature could have made sense to anybody.

Such a terrible choice.

Dogged HEO staff members have been putting in 13-14 hours days to try to get CUNYfirst to work, basically trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. This on top of implementing Pathways. The system is repeatedly “down.” Even when it is working, it takes about 15 minutes or more to use it to advise a student, whereas in the past, academic advisors could obtain the information they needed from SIMs in about a minute or two. Multiple 15 minutes times the students on your campus and you begin to see the magnitude of the problem.
In 2011 Montclair University sued Oracle for a failed ERP; in fact, the Montclair situation was named one of the 10 biggest ERP software failures of 2011 by Computer World Magazine. Montclair claimed that due to serious mistakes and delays on the part of Oracle, the project cost over $5 million more than the original budget. Montclair also alleged that Oracle staffed the project with unprepared staffers, missed deadlines, didn't adequately test the software, and even used a "rigged" software demonstration that falsely made it seem like some functionality was part of Oracle's base system. This case was recently resolved although I do not know the terms. The last I heard, Cambridge University was also considering suing for the same reasons. (An older suit: Ohio's attorney general filed a lawsuit against PeopleSoft Inc. seeking $510 million in damages stemming from an allegedly faulty installation of the company's ERP and student administration applications at Cleveland State University. Cleveland State University and PeopleSoft USA, Inc. reached a $4.25 million settlement in 2005.) These are just a few lawsuits against PeopleSoft/Oracle by universities; there have been others by private corporations, municipalities and others for cost overruns, poor functionality, missed deadlines, etc. I also believe one of the Univ of California schools disbanded the product entirely after getting into it almost half way because of how awful it was.
SIMS was imperfect, but was basically responsive to the needs of each college. I’ll never understand why an investment in enhancing SIMS to make it an integrated university-wide system was not done. Just yesterday I spoke to an admissions staff member at SUNY Buffalo where they use Oracle. She described it as a nightmare saying she longs for the days when Buffalo used its own “homegrown” computer information system.
I agree, “we will adjust.” But with the Graduate Center part of the next wave (tsunami?), it is hard to imagine how this very complicated organization (The Graduate School, School of Professional Studies, the Journalism School, Macaulay and especially CUNY BA, the individualized university-wide degree) will fit into CUNYfirst. It is particularly a shame for the Graduate School and CUNY BA, which have invested heavily in resources since 1999 to get Banner to the state it is in now, functioning perfectly for us.

If I Had Chosen this System, I Would Have Been FIRED!

I want to thank you for not only the bold stand you took in your opinion piece in the Clarion, but also for your recognition of HEOs at CUNY and the toll that CF (as we call CUNYfirst) and now Pathways has taken on us.

I am from a Wave 2 school and had to put in enormous hours of OT in the year leading up to our conversion. Now that we are live, CF has slowed down our processes enormously, resulting in extra hours on a routine basis. I rarely leave my office on time. I still have to put in enough extra hours that I end up with a few days off in comp time about three times a year. (And that is with me being somewhat generous in giving time to my college without documenting it since I consider myself a professional and extra hours here and there are part of the job.)

A stack of paperwork arriving on my desk that would take about an hour in SIMS, can take anwhere from 3 to 7 hours, depending on the density of what is included, the complexity of the specifics involved, how slow CF will be on any given day, and how many times it will log me off for no apparent reason.

Even worse is how our end-clients, the students (remember them?), have fared under this system. If those of us who have been using CF for 1-2 years still have problems with it, how can we expect students to master this crucial system?

We were told by someone who was supposedly on the university-wide committee from the beginning that was charged with choosing the vendor, that it came down to two finalists: Oracle and a European company. The person said that the European company was hungry to get into the US market and their presentation, product, and response to questions ran rings around Oracle. Many members of the committee were dumbfounded when Oracle got the contract.

I wouldn't care if this was a workable system, but it is not. It should be clear to anyone who uses CF that it was not meant as a university administration product and that the people who rebuilt it for this market know nothing about college administration and the tasks we have to do on a daily basis. Converting any system is an arduous task, but one usually can expect to get to a point where most things are working well. I don't think CF will ever work well and that we will have problems with it until we finally convert to something else.

I agree with other posts here about the training being inadequate at best. My colleagues who did the CF "Train the Trainer" training were never given any hands-on time in the system. Rather, they were taught how to read Powerpoint presentations out loud (and urged to "smile more"). They themselves were frustrated that they were supposed to train colleagues on campus but were not given the proper training or tools to do so.

Then in the middle of all of the CF problems, we are supposed to implement Pathways, which requires a great deal of administrative retooling in addition to the pedagogical issues. And now we are told that there will be significant changes being made in how financial aid will be delivered, also starting this fall.

