The UCLA Mathematics Undergraduate Student Services office supports over 2,000 math majors and manages 20,000+ general course enrollments. Like many departments at UCLA, they are made up of a small team and are consistently inundated with requests. Managing a high volume of emails in a shared inbox is cumbersome and inefficient for both staff and students waiting to receive a response.
Last fall, the Department hosted its first virtual town hall specifically for undergraduate students to voice their concerns to the Department Chair (Prof. Mario Bonk) and Undergraduate Vice Chairs (Profs. Don Blasius and Michael Hill). One of the main student concerns was the long response times for email requests.
Leadership immediately began working with the Mathematics Computing Group (MCG) who proposed a helpdesk ticketing system as a viable solution. Zendesk, a SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud-based ticketing system, is used by many departments in the UC system. When an email is sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, it becomes a ticket on the Zendesk platform. Through the Zendesk administrative portal, undergraduate staff can view status in real-time and organize, respond to, and manage support tickets.
The official roll out of Zendesk in the Department took place during winter quarter. The hope is that this new system will increase efficiency and result in a better customer service experience for undergraduate students.
Undergraduate town halls will continue to be hosted quarterly as part of a larger effort to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students. To learn more about the town halls and other action items the Department is taking, please visit: https://ww3.math.ucla.edu/undergraduate-townhalls/.