Registrars can sometimes get wrapped up in their own little worlds. I use “little” somewhat facetiously, because that world usually encompasses everything from recruiting, admitting, registering, collecting payments, and graduating students – a rather large enough world, thank you very much. Enough to keep the likes of me busy!
But we can’t forget that we work in a college or university, which is a much larger world than the Registrar’s Office. We do ourselves and the college or university a disservice if we limit our span of attention to our office and our role in it. My own research background is in Leadership & Management. I keep myself current in the literature and I’m fortunate enough to teach several courses each year. I have a secondary interest in political philosophy, which I’ve found to be immensely helpful in my research and teaching, but also in my day-to-day work. I’ve actually read Draco and Machiavelli (insert joke here) as well as Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel, Hume, Marx, Kant (ugh), and Mill, etc. I think I regularly surprise the Philosophy and History departments with my questions and dialogue – what would a Registrar know about phenomenology? The Management folks are much too jaded and businesslike to be surprised by anything from the Registrar’s Office [as I give a slightly mischievous look in their direction].
I know a few colleagues of mine also have larger academic interests too. One teaches in Criminology, another in English, and yet another in Law (how I wish I had studied Law!). Our interests keep us in touch with other faculty members and help them to remember we work in a university too.
Why is this important?
There are a number of reasons. It establishes a common ground: we work together and we have a personal connection. Obviously we can’t have a personal connection with everyone, but it helps to have a few good ones. It establishes a small basis of trust on which we can build. We’re not just dirty rotten administrators who “stick it to students” and present more red tape for everyone. We actually have some academic skills too. If we teach, it’s a very good reminder of the basic necessities for students. When I teach, I see the whites of my students’ eyes and when they say they have a problem with registration or something, my ears really perk up. It makes me remember that serving the masses is actually serving that student sitting in the third row, second from the left, named Kathleen who has a life and is important as an individual.
Finally, having academic interests as a Registrar is simply good for us. We’re likely quite adept at explaining this to potential students. Perhaps it’s time to remind ourselves that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Working in an institution that’s dedicated to learning means we have more options than we could hope for in personal development. It doesn’t matter what you learn – take a course in photography or web page development, or (gasp!) philosophy.
It’ll be worth every hard-earned minute.