+1 (740) 420 5907 blazertech@ohiochristian.edu

Cindi Celske
Michelle Blanton
Lois Moore
Abbie Ailes
Carlie Riffle
Dustin Epperly
Ryan Nobles
Cynthia Tweedell
Zach Hockenberry
Rachel Sones
Tera Kuehne

Special Guests: 
Joanne Milburn (Sonis Director at Jenzabar)
Ashley Allison (OCU Student and Jenzabar Intern)


Discussion/Question about whether to change AIM division to AGS. All attendees provided overwhelming support of this change. Lois asked about whether the tcodes would also reflect this change and I stated that we would look into it. I also asked everyone to let me know of other areas where they see AIM and we would look into whether it can be changed.


Presentation by Joanne Milburn with Jenzabar. Some of the most notable highlights are mentioned below:

There are 110 Sonis customers worldwide.

Joanne has had a long relationship with OCU, dating back to 1998, when OCU was still Circleville Bible College.

Ling Chai – Jenzabar’s founder was a leading organizer of the protests in Tiananmen Square in China. After pictures of her surfaced (in the square with a megaphone and tanks), she became a wanted person in China. She, with other organizers, fled China in a cargo ship. With China hot on their heels, no countries would accept them for asylum for fear of Chinese retaliation, so they ended up hiding in the cargo ships hold for over 100 days while trying to find asylum. Finally, a naval ship in Hawaii took them and brought them to the United States where they finally found asylum. She went to school and received an MBA from Harvard Business School. As a student, she saw the struggles of fellow students and felt that students should not have to stand in long lines to see their grades/records, so she decided to start a company to build a software that would allow student access to their records over the internet. She initially met a lot of resistance because current student information systems didn’t like students having direct access to their data, but she continued on and Jenzabar, her company, has become a leading student information system provider.

In 2008, she created the Jenzabar Foundation that focuses on giving grants.

  • They recognize and support student leaders who have ideas to do some good work. They developed an internship program to support these student leaders through their research and provide work experience they can take into future careers.
    • They team with like-minded non-profits
      • All Girls Allowed
      • Worked to change the rules in China that only allowed one child (which resulted in girls being abandoned or aborted in favor of boys – who support the family)
      • China now allows two children, so girls are now being kept.
    • Wounded Warriors
      • Work with supporting soldiers who were wounded on the battlefield
    • Campus.Net
      • Working to provide distance education to the world by building technology centers with computers and internet access and providing support so tribal members have a place to go to get an education.
      • First locations are in Uganda and other African nations
      • Ling believes “if you can educate students across the world, you can change the world.”


Discussed Sonis upgrade to Sonis 3.3

  • I explained the hindrances to upgrading to Sonis 3.3 and the importance for removing customizations that we no longer need. Removing these customizations will make upgrading Sonis easier.
    Joanne explained how we got to where we are: there was a time when OCU had more programmers than they did and we grew so fast that we needed more functionality than they could quickly provide. So, we built what we needed. Since then, they have caught up, so we are now trying to use the functionality that Sonis provides and remove customizations we no longer need. The more customizations we remove from Sonis, the easier and less painful upgrades become.
  • I threw out a hypothetical question to the group. Because the customizations are coded for Sonis 2.8, and because Sonis 3.3’s user interface looks completely different than Sonis 2.8, would we be okay with upgrading the base Sonis to 3.3, but leaving the OCU pages looking like 2.8 and slowly work toward revamping those to look more like 3.3. We would evaluate each customization and determine whether functionality now exists in Sonis to meet that need. If so, we use Sonis’s functionality and remove the customization. If Sonis doesn’t have what we need, then we will revamp that page to the new format and keep that customization (until the point in time where Sonis provides it). All were in agreement with this plan and all were okay with leaving the OCU pages in the old 2.8 format and slowing revamping or removing them.
  • IF approved, the Dev Team will get a Sonis 3.3 test system set up for testing ASAP. Joanne stated that it’s incredibly important that all areas get tested thoroughly before Go-Live. She stressed that it’s up to the users to make sure that everything works.
  • I reminded the group of how painful the upgrade to Sonis 3.0 was. I mentioned that we have the potential to either have a good experience or another nightmare, but that is all entirely dependent upon user testing. The earlier we find issues, the sooner those can be fixed and testing can proceed. We need to test EVERYTHING extensively and report issues as soon as possible. Since we will be leaving the customized pages as they are, we definitely need to ensure they all still work with the upgraded version of Sonis.


Discussed Jenzabar’s complementary products (those that integrate easily with Sonis)

  • Izenda reporting (but OCU uses PowerBI for our reporting)
  • Jenzabar Recruitment Manager
  • Student Success Suite (Retention)
    • Early alerts
    • College Readiness Survey
    • Predictive Modeling
  • Jenzabar e-learning
    • Fully integrated with Sonis
    • Legacy data is retained for future reporting and reference (student data is saved forever for those who later return)

Demos requested for Student Success Suite and e-learning


RUG (Regional User Group) Meeting

  • Held at Goodwin College – October 12, 2018

JAM (Jenzabar Annual Meeting)

  • Always held the week of Memorial day (starting on Wednesday and going through Saturday)
  • Next year is in San Diego, CA (2019)
  • 2020 will be held in Orlando, FL


Jenzabar will be providing a 3 year roadmap – what is coming over the next 3 years.


Rachel Sones asked about PowerFaids and importing into Sonis. I told Joanne that we’ve had a ticket open with them for a number of months regarding issues with the PowerFaids import and with the discrepancies between the student’s bill and the calculation results in the Financial Aid page in Sonis. Joanne said she would look into it and get back to me on it.


Lois brought up the 1098T (release index for 2017 contains information on the new requirements for reporting starting this next January). The dev team will get those updates loaded to Sonis-Test ASAP so that Lois can start working on them and testing them to ensure we are ready for January’s reporting.


Cynthia mentioned some issues she is having with report results. I asked her if she has used the Query Builder. She says that she has it but doesn’t know how to use it. I told her that I would get with her to train her how to use it.


Several users asked for a list of all the reports in Sonis with a description of what each report provides. I told everyone that I was working on that and would move it up on my list of priorities.


Also needed is the documentation I started on all the fields in Sonis (for each page) and what each field should contain and how it is used by each department.


One issue discussed is the need to reduce the number of entries in some of our drop downs (campuses, departments, cohorts, sections, etc.). I described the issue with that. For any of the 6 fields that appear on the name search page, disabling any of those entries will prevent individuals who have that entry on his or her record from being found in Sonis. Example: If my record has Morrow set as my campus, but Morrow gets disabled in the campus drop down, you will no longer be able to find my record in Sonis. The only way to disable any of those entries is to first change that data on every individual’s record that currently has that entry set for that field. By that, using the example above, to disable Morrow, you’d have to move all individuals (students, alumni, withdrawn, faculty, staff, etc.) who are currently set to the Morrow campus to another campus. Only when no records are associated with Morrow is it safe to disable that campus. I am open to discussing these (in future SUG meetings) and figuring out how to handle each of these fields and how to map the old entry to a new entry (so we can delete the old entry).


Cynthia mentioned that she didn’t know the difference between an active student and an enrolled student (and didn’t know to ask for one or the other), so I reminded the group of the definitions we built during previous SUG meetings and told them I’d posted those as a KB (knowledge base). I told everyone that I’d include the link to the definitions KB article when I email out the link to the SUG meeting minutes.