Volume 13, Number 11 February 3, 2006

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PAWS performance raised at Council

The performance of the University’s nearly two-year-old online PAWS portal came under fire at University Council, with a Commerce associate professor charging that its slowness and crashes in September and January caused service problems for students and staff.

At the Jan. 26 Council meeting, John Russell accused Provost and Vice-President Academic Michael Atkinson of reporting that the new online SiRIUS student information system is working well, but not mentioning that PAWS – the portal for access to SiRIUS – has had problems.

Russell said people in his college comment that the system’s slowness and crashes, caused by heavy usage, means that at times there is “a complete inability to provide service to students”.  He said there were times when staff in departments were not able to get through PAWS to SiRIUS to check or update student records.  PAWS is also the portal to get into the University’s new UniFi financial system.

“Yes, let’s celebrate our successes, but if there’s an issue, let us recognize it and make it transparent – not hide it,” Russell said.

Atkinson replied that “PAWS is an enormous success story,” but he said there is no secret that its use has grown so rapidly that there are some capacity questions.  For that reason, he said, the administration has increased the PAWS annual budget by about $150,000 to help with its implementation.

Rick Bunt, Associate Vice-President for Information & Communications Technology, told Council “we were caught by surprise” by the surge in PAWS demand in January, but measures, like adding multiple-server capacity, will help.  He said the University will continue to look for ways to improve PAWS’ capacity and performance.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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