BEHIND THE SCENES
CASHERING & DISBURSEMENTS CENTER
In the world of cashiering, Sac State’s Cashiering & Disbursements Center is unique. Aside from a clearly distinctive customer population (primarily University students, faculty and staff), the most notable factor that distinguishes the Center is the multitude and complexity of services provided, of which cashiering is just one. Accordingly, the individuals who work at the Center possess a sophisticated skill set beyond what is required of a typical cashier who simply accepts and receipts payments and manages a cash drawer.
The Center is staffed by an assistant director, an assistant supervisor, five financial representatives and the OneCard specialist, all of whom are fluent in accounting and a variety of technical and analytical functions. Together, they process the entire volume of the University’s cash transactions.
It’s hard to miss. Enclosed behind a glass wall just inside the entrance to Lassen Hall, the Center is the more visible half of the two adjoining offices that comprise the Student Financial Services Center (SFSC). University business services provided at the Center are diverse and include: collections for an assortment of fees and services; disbursement of staff payroll, student financial aid, travel advances and miscellaneous payments and reimbursements; and cash reconciliations for satellite cash collection sites, including the Student Health Center, the College of Continuing Education, Parking and Athletics.
Every staffer is required to maintain currency in a sea of continually changing policies, procedures and deadlines, and know how to apply them. With high-level authority to access student records, each staff member must also have a working knowledge of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations and understand their role as stewards of the public trust. Each must also master five separate automated technology systems, including the Common Financial Systems (CFS) student and financial modules, CashNet, Blackboard and T2, the University’s online parking system. Most importantly, each must understand the University’s organizational structure to help students and other constituents effectively navigate its complexity.
Behind the scenes, the entire SFSC staff works hard to build a cohesive team, where everyone is valued for her contributions. Cashiering & Disbursements adjoins an office of SFSC cohorts who provide collections, refunds and billing services. Together, they form a team representing five generations, where long-term employees provide continuity, newer hires bring new perspectives, and support for one another is customary. SFSC reinforces its high-energy, supportive environment through team-building activities (de rigueur at staff meetings), team lunches twice a semester, and a bulletin board displaying “kudos” to publicly recognize team work.
In fact, the successful merger of OneCard Services with SFSC, a significant operational change beginning in fall 2010, can be attributed to high levels of staff professionalism and a positive approach to change. The relocation of the two-person OneCard staff to the Lassen Hall location resulted in the integration of staff and operations, more available space for campus use, expanded coverage options and, most importantly, simplified access to services for students.
Because the Center is often a student’s first point of contact with the University, the staff takes their roles as University ambassadors seriously. For them, creating a welcoming environment is essential. They are trained to provide a “one stop” experience, providing accurate information about a variety of University services, which often requires research to guide customers through the proper channels. Maintaining this high level of service requires not just a commitment on the part of employees, but continual training, cross-training, and effective communications, both internally and externally. Because of the high volume of traffic on any given day, they are empowered to make decisions on the spot. And though each employee has her own unique specialty, cross-training ensures that the Center has the capacity to provide a comprehensive set of services at any time.
A particular point of pride for the Center is the excellent rapport they have built with campus partners, most notably Student Affairs. These collaborative relationships have produced an ability to respond more effectively to change and have paved the way for many process improvements that benefit students. For example, last year, the Center partnered with Student Affairs to alter enrollment practices as a way to increase class availability for waiting students. In addition, a new process has evolved whereby an ad-hoc team of colleagues from across the ABA division assists the Center during the first two weeks of each semester, staffing a nearby information table to help students and minimize wait times.
Despite the budgetary challenges that economic conditions continue to bring to the campus, the Cashiering & Disbursements Center remains committed to its goal of providing first-class services to students and the campus community.