Ensuring the Registrar's voice is heard

May 29, 2020
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Innovation, risk taking, and lifelong learning are keys to a successful career in the registrar’s office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to Mary Callahan, the University Registrar and Senior Associate Dean.

In the latest issue of College & University, Kristi Wold-McCormick, University Registrar at the University of Colorado Boulder and AACRAO Vice President for Records and Academic Services, interviews Callahan, who shares her experiences working at MIT for more than three decades.  

Callahan oversees registration, grades, degree audits, tuition, and scheduling, as well as supports educational innovation through curriculum development funds and programs that recognize excellence in teaching. She serves as a partner in faculty governance, leads efforts to evolve student systems, and helps senior administrators understand the character and impact of programs. In addition, she has led and supported projects such as digital diplomas, open data, and “micro-masters.” 

To ensure her office has a voice in new projects, Callahan said partnership has been important.

“One of our strategic objectives as an office is to emphasize our role as a key partner in the ecosystem that enhances the educational experience,” she said. “There is a true partnership on campus and the registrar’s office is the connective tissue of that community.”

She also talked about how the registrar's role has evolved in response to changing demands over the course of her career, and what helped her to succeed in that role.

“Over the years, I had observed at MIT (and at other places across the country) that the role of registrar was evolving from more of a background role and academic policy wonk to a service provider and institute-wide collaborator," she said. "In order to be a collaborator, you would have to welcome diversity of opinion, be comfortable sharing information, and be responsive to change."

Callahan also discussed how confidence was important to her advancement as a woman leader in higher education.

"Over time, the role has opened up to more women and minorities, enabling colleges to be better equipped to serve all students," she said. "Seeing a multicultural workforce become a reality in our profession is a joy for me to witness, and so critical for the future. Seizing the opportunity with self-confidence and a little self-promotion made all the difference for me. Bet on yourself, get specific encouragement, and you can flourish!” 

Read the full interview here. 

Other articles in this issue include: 

Features

Eliminating the Graduation Application: Leveraging Degree Audit Data to Promote Student Success by Amber Cellotti, Rachel McKessock, and Adrienne Bricker 

What Constitutes Success in Postsecondary Education by Bradford Chaney and Rebecca Lake 

An Interview with Luisa Havens by Jeff von Monkwitz-Smith

Commentary

Commencement Matters: Leave the One Size Fits Most to the Gowns: Plan the Ceremony that is Right for Your Institution by Jackie Schluchter, Jerri Weston and Sara Sullivan  

At-Risk Assessments: A New Twist on Midterm Grading Policies by Rodney Parks and Alexander Taylor  

Is the Grad Fair Dead? by Ariana Balayan and Emily Kormann  

Research in Brief

AACRAO Research: A Year in Review: 2019 by Wendy Kilgore  

Campus Viewpoint

Creating and Supporting a Trans-Inclusive Student Services Experience by Julie Selander and Stacey Tidball  

Navigating New Application Integration by Jamie Brandon and John Papinchak 

Putting the SEM Endorsement to Work: Perspectives from the Enrollment Management Field by Nick Heisserer, Stacy Maestas, Jennifer McClure, Steven McDowell, and Kristen Taylor 

Book Reviews 

The College Dropout Scandal reviewed by Susan Weisman and Stephen J. Handel