Founded in 1993 and based in McAllen, South Texas College (STC) is a public institution of higher education that provides educational opportunities through excellence in teaching and learning, workforce development, cultural enrichment, community service, and regional and global collaborations. Notably, it is the only community college in the State of Texas to offer five baccalaureate degrees. STC is acknowledged as a world-class institution of higher education and has earned national recognition for the success of its students, the caliber of its programs, and its innovative educational initiatives.
Before 2017, however, STC had no online course catalog management system to serve its more than 32,000 students on five campuses.
“We had only print catalogs, and we used design software to update them,” recalls Christina Cavazos, Director of Curriculum at STC. “Individual pages were created and edited through word processing software.”
The manual process “left room for errors” according to Cavazos. “It did not provide the owners of the content a chance to review and make changes if needed prior to publishing. It was very time consuming, and there was no structure in place for comprehensive oversight.”
When STC realized that it needed to bring its course catalog management into the 21st century, the school formed a committee of about 20 key representatives to research vendors of online systems and view their demos.
“Within this group, we had representation from the instructional divisions, including the Deans of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Nursing & Allied Health, and Business & Technology, and some faculty as well. We also had the Director of Admissions, Director of Comprehensive Advising, Director of Public Relations, and support staff from the Curriculum and IT departments,” says Cavazos.
Among the other systems the committee considered were SmartCatalog and DIGARC. What impressed the committee about CourseLeaf CAT, in Cavazos’s words, was “the workflow setup that allowed department heads to review and approve their pages, but also to assign representatives from each division to review and ensure the accuracy of all pages related to their area of responsibility.”
"Since making the switch to CAT, we’ve received great feedback about making the information available sooner...and our ability to update important policies quickly." - Christina Cavazos, Director of Curriculum
Ultimately, the deciding factor in CourseLeaf’s favor was that it was, according to Cavazos, “the only system that had Degree Works integrated.” STC had recently launched Degree Works, “and we believed it would benefit us to have systems that work together.”
STC launched CAT in 2017, using its 2016-17 academic year catalog. “We already had the print version completed because we wanted to be sure we’d meet our target implementation date,” says Cavazos. “So when we were building that catalog in CourseLeaf, we took our time.”
With the launch of the 2017-18 catalog, however, Cavazos and STC saw just how efficient the process could be. “The content owners could not only correct their content, but they could also be held accountable, since they had to approve the pages through CAT’s workflow.”
Cavazos and her committee colleagues received “great feedback from our administrators, advising staff, and admissions staff, because they all had access to the information earlier than usual. This made it easier for them to advise both current and incoming students about course and degree requirements.”
Yet it isn’t just that CAT is “great and easy to use” that has made it such a success at South Texas College. “What I really liked about the whole implementation experience was the customer service provided,” says Cavazos.
“CourseLeaf staff were wonderful in helping us meeting our target implementation, providing training to our end users, and being responsive to our calls and emails. It made the transition very smooth, and since making the switch we’ve received great feedback about making the information available sooner to our student support staff to advise our students accurately and our ability to update important policies quickly, so that our students and the public always have the most up-to-date information.”