How much are we, as HEOs, expected to shoulder at one time? Most of my colleagues are extremely tired, some to the point of increased illnesses. We get little recognition (except for us lucky ones with supervisors who acknowledge our hard work and dedication in the only way they can: thanks and the occasional pizza party) and rarely are eligible for merit raises or other "hard" compensation. And many of us believe that the centralization that CF is supposed to offer will enable "Central" to pull more jobs off-campus (and eliminate some, of course), the way they have moved payroll from the colleges to one central Manhattan location.

Again, I thank you for recognizing HEOs and the work we do to make our colleges run. I feel that the people at "Central" have forgotten what it is like to be on the ground at one of the colleges.

CUNYfirst good for just one thing: wreaking havoc

CUNYfirst has been, in a word, a disaster. It has hurt students, faculty, and staff in ways no one could have imagined when it first arrived at our campus. The amount of hours of lost productivity, and the amount of money lost due to canceled classes, is just staggering. (If something like this happened in the corporate world, heads would be rolling by now and the people who wreaked this kind of havoc would have been fired.) We experienced numerous insurmountable challenges during our first semester with CUNYfirst, but registration was the worst. Dozens of courses were canceled because exhausted students simply gave up. (Imagine spending hours trying to sign up for a class and having all the information disappear from your screen FIVE TIMES.) One section of a popular course I have taught for several years was canceled because only six students managed to register for it successfully. As a result I lost thousands of dollars of my meager income as an adjunct. I was not alone; many of my colleagues also lost classes and there was constantly scrambling to re-arrange teaching schedules. This system is so outdated and so broken I don't think it can be fixed. The powers-that-be at CUNY should admit they made a terrible mistake with CUNYfirst and just start over.

CUNY First Failure

At Hunter College, last night a printed notice was posted all over telling students that graduate registration was suspended because of "problems" with CUNY First. This came after another notice posted telling students that they are not registering correctly and while they think that they have completed registration, they really haven't. A total mess.
Anonymous

Who knows?

Last year, we got a heads-up from CUNY Central that they would be sending a survey soon to ask the folks on my campus how they feel about CUNYFirst. The answer would have been that I felt nothing, because I had received absolutely zero information about CUNYFirst in more than a year. Realizing they were about to be caught out for not communicating anything to the campus community, our campus CUNYFirst team suddenly sent out an "update" about it, days before the survey actually came. Too little, too late, and I'm sure the survey results reflected that.

Meanwhile, the only actual evidence of it I see on campus is this: First, because the formatting of staff information is different than it was in the legacy system, when we import faculty data into a separate, mission-critical database, it causes duplicate records. This has had the effect of making it impossible for faculty to log in to that database and check on information relating to their students. Second, once in a great while I get a mysterious email that is impossible to intepret (because nobody warned us these would start coming or explained to us anything at all about the unintuitive nature of these emails or the screens they lead us to if we dare to click any links in them), but which invariably relates to some employee who hasn't worked for me in more than a year. I assume someone is doing data entry of old personnel files, which generates automated emails to supervisors. Can they be safely ignored? Are we supposed to be proofreading them for accuracy? Is some other type of action required on our part? We don't know, and apparently neither does anyone else.

Duplicate records

Duplicate record problems caused by CUNY First have exploded since the first campuses went live. I regularly have to deal with problems on the CUNY Portal and Blackboard, where students are suddenly duplicated because a campus they've never attended / haven't attended in years has gone live on CUNY First and imported unchecked or incorrect data. As a result of the bad data, they experience severe account issues. They find their Blackboard courses are suddenly gone, or when they log into Blackboard, they see a different student's name and courses. Meanwhile, Blackboard is perceived as malfunctioning, when it's actually due to bad data management by CUNY First. Ultimately, it's the students who pay the price.

From technophile to technophobe

EPIC FAIL. Those words can't be strong enough. The worst example of corporatizing ever in CUNY. It was foisted on the lowest level of the hierarchy first. Our campus was told it was being tried out on us first before the Manhattan schools. Lovely! Not only is it poorly designed and nonintuitive, it constantly breaks down. It is so buggy that everyone ends up spending much more time on it than the old system. The biggest frustration is that no one seems to no how to fix anything so the same HEOS keep getting bombarded with help questions. One of our best HEOs has resigned b/c after two years she has had it and would rather retire than deal with CUNYFIRST. For faculty, it's a nightmare b/c instead of making it easy to register student, it's harder. My favorite CUNY FIRST story was the time it took 5 hours and five different offices to fix one small item. Trainers are nice but they never have all the information needed. CUNYFirst help desks are staffed by nonHEOS who are sweet but generally don't have advanced answers. And so it goes......if this is representative of the conditions for teaching and learning at CUNY, then we, as an institution ARE AN EPIC FAIL!

