Nicole Hunt Strange Is Improving Service For Students
Date: Dec. 9 , 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Dottie Stover
Nicole Hunt Strange was among the first people hired for the UC cross-trained staff now working in the One Stop Student Services Center at University Pavilion. She's one of 12 University Service Associates, or USAs, who exemplify how the university is working to improve student service with cross-trained staff, better technology, and the building itself that's now open and flowing with visitors and students.
As a University Service Associate, Nicole counsels, advises and problem solves for students who may have questions that they didn't think they could solve on the One Stop Web site. That's the technology where 90 percent of UC's students can take care of the business of being a student online. Services include registering for class, paying bills, applying for financial aid or even checking in with an advisor.
For special questions, there's Nicole. She meets one-on-one with students in the One Stop Student Services Center. Nicole started at UC in August 2001 and was cross-trained in five different student service areas: Registration, Financial Aid, Student Records, Student Accounts and Collections. If the USAs can't answer a question, they'll call the service office that can, and that person will come to where the student is waiting in the One Stop Student Services Center. Because of University Pavilion and the USAs like Nicole, students no longer have to walk from building to building or office to office to address a specific question.
"They don't know how to navigate the system. There's no handbook that says you go here for this and go there for that. They think somebody should be able to help them in one place," says Nicole, who adds the cross-trained staff got a great response before University Pavilion even opened. Before all of the offices came together under one roof, the USAs started working at a One Stop prototype in Edwards One last March.
Nicole has dedicated much of her career to working with students and last served as an assistant director of student activities at the University of the South in Tennessee. The Northside resident says the USA position interested her because she felt the administrative side of student affairs would be a new challenge.
The cross training, she says, was "more in depth than I ever imagined. There was a lot of information to learn in order to be an expert in five different service areas, so the complexity of the training was amazing."
The USAs moved into the new One Stop Student Services Center last month and as a result, the move furthered the vision of breaking down barriers in service. Counters no longer separate the staff from the students. The One Stop Student Services Center instead has the "pods" that serve as student assistance areas. The portable workstations encompass a living-room type atmosphere, where the USAs assist the students.
"Most of the students who come to the center say they feel it's an inviting place," Nicole says. "The center has a new-age, modern look. Also, the students especially like our work stations, because now they can sit down when we work with them, instead of standing at the counters like they were doing in Edwards One."
Nicole says she's most frequently asked about financial aid. "There are peak periods for different services. Right now, I'm getting a lot of questions about registration because registration is underway for winter quarter.
"The job is definitely rewarding. I feel like I'm helping students - making their access to information a lot easier."
To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.