Bearcat Portal positively impacts student success

Student-centered partnership delivers effective data-driven service

The Bearcat Portal supports the Next Lives Here Bearcat Promise to accelerate student success and graduate impact-driven leaders.

Early versions of the Bearcat Portal eliminated or reduced friction points in the new student experience and helped admitted students seamlessly transition into enrolled Bearcats. The flexible, mobile-optimized platform delivered newly admitted students a single, personalized view of their earliest Bearcat experiences.

Reimagining the Bearcat experience for new, incoming students

University of Cincinnati Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Jack Miner initiated an engagement with Accenture in the fall of 2020 to reimagine the admitted student experience.

Enrollment Management intentionally included representatives from university offices who owned the myriad tasks incoming students must complete after they confirm admission and before they register for classes.

The project team adopted a student-first mindset and set out to reduce friction points and create “moments that matter” for new, incoming students.

“It was eye-opening to see a list of all the tasks we asked incoming students to do and all of the software tools we asked them to access,” said Director of New Student Orientation Kasey Drennen. “Filling out a form in one system and uploading your photo in another — those aren’t the exciting parts. We wanted students to forget the process and remember the moment they held their Bearcat Card for the first time as the moment they became a Bearcat."

Filling out a form in one system and uploading your photo in another — those aren’t the exciting parts. We wanted students to forget the process and remember the moment they held their Bearcat Card for the first time as the moment they became a Bearcat.

Kasey Drennen Director of New Student Orientation

The resulting list of recommendations from the Accenture engagement included the creation of a single cohesive online portal to facilitate enrollment task completion and streamline student interactions.

Delivering a student-centered technology solution

Enrollment Management reached out to Business Core Systems and IT@UC — now one IT team called Digital Technology Solutions (DTS) — to take the portal from recommendation to reality for the fall 2022 admissions cycle. 

Within six months, Digital Technology Solutions delivered the initial version of the Bearcat Portal, which rolled out to new, incoming students in January 2022.

A cross-functional DTS team of project managers, software developers and Catalyst student information system experts worked as one IT team alongside Enrollment Management to test, refine and release additional portal functionality in-step with the enrollment cycle. 

The Bearcat Portal led the way forward for newly admitted students — automatically tracking completed tasks, initiating next steps and connecting them to services such as course registration, housing, dining, shuttles, maps, directories, news and events. Students also had the option to tailor the portal experience to their individual area of study and interests. 

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The Bearcat Portal integrates behind-the-scenes systems, streamlines tedious tasks and visualizes relevant data to deliver new, incoming students a personalized, dynamic view of their progress on to-dos to complete before the first day of class each semester.

“Everyone involved in the Bearcat Portal worked as one UC team to meet new students wherever they were in their Bearcat journey. We simplified processes on the back end to make it easier for students on the front-end,” said Drennen. “I knew it was a success when other areas of the university started asking how they can incorporate their specific service into the portal.”

Plans are underway to expand access to the Bearcat Portal to all UC students, streamlining and eliminating processes to better serve our student populations.

“The Bearcat Portal is a great example of digital transformation at UC and also of what we can accomplish collaboratively across areas as one UC,” said Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Bharath Prabhakaran. “Enrollment Management's holistic and intentionally student-centered approach allowed DTS to leverage technology to relieve the manual task load. The Bearcat Portal accesses the systems, gathers the data, tracks the tasks and rolls out a digital welcome mat to complement the ‘moments that matter’ in the life of a new Bearcat.”

The Bearcat Portal is a great example of digital transformation at UC and also of what we can accomplish collaboratively across areas as one UC.

Bharath Prabhakaran Vice President and Chief Digital Officer

Featured image at top: Students walk on the UC campus in the fall. UC Marketing + Communications

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