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NDFCU reports smooth transition

Joe Trombello | Wednesday, October 1, 2003

The Notre Dame Federal Credit Union has experienced only a few minor difficulties in taking over nearly all functions performed by the now-defunct Cashier Services Office, said LaFortune branch manager Michelle Siewert and associate controller Tom Guinan.

“Overall, both the University and the Credit Union have met most of the needs of NDFCU members in the [transfer] of Cashier Services to the Credit Union,” Siewert said. “We have had minor adjustments and problems through this transition – at the time we have minimized the errors that have occurred.”

Siewert said her staff experienced some difficulties in cashing payroll checks from students who are non-members of the Credit Union. Some employees of The Observer were told that, to cash future checks, they would need to open an account with the Credit Union; Cashier Services had performed the check cashing without the need to open any account. However, a memo sent Monday by Guinan clarified the issue, and both Siewert and Guinan said Observer employees could cash checks without the need to open an account.

Guinan attributed the confusion to tellers who may have been unaware of the relationship between Notre Dame and The Observer. He said that, although credit unions are not legally allowed to cash checks for non-members, all University checks may be cashed at the Credit Union because the University is a member.

“I notified the Credit Union that all Observer paychecks are essentially guaranteed by the University because the University funds the Observer payroll,” he said. “As far as I’m aware, The Observer paycheck incident was isolated. I think that can be attributed to the fact that most of the operational planning was done after the students had left in May … this one was an oversight and should have been corrected [Monday].”

Siewert said she did not anticipate the need for students to cash payroll checks from their hometown upon arrival at the University. Many of these affected students decided to open an account with the Credit Union, she said.

She also said that a University policy change prevented faculty members from cashing personal checks – a service that was provided by the Cashier Services Office – without an account. Faculty who are members of the Credit Union may continue to have their personal checks cashed.

“When we absorbed the Cashier Services’ policies, they [the University] did want us to make that specific change,” she said.

Guinan said the decision was made in part because of risks associated with personal check cashing, in addition to the prevalence of ATMs on campus and the infrequency of faculty personal check cashing. Guinan said that consultation with other universities also contributed to the decision to eliminate this service for non-member faculty.

“Our decision was also based on benchmarking we did with other universities – the vast majority of which did not offer such services,” he said.

Guinan said faculty complaints regarding this change have been infrequent – to his knowledge, he has received only three complaints.

Although the Credit Union is separate from the University, Guinan said that the Credit Union has indicated it would perform whatever policies related to the former Cashier Services Office the University requests. Siewert said that frequent communication between Notre Dame and the Credit Union has helped her determine what specific duties the Credit Union may provide.

“The communication between the University and the Credit Union has been very strong,” Siewert said. “We both have the desire of having a commitment of excellence [in serving members].”

The Credit Union, due to its absorption of functions that used to be provided by Cashier Services, allows non-member students to cash personal and third-party checks from parents, grandparents or siblings up to $200 per day. Students may also cash checks issued by the University of Notre Dame without opening an account. The Cashier Services Office, formerly located on the first floor of the Main Building, ceased operations July 1, 2003.