The Stretchy Registrar

Stretching my legs
Stretching my legs

No, this is not a blog post recommending “FREE” Pilates (or mat class for you closet Corner Gas aficionados).  If you missed the recent WARUCC 2015 conference, you missed a good one! I like attending WARUCC conferences because they are small, focused, and relational. The topics and speakers usually have a more local flavour, the schedule is a little more relaxed and there’s time to enjoy the company of colleagues in a collegial atmostphere.

There were three keynote speakers, one for each day of the conference. The opening keynote speaker, Stefanie Ivan, is the one I got this blog title from. She kicked off the conference with a speech on The Evolution of Roles and Responsibilities in Registrarial and Student Affairs: Where we have been, what has changed, and where we are headed and reminding us of all the change that’s gone on around us in the past few years. Here are a few things from her speech that stuck with me:

  • Change & planning are two sides of the same coin because both have an impact on our roles in the Registrar’s Office.
  • Change doesn’t always come at an opportune time (tell me about it!).
  • Our span of influence in universities and colleges is huge; therefore change is inherent in the job.
  • After a long list of things that have changed, she asked us, “What are you being held accountable for?” and “Do you have right people in the right roles with the right responsibilities?” I was reminded of Jim Collins concept of get the right people on the bus and it will drive itself.

These are good questions because they serve to refocus us on what are the important things about our jobs. Stefanie closed her speech with some insight for the future.

  • Get back to basics in order to allow for creativity.
  • Be informed, but do not be afraid – stick to what is central to our roles.
  • Ask in-depth questions about what we are doing
  • Be flexible – develop stretchy policy that can squeeze into the current times and make room for current issues.
  • Make sure our staff understand what is crucial to our roles, philosophy, and what we are accountable for.
  • Be focused on the goal, the outcomes.
  • Build bridges over the gaps.
  • Build relationships because they endure and they can help in times of need.
    • build relationships vertically with those above you (President, Provost, etc.) and below you on your org chart.
    • build relationships horizontally with those around you, perhaps colleagues at another institution who can support you and help you stay informed and up-to-date and can even help you appear to be wise.

The essential message I took from Stefanie’s keynote speech was, “Lead change before it leads  you.”

We know change is coming. We can either lead it or be a slave to it. I know I’d rather lead it.


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