The Resilient Registrar: Part Three

Registrars are often called to be policy-keepers, enrolment managers, and experts in customer service. Essentially, it is our job that people feel valued and important, even though sometimes we have to tell them they can’t do something. That can be exceptionally challenging!

Sound familiar? A lament we received from a fellow Registrar certainly resonated with four seasoned veterans of the profession. I’ve already posted two responses to the lament, one from Glenn Keeler, and one from me. Today’s post was written by Bev Ross, the Registrar at Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta.

To refresh your memory, here are the questions again:

I am wondering if you find that, as Registrar, the majority of your job is trouble shooting and being the “bad guy”? Does this cause you stress? If so, I wonder how you personally deal with it?

The reason I ask is that lately I have been finding myself very short of patience and easily frustrated. I think this might be due to the fact that most of what I deal with during the day is problems. Also, I find myself having to keep everyone to the rules and confronting those who don’t follow policy – sometimes it feels like I’m banging the same drum all the time.


Bev Ross responded here:

I like challenges and I am not afraid of change.  A Registrar must be willing to promote change, as needed.

Many things have changed on our campus in the last few years and I have had to coordinate many of these changes as they relate to faculty, staff and students.  I began my tenure here asking the question, “why?”  I wanted to understand why we did things the way we did.  What was important?  I then thought much about how we might approach some of these matters differently.  Would the changes make a difference for those involved?  Would they help?  I then went through the appropriate channels to make the changes that I thought were necessary, after extensive consultation.

Reading the last response by Grant to these questions, I was reminded that one of my priorities when I came here was to spend time getting to know people (faculty, staff, students).  I take advantage of every opportunity to spend time with each of these groups.  I take advantage of every opportunity and responsibility to build rapport with faculty, students, staff.  I have worked very hard to build rapport, so that people feel free to come to me with their concerns and questions.  This has been very important to me personally and to the functioning of our institution.

Attending WARUCC, ARUCC and various Alberta government meetings has also given me a clearer perspective, a better understanding of the various issues we face.  This has given me some objectivity and helped when trying to explain these matters to others.

I mentioned to someone this weekend that I really enjoy my job and she was surprised and said that it is unusual to see someone who likes what they do.  I am by nature a detailed-oriented person.  I think that a registrar needs to be happy taking care of details, but also looking at the broader picture.  I think a person needs to understand deeply what this position entails and needs to understand who they are as a person.  If there is a fit, then most days will be fulfilling and some not so much.  I don’t like having to enforce the rules.  But it has been helpful to me to understand the reasons and then be able to explain those reasons to the person I am dealing with.  The refining of some of our rules and processes has also helped to break down some of the barriers.

It has also been helpful to ensure that the teaching faculty are aware of why we do things the way we do.  It is vital that our office is supported by the teaching faculty.

Above all else, I think a Registrar needs to be a patient person.  As they say, Rome was not built in a day.  I see my “job” as a whole lot more than just a job.  It really is a ministry to me.  I can influence others at all levels in ways that many others on campus cannot.

As a Christian, I am very comfortable with who I am in Christ and His love provides me great comfort and peace in the midst of the challenges we face.  I know I can trust Him!

Bev Ross


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