Published December 5, 2012
Seeking to reduce their environmental footprint, cut costs and provide better service, UB’s graduate and professional school programs are moving toward a paperless application process.
The effort, which UB started in 2000 and recently enhanced by providing applicants the ability to upload transcripts and other documents to their applications, is expected to save at least 200,000 pages of 8.5-by-11-inch paper each year.
“Not only is this a more eco-friendly way of doing business, it will also eliminate unnecessary phone calls and email, cut ink and postage costs, and enable UB to provide better and faster service to prospective students,” says Christopher S. Connor, assistant dean for graduate enrollment management services in the Graduate School.
All graduate and professional school programs—with the exception of six that use a national application service—will go paperless, Connor says. The switch will improve efficiency by allowing faculty members to complete their assessment of applications online instead of on printed paper, he says. It also will give students instant access to their uploaded documents, allowing them to more effectively manage their applications, he adds.
Roughly 25,000 students apply to graduate and professional school programs at UB each year. A majority, 60 percent, are domestic students whose applications typically are five pages. The rest are international students whose applications normally are 10 pages.
Instead of mailing applications to UB, students will use GrAdMIT, UB’s online application web portal.
Ryan McPherson, the university’s chief sustainability officer, praised the Graduate School’s conversion to online applications as a common-sense, yet forward-looking example that others at UB can follow.
“We commend the Graduate School’s leadership, innovation and commitment to sustainability through the paperless-application initiative. Their forward-thinking strategy is a model to increase operational efficiency, protect our limited natural resources and create a better student experience—three of the very core elements of the university’s sustainability agenda,” McPherson says.
UB has been a leader in implementing sustainable paper policies, including the use of 100-percent, post-consumer, processed, chlorine-free paper across university operations for the past decade; cutting in half the number of pages printed at public computing sites through Information Technology’s iPrint management initiative; and the use of 100-percent, recycled, UB letterhead paper.
These types of ideas, McPherson says, will help UB achieve its goal of reducing or offsetting its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. UB already has made strides by opening the Solar Strand, a solar array that produces enough energy to power hundreds of student apartments, and constructing six eco-friendly buildings, including Greiner Hall, which was certified gold under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.