Project Background and Vision

Why does UChicago need a new Academic Information System?

The current academic systems environment lags behind our peer institutions and does not support operational and strategic needs.

Gargoyle is the University’s system of record for academic data and processes, while PowerFAIDS helps manage the University’s financial aid functions. The University experienced system failure in 2000, leading to the incomplete implementation of Gargoyle. The vendor that supports Gargoyle has notified the University it will no longer support the system beginning in September 2014, after which, the University will be responsible for implementing regulatory compliance, which will increase institutional liability and risk. The University will also assume ownership of software and maintenance from the vendor. 

Vision for the New Academic System

The implementation of a new Academic Information System will align technological needs with the University’s mission and strategic vision:

Graduate Education and Graduate Student Success

  • Build infrastructure for the Provost’s Office to track graduate student metrics, e.g. time-to-degree, time-to-candidacy, teaching appointments, papers, publications, conferences, fellowships, professional activities.
  • Configure milestones to accommodate decentralized divisional degree requirements, e.g. track correlations between student populations and educational milestones with notification to faculty, advisors and others.
  • Develop metrics that track the graduate student economy, e.g. impact of working and student indebtedness.
  • Enable support for flexible, interdisciplinary degrees and programs.
  • Track potential roadblocks to graduate student success (excessive teaching load, illness, etc.).

Faculty Support

  • Empower faculty to manage courses, course restrictions, course consent, and wait lists.
  • Provide “one stop shop” self service for faculty, students and administrators.
  • Efficiently manage classroom and seat utilization in central and non-controlled spaces.

Support for complex science and non-traditional learning

  • Track internships (both at the University and in the laboratories), awarding students opportunities to work with researchers and tracking this curricular work enables science initiative and interdisciplinary science.
  • Provide a cohesive view of student information, e.g. academic, activities, student research, employment, and financial data in one system improves advising and enables faculty to analyze and potentially research this data.
  • Allow the University to explore modes of non-standard academic calendar learning.


  • Enhance University’s global expansion by offering administrative data anywhere, anytime, in any language e.g. global campuses, international centers, study abroad.
  • Provide contact information during international research and study e.g. travel registry.
  • Accommodate international calendars and holiday schedules.
  • Enable multi-currency accounting and transactions for tuition payment and disbursement of fellowship funds.

Parent Outreach and Student Success

  • Integrate student success measures, such as a holistic understanding of student learning.
  • Track engagement and learning, including comprehensive student portfolios, more efficiently.
  • Build a student support network that includes faculty, adviser, and parent accessibility through a unified portal.

Strategic Planning

  • Collect and analyze data for strategic planning of academic operations and Alumni fundraising.
  • Enrich and broaden initiatives, outreach, and services to parents through integrated data and improved access.
  • Develop and model statistical data to compare and compete with peer institutions, e.g. plan and execute data for research and trending analysis.
  • Develop longitudinal analysis for segments of the University — faculty and other academic appointments, graduate, undergraduate.

Risks, Vulnerabilities, and Opportunities to Improve Administrative and Operational Excellence

  • Provide Title II framework (ADA web accessibility) and assure ADA compliance and reporting.
  • Develop the ability to take quick action on federal regulations, e.g. Higher Education Opportunity Act.
  • Improve campus safety notifications through targeted group communications or ad hoc constituencies.
  • Support University’s innovation, unique strengths, and interdisciplinary academic offerings and studies by allowing faculty to properly cross-list courses across academic departments and the flexibility for academic programs to be cross-populated across schools and divisions.
  • Re-engineer current processes to meet and exceed Ivy Plus peers and support our national rankings.
  • Create a portal enabled unified view of all student administrative data, including Campus and Student Life, UChicago Safety and Security, Deans of Students, Registrar, Bursar, Financial Aid, etc.
  • Develop a communications strategy  across the University supported by preferred modern technology medium.