Academic journal article College and University

The Mission of the Registrar: A Ten-Year Retrospective

Academic journal article College and University

The Mission of the Registrar: A Ten-Year Retrospective

Article excerpt

Records management, database management, and business process management-what do they have to do with the mission of the registrar? This article takes a look at how well the 1995 article, "The Mission of the Registrar Today," did in predicting the direction of the registrar's profession and makes some new predictions about future responsibilities and future staffing. Registrars manage more than records and data; they manage many of the critical business processes of the institution. Building the right staff will be essential in accomplishing the mission of the registrar.

It has been ten years since my article "The Mission of the Registrar Today"1 appeared in College and University journal. The article was written in response to a concern that technology would make the registrar an invisible administrator. As self-service systems were being developed, registrars were apprehensive that their standing and importance would be diminished. The 1995 article stated:

As a result of technology, the registration and records functions are becoming more automated and the registrar is becoming a data manager. Data management is a wonderful responsibility for the registrar to have in the Information Age. However, there is danger lurking in the lure of technology. Technology can turn the registrar into an invisible entity on campus. As faculty and students gain more direct access to data, there is less need to come see the registrar. Is the registrar a necessary position? Will the registrar disappear?

This paper will look at the predictions made in 1995, explore how real-time processing shapes the duties of the registrar, and suggest how office staffing might change.

Excerpts From the 1995 Article

Here are a few of the points that were made in the 1995 article:

"There will be more assistant registrars or other comparable management-level positions supervising automated functions in addition to those managing the service providers."

"Registrars should be positioning themselves as academic service leaders and student information system leaders. Registrars need to re-affirm the faculty and student services component as well as the records technology component. Registrars now provide a service as the regulatory agency of campus academic policy. Most enforcement will be done in the future through controlling the database. By controlling the information system, the registrar can monitor the creation of new courses and programs. They monitor grades and graduation. They protect the content and integrity of the academic transcript."

The article suggested three important functions for the registrar:

"First, the registrar can be a leader in the development of campus systems that tie the academic and administrative functions together. The registrar is in the best position to understand how information must pass through the initial entry points and be distributed to others. The basic student record maintained by the registrar has been the hub through which information has flowed to those that need it."

"The second function of the registrar is to validate the data that is flowing into and out of the system. Consistency in the coding of information becomes even more difficult and more critical as data comes into the system from more diverse sources. The old systems permitted only experienced clerks and processors to enter and access the data. Future systems will have information coming in from numerous sources like data services, students, faculty, and other administrators. The data flowing out of the system will be accessed by people not as familiar with the coding structure of the data elements. Inconsistency in the way the data is allowed to be stored will cause confusion for people trying to understand the information. The registrar enforces academic policy and data integrity through the maintenance of system controls."

"The third function is to be a resource to all the system users of student information. …

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