University of Louisiana at Lafayette maximizes the power of their campus card
University of Louisiana at Lafayette expands services, integrates offices, and streamlines processes with TouchNet OneCard Campus ID.
By maximizing its many capabilities, the card system solves problems and simplifies campus operations.
Today’s campus ID card is capable of much more than providing identification and opening doors. As the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) expands as an institution, they are taking advantage of modern ID technology that facilitates processes all over campus, from parking lots and laundry services to classrooms and libraries.
UL Lafayette has grown significantly and recently achieved R1 status as a top-tier research university in the United States. As academic programs have progressed, so too has the campus and the services it offers. The UL Lafayette card office, led by Kari Foti, has supported the growth by working with academic departments and service providers to enhance the campus experience with a powerful solution.
Single card, many uses
UL Lafayette’s campus card, known as the Cajun Card, is a Swiss army knife. A single object with multiple functions, and applicable to traditional needs as well as new, creative uses.
The Cajun Card handles access and payments on campus, facilitating students' engagement with dining, laundry services, libraries, class and exam check ins, events, parking permits, access to housing and academic buildings, and more.
Students and authorized users can deposit money to the card, called Cajun Cash, which operates like a debit account for payments. Students can use it to pay for goods and services across campus, including athletic and other events, non-dining hall food services, overdue library book fees, or for materials in the 3D printing lab.
Accepting Cajun Cash allows academic departments and other campus vendors to sell supplies and services without handling cash, reducing reconciliation work for staff and PCI scope for the institution. It also improves the student experience, as transactions are quick and seamless throughout a day on campus.
Even off-campus vendors can work with UL Lafayette’s Card Office to accept Cajun Cash, and the office receives a percentage of the transactions. Students enjoy the convenience of the payment method and the expanded options for dining.
Students can upload their own photo to be displayed on their Cajun Card, which seems minor but creates a significant benefit. Each semester about one third to one half of students use the upload process, reducing the staff needed for in-person photos and saving costs for the office.
Promoting a solution to problems
One of the reasons for the widespread adoption of the Cajun Card is the promotion of its practical powers to groups across campus. Foti seeks out offices and student organizations that could use the card system to solve a problem or facilitate their activities.
By integrating with the recreation center’s and residence halls' software, the Cajun Card provides the data needed to manage the access levels of students. It also allows professors to pull data on how students are using on-campus resources, such as who is entering a laboratory to do course work.
Dining services receive transaction reports from card data, helping them improve their service delivery. Recently, the card office worked with Sodexo, their food services provider, and TouchNet to develop online ordering from dining services.
“We are getting the word out to let everyone on campus know that with Cajun Card there might be a solution to an existing problem they have.”
— Kari Foti Director, Cajun Card Office, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Successful hub and spoke model
A second reason for the success of the Cajun Card is the structure of the card system.
The card office acts as a hub and the services it supports as spokes, all working together to keep the campus running. Foti’s team manages the core solution while the specific functions are managed by offices across the university, creating an efficient and effective system.
UL Lafayette’s hub and spoke structure is a model for other institutions trying to balance administrative centralization and departmental decentralization. Each office can independently manage their service with expertise and authority, and make the service available to everyone via the campus card. Software integration makes the processes streamlined if not automated, connecting the spokes to the hub.
A key part of their hub and spoke system is how UL Lafayette handles the security aspects of credentials and access. Campus IT security is responsible for setting permissions, including automating the onboarding and offboarding of new students and employees, while the Card Office handles access through verifying and printing ID cards.
Built for growth and utility
Foti sees more opportunities to expand what the Cajun Card can do for students and the institution. In addition to integrating with offices across campus, Foti is encouraging student groups to use Cajun Cash for their activities, such as fundraising and greek life events. She is also gathering data from card usage to organize, share, and analyze the data to find insights that will improve processes and results.
Foti also notes that with campus cards, convenience is king for the administrators integrating their department software into it and for the students using it everyday. The results are achieved by prioritizing the technical aspects of the card system to ensure that processes run smoothly and consistently.
When technology works it fades to the background. A card is presented, a door opens, and someone goes about their day without pausing. Ease of use and application to numerous situations has made the Cajun Card a success across the campus, providing UL Lafayette with a tool to create positive student experiences and support a growing institution.