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OIT will shutdown SPIRE to implement a software upgrade

The Office of Information Technologies (OIT) is shutting down SPIRE Oct. 8-14 in order to update software and introduce the new degree audit tool.

According to Dori McCracken, a representative from the Undergraduate Registrar’s Office, the new academic requirement report, or the new degree audit tool, will replace SPIRE’s degree progress report.

“The current degree progress report is ‘static,’” said McCracken. “You can look at [the current degree progress report] just like a piece of paper … you can get information from it but you cannot do anything with it. The new academic requirement report is an interactive tool and is hyperlinked.”

The report allows the student to look at the requirements, see the courses that fill those requirements and follow the hyperlinks to the course descriptions.

“If it tells you that a requirement that is filled by English 354, but you do not remember what English 354 is, you can click on the hyperlink and bring up the description from the course catalog,” said McCracken.

McCracken also mentioned what she feels is the “most exciting part of the upgrade.” She said, “If you are in the enrollment period, you can add a course [to your schedule] straight from the academic requirement report. So, we have put together enrollment with advising.”

SPIRE will be unavailable for access from 5 p.m. on Oct. 8 to 9 a.m. on Oct. 14.

When asked what she would say to students who are possibly inconvenienced by this shutdown, McCracken said “that OIT could not do it in any less time, because it is a major upgrade.”

The new academic requirement report will not be available when SPIRE comes back online. According to McCracken, “[OIT] hopes [the new academic requirement report] will be available very quickly … but [the students] will have to wait a little bit, because we need to make an academic requirement report for every student, and there are a lot of [students].”

University of Massachusetts students may be inconvenienced by the SPIRE shutdown. However, many students see the inconvenience as a minor one.

“[SPIRE’s shutdown] doesn’t matter to me at this point in the semester,” said junior Amanda Kohr. “If it were during add/drop period, it would be much worse.”

When asked how she felt about the new academic requirement report, Kohr said, “If it can keep track of all the requirements such as majors, minors and Commonwealth College, it would be a worthwhile tool.”

“I still need to work out some financial aid on SPIRE, so yes it is an inconvenience to me,” said freshman T.J. Wallace.

SPARK, UMail and other frequently used UMass sites will not be affected by the SPIRE upgrades, because they are not run by the same company as SPIRE.

According to the Oracle website, SPIRE is run by PeopleSoft, which is an application produced by Oracle who claims to be “the world’s largest business software company.”

Heidi Dollard, a representative from the student information services department at OIT said, “SPIRE needs an update to take advantage of the new software available from PeopleSoft and to continue to get support from the company.” SPIRE will be upgraded to the software PeopleSoft 9.1.

PeopleSoft will also be coming out with more expansion packs in the future that may cause SPIRE to update as the software upgrades.

According to McCracken, OIT staff believes these updates will directly benefit the students allowing them to more easily navigate and work with SPIRE.

Bobby Hitt can be reached at bhitt@student.umass.edu

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