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Context and Vision

Assessment Phase

In early 2016, Johns Hopkins University launched the multi-year Student Services Excellence Initiative project with the goal of redesigning and replacing the current student information system, which is challenged by functional weaknesses and is rapidly becoming outdated. This effort goes beyond addressing technical concerns to prioritizing the experience of the users – students first and foremost, but also faculty and staff, whose efforts support student experience and outcomes.

Illustrations of students interacting with each other and staff via apps, platforms and in person.

The goal of the initial assessment phase of work was to get a comprehensive picture of how the current state of services at Johns Hopkins impacts student experience and outcomes. We surveyed over 3,000 students, faculty and staff across the Hopkins enterprise, as well as alumni and trustees. In addition to these survey respondents, over 200 faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and parents participated by serving on working groups, a steering committee and an advisory committee. We also conducted in-depth interviews and multiple focus groups with students.

Based on this extensive input, we are now in the process of implementing improvements to the student experience at Hopkins, focusing on six key administrative areas: Career Services, Recruitment & Admissions, Registration, Financial Aid, Billing and Advising. Our initial phase of activity focused on Career Services as an area of high priority, as well as implementing a common platform for graduate admissions. Read more about our activity in the first phase here.

Guiding Principles:

As we implement changes to systems and processes used throughout the university, here are the four main principles that guide our work:

Focus on the ultimate student / faculty experience:

  • Create a climate for change by developing solutions focused on the ultimate student/faculty experience
  • Prioritize impact on student/faculty experience over jurisdiction
  • Position students and faculty to reap the benefits of being part of “One University”

Streamline and simplify:

  • Collaboratively develop common student processes and data across JHU, while still respecting school and divisional differences (including local service delivery)
  • Engage and empower various constituencies across the university throughout the project
  • Make collaboration across schools and divisions easier
  • Make compliance with legal/regulatory requirements consistent and easily achievable

Look forward, not back:

  • No “sacred cows”: avoid doing something a certain way just because something has “always been done that way”
  • Strive to implement processes and systems that enable us to better serve our students, both now and into the future
  • Focus on how to improve while also being mindful of resources

Use objective analysis and best practices to inform our decisions:

  • Make informed decisions by utilizing easy-to-use management reporting processes and technology
  • Increase data accessibility
  • Openly compare ourselves to peers and learn from best practices

Future State Vision

The overarching goal of the SSEI is to foster an environment that helps students make the most of their experience at Johns Hopkins. What could this experience potentially be?


  • Tailor experiences and information based on students’ behavior and stated preferences
  • Allow students to define their own journey
  • Build relationships through interactions that foster loyalty, trust and mutual understanding
  • Resolve complex situations with individual attention when self-service is not an option


  • Equip students with the right resources at the right time
  • Give students resources to resolve issues and manage processes themselves, so staff and faculty can focus on exceptional circumstances
  • Build students’ confidence with accessible and user-friendly experiences


  • Ensure that self-service options are speedy, seamless and do not place an unwarranted administrative burden on the student
  • Focus on time-savings for students and staff, taking lessons from current mobile technology and on-demand services
  • Streamline and coordinate services across divisions and departments

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