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Spotlight: Cornell Creates an Award-Winning Student Experience with the Help of Salesforce

By February 28, 2019

Creating a digital “one-stop shop” for students to find information in a single place helps create a better student experience
Cornell University offers hundreds of opportunities for students like international study, research, fellowships, career development and much more. While all of these programs offer life-changing experiences and glimpses into potential career paths, they’re not always easy for students to find. In fact, one student described the entire process as a “Cornell treasure hunt.”

Like many higher ed institutions, Cornell has many different departments, schools, and organizations, and each of them had its own website. To add a layer of complexity, each site typically had its own way of presenting its opportunities to students as well.

 Cornell Creates an Award-Winning Student Experience with the Help of Salesforce

Program providers across campus formed the Cornell Student Experience Initiative (CSEI) to connect students with thousands of opportunities beyond the classroom. A centerpiece of that effort is the newly launched website that invites students to “find your opportunity.”

“We leveraged the strengths of both Drupal and Salesforce to create a dynamic web experience that’s layered on top of a powerful data foundation. It’s up-to-date and in-sync with active business processes.” –Vicky Mikula, Assistant Director, Cornell IT Commercial Applications

Site powered by Education Cloud

Powered by Education Cloud, the website is a digital one-stop shop for students to find programs and effortlessly explore all Cornell has to offer. The website’s branded, social front end paired with powerful analytics in Salesforce behind the scenes is what makes this so innovative. “It seeks to create, in essence, a sensory network of the student experience,” said Rebecca Joffrey, Cornell’s IT Innovation Officer. Students have access to state-of-the art tools to navigate the many micro-journeys that make up their academic and co-curricular experience. Simultaneously, data in Salesforce is helping advisers understand the impact each program and its outreach has on students’ success – allowing university administrators to provide individual students with resources they need when they need them.

Here’s our future plan for what that will look like in action: when a student registers for a travel program on the website, the system triggers an alert in Salesforce to inform a student services advisor that the student will be off-campus next semester. The system can then automatically assign resources, people and files to this student’s upcoming endeavor and monitor metrics like engagement throughout the process. All along, the student is being taken on a journey with things like chat group suggestions for students traveling off-campus, personalized to-do checklists, and more.

The idea of creating a simple, intuitive user experience that addresses the needs of students, administrators, and staff is one thing. Bringing that idea to life is another. That’s why this groundbreaking initiative was recently selected as one of 50 winners of the 2019 Digital Edge 50 Awards, given by IDG – a global technology media, data and marketing services company. Winners will be honored at the AGENDA19 conference in March, 2019. We are so excited to celebrate Cornell’s success and recognition for blazing trails in higher ed!

    “A wonderful aspect of Cornell is the investment in resources and opportunities to help our students thrive. With Salesforce we can make sure students have access to the right resources at the right time.” –Ann LaFave, Director of Student Services at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

See how other institutions are blazing trails across all aspects of the student lifecycle and experience in this e-book.