Student Data System Getting Comprehensive Upgrade

Project Orion Will Integrate Information Touching All Aspects of Academic Life

Jan. 10, 2008

UT Dallas recently initiated a project to create a new, Web-based information portal that will one day manage virtually every aspect of a student’s academic career. 

More about Project Orion

Widely known as TexSIS, or Texas Student Information System, it eventually will establish shared systems at UT Dallas, UT Arlington and UT Tyler for storing student data.  TexSIS will serve nearly every user of University data, including students, faculty and staff.  

UT Dallas’ implementation effort and local system has been dubbed Project Orion.  Orion will replace the current student information system, SCT Plus.  As enrollment has grown, that program is nearing its capacity to meet the University’s needs.  Orion’s launch will involve a two-year initiative and partnership among the UT System, UT Dallas, UT Arlington and UT Tyler. 

Who’s Involved

A UT Dallas team has been working to implement Orion since April 2007. Representatives from the offices of information resources, strategic planning and analysis, recruiting and admissions, the bursar, financial aid and the registrar are part of that group.

Representatives from CIBER Inc. have been designated as UT Dallas’ implementation partner for Orion, and their employees are on campus full time for the duration of the project for training and assistance.  CIBER is a consulting firm that helps design, build and incorporate integrated, Internet-based support programs.  The company serves both private and government sector clients. 

Orion will employ PeopleSoft software.

“Orion will help us better and more efficiently serve our students,” said Jim Gary, vice president and chief information officer.  “The increasing importance and sophistication of information technologies makes a shared services environment key.  Our goal is to meet the challenges involved in this effort and to provide the most economical solution possible.” 

The project organizational structure is as follows:

Executive Committee

  • Hobson Wildenthal, provost — chair
  • Darrelene Rachavong, vice president for student affairs — executive sponsor
  • Jim Gary, vice president for information resources — technology
  • Jody Nelsen, associate vice president for business affairs — financials and human resources
  • Susan Rogers, vice president for communications — communications

Steering Committee

  • Vickie Flores, director of program management — chair, project director
  • Cristen Casey, director of international student services — international student services
  • Michael Coleman, dean of undergraduate education — advising
  • Cathy Coursey, associate director of financial aid — financial aid
  • Austin Cunningham, dean of graduate studies — faculty
  • Sheila Amin Gutierrez de Pineres, associate provost — recruiting and admissions
  • David Holmes, director of architecture and infrastructure services — infrastructure and technical
  • Richard Huckaba, assistant provost — provost’s office
  • Karen Jarrell, university registrar — registrar
  • Toni Messer, director of audit and compliance — audit and compliance
  • James Michalek, enrollment services officer — admissions/recruiting technical advisor
  • Wanda Mizutowicz, associate vice president for business affairs — student financials/financial system
  • Claire Occhipinti, assistant director of human resources — human resources
  • Larry Redlinger, executive director of strategic planning and analysis — reporting
  • Dana Smith, systems analyst — student systems technical advisor
  • Leah Teutsch, director of information security — security and identity management
  • Valerie Williams, enrollment services officer — director of recruiting 

Project Advisers

  • Dana Smith, systems analyst — technical co-leader, technical resources
  • David Holmes, director of architecture and infrastructure services — technical co-leader
  • Karen Jarrell, university registrar — functional
  • Cristen Casey, director of international student services — functional
  • Cary Delmark, director of communications — portal
  • Jim Michalek, enrollment services officer — admissions and recruiting

Project Team

  • Vickie Flores, director of program management — project director
  • Mark Salmon, systems analyst — technical resources, reporting technical
  • Cheryl Friesenhahn, director of financial services — student financials functional
  • Sabrina Shi — student financials technical
  • James Dorman, student financial aid officer — financial aidfunctional
  • Alex Nestor, systems analyst — financial aid, portal technical
  • Jennifer McDowell, associate director of records — student records
  • Rick Sullins, systems analyst — student records
  • Alison Rackler, enrollment services processor — admissions and recruiting
  • Scott Simpson, systems analyst — admissions and recruiting, portal technician 
  • John Harvey, senior business analyst — training coordinator
  • Peggy Attari, senior information security analyst — security
  • Nicolas Valcik, associate director of strategic planning and analysis — reporting, planning and analysis


The goal is that all areas of Orion will be fully functional by fall 2009.  Because the project will take the work of many dedicated UT Dallas staff and have such a big impact on the campus community, there will be regular updates on the progress of Orion. 

Look to News Center and the Project Orion Campus Solutions Web site for important information and to learn how the transition will affect you.

Media contacts:  Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]
or Vickie Flores, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4543, [email protected]

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April 21, 2018