As Academic Department

As Academic Department Chairperson I needed to create requisitions and manage personnel actions/appointments, etc. I was unable to do anything at all in the financials because they were not made available to me despite my notifying the VP of Adm & Fin and the VP Acad Affs multiple times over months asking repeatedly for their assistance in rectifying the problem. Turned out, I found out in October 2012 that the first four months of the year the IT dept was claiming I had the access that I did not have, and apparently the VPs simply believed what they were told. When I learned this was being said (no one bothered to tell me), I immediately sent a screen shot that showed I had no access. After this my access was enabled (no courtesy call, no apology, nothing), but things still did not go smoothly, they had to fiddle with it for months to try to get authorized users set up properly, basically half of the year was gone by the time things were set up better (but remember, we have deadlines for submission of budget reqs, we do not actually get 12 months). Horrible situations, still trying to get the system to work, and receiving items is extraordinarily labor intensive (Library department, we receive lots of items). Regarding personnel matters, I had to still submit everything in multiple page forms typed with a typewriter, though I supposedly was to manage my employees, the people at this college have kept a tight grip on the process, I sent the paperwork forward apparently so someone else could do what I should have been able to do in the system. No savings or efficiencies here. I interacted with an extremely upset student who had enrolled and paid, and his classes were cancelled: he wanted to know who was responsible for CUNYFirst, the name of the person, because he was on the warpath for them. This student was one of many, the problems have been many and extremely frustrating for students too.

Cuny last

When you go to your roster it only prints in very small print. When you enter your grades you have no idea if they went through. Twice I had to hand write my grades in because Cunyfirst never submitted the grades

My experience with CUNYfirst

My experience with CUNYfirst so far is exactly as the author described: It is very rigid and poorly designed (feels extremely outdated). About something else: I don't understand why faculty's full social security numbers are displayed in the Personal Info Summary section -- Unlike some other personal info, we cannot edit it and we don't need a reminder like that. It's useless and it's just an invitation for some internet hacker to steel it while you are managing your classes or looking for student info. With so many identity thefts committed every day and reported in the media, it's irresponsible on the part of CUNYfirst management and Human Resourses to display such info, and faculty and staff must demand that their SS## be removed from CUNYfirst. Besides, it seems to be in violation of the New York State Social Security Number Protection Law of 2008.

Igor Arievitch, Professor
College of Staten Island

CUNYfirst

So much worse than Queens College's own website!
I have to use CUNYfirst to file attendance reports and grades. In both cases,
functionality is awkward and counter-intuitive. Hard to read.

Moreover, I have not yet been able to figure out how to print out blank or filled-in
grade reports. When I try to print them, all
I get are bits and pieces of the web page.

I seek to avoid CUNYfirst as much as possible.

Printing Out Stuff

One suggestion for you regarding printing out items.

My experience is that you should be using FireFox when accessing CUNYfirst. I understand that when printing information out to view at times the screen will not print completely. You will at those times get just the out side frame of the screen.

Within FireFox when you are at the screen that is not printing out correctly. You should (Right Click) the area of information you want to print.

You will see a pop up menu - (Hover Over) 'This Frame', then another sub-pop up menu will appear - (Click) 'Print This Frame'

(Click) OK to print.

Your page should print everything on the screen now. If the page extends longer past what's viewable it should print all of the information include that which needs to be scrolled down to view.

Please understand this is a FireFox only solution that I got from our IT department from our campus. I was an ex-IT tech also before in corporate so I asked those in our campus' IT Dept I knew if they experience this and what they were aware of as a solution.

I do hope this works for you and understand that though CUNYfirst was difficult to use initially, and still has a good number of faults - it can be used to get the job done albeit slower than the low overhead systems that came before it.

We all know what we like, and CUNYfirst definitely is not UI coded as well as it could be. Half of it was CUNY Centrals decision in the amount it chose to spend. They other was Peoplesoft's decision in not having a higher standard for it's programmers when programming basic items. This unfortunately comes full circle due to the negotiated terms of the contract between CUNY Central & Peoplesoft. Peoplesoft can point to the contract, but in the end it was CUNY Central who signed on the dotted line.

CUNYfirst Makes our work more difficult

CUNYfirst is only making our work more difficult at a time when we have to submit student grades. The system is not only more difficult to manage but also poorly organized and confusing for logical thinkers. Even if CUNY managers wanted to centralize the system, the timing is complicating grade submissions and unneeded work at the most busy time of the semester. It is incomprehensible that the program was selected on the basis of a judicious system of evaluating alterntives. Was there any staff or faculty input? The CUNYfirst system a work rule change that should be contractually negogiated, not imposed on us by a wreckless management that fails to understand its own students and wedded to excluding shared governance.

CUNYfirst

I avoid CUNYfirst as much as possible. I use it mostly to enter grades. What drives me crazy is that I never know if the grades have been accepted. There is no kind of confirmation. And why does it take so long for the grades I enter to reach the Registrar's Office? Grades are sent to the "main" computer only at the end of each day. And whenever I print out my roster or grade sheet, I sorely miss having a microscope! Could anything be printed in a smaller font? I'm glad my grades are in and the summer is a-coming, so I won't have to face CUNYfirst until the fall semester begins.