Live from the Annual Meeting: Registrar 201; IPEDS; The new role of the registrar

August 26, 2013
  • AACRAO Connect
  • Records and Academic Services

Reta PikowskyThe NEW Role of the Registrar in Enrollment Management

In their session on the new role of the registrar, presenters Jerry Montag, Director/Registrar, Northern Illinois University; and Reta Pikowsky, Registrar, Georgia Institute of Technology, took a broad perspective on the profession’s evolution. 

To contextualize the registrar’s evolving role, Montag took seasoned session-goers on a walk down memory lane—and gave younger participants a history lesson. (Check out the handouts for the session for photos of keypunch cards and IBM keypunch machines; 1960s registration lines and overcrowded waiting rooms.) This past stands in stark contrast to today’s redirected focus: now the Registrar reaches out to students, and students expect good customer service.


Toward that end, the new registrar:

• Removes roadblocks to the students’ transitions. 

• Educates the campus community by providing training sessions beyond orientation.

• Is visