Registrar’s Conference

Sorry for the long hiatus from this blog. I’m still working on developing the habit of blogging, and I fell off the wagon back there a ways.

I’ve recently returned from the 2009 WARUCC Conference (Western Association of Registrars of Universities and Colleges in Canada)

It was a great event, hosted by Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton Their facility – the Robbins Health Learning Centre – is second to none, with everything from “The Heart”, which is where we ate and had our banquet and entertainment, to tiered classrooms with almost invisible technology, to a first class lecture theatre which had a sound system but didn’t really need one. I’ll try to find some pictures to post so you can see how nice it was.

The conference theme was “CIA: The Not So Secret Service”. Service is a common theme amongst registrars, as that is our primary job – to serve the universities and colleges we work at. And this particular theme works because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:
“Hi Grant, nice to meet you. What do you do?”
“I’m the Registrar at Trinity Western University.”
“Oh.” [long pause] “What does a Registrar do?”


The short answer is the Registrar serves.
The long answer is the Registrar helps students navigate their way through higher education, and helps the faculty and administration to provide education to students. Service is what we do, so a conference theme on the secret service is a great idea.

We had three keynote speakers, all very unique and engaging, some of the most unique I’ve ever seen. They made us laugh, they told stories, and they brought us up to speed on what’s out there.
Billy Strean is a laughter expert. He got us laughing non-stop. At first, I was a little weirded-out by the idea of purposeful laughter, i.e., laughter that isn’t from a joke or irony. But he made it fun, goofy, and thoughtful, and soon my inhibitions were broken down and I had a great time. When have you ever seen a room full of 200 Registrar types clapping and saying “Ho ho ho ho ho”?
I highly recommend him as a speaker.

The second keynote speaker was Dr. Randy Ritz, who is a master storyteller. He told a couple of stories that were so masterfully told, I swear I could smell the exhaust from the Harley Davidson! He helped us see how stories pass on the values of our organization. For example, he asked us to tell a story to our neighbour about something that happened at work, and then he challenged us to thing about what values that story pass on – why was it memorable enough for us to share? He was exceptional and I highly recommend him as a speaker, too.

The third keynote speaker was Ken Steele, from Academica Group Inc. He’s best known for his free “Academica’s Top Ten” which gives the top ten academic news summaries every day, and for FREE! Ken shared emerging trends in higher education, and what struck me was what appears to be an increasingly competitive spirit amongst Canadian universities and colleges. It’s getting rougher out there and the future looks a little more ominous. Ken’s a great speaker and knows his stuff, highly recommended.

As you can tell, I was quite pleased with all the speakers. They were some of the best I’ve had the privilege of listening to at a conference. More on the conference to come.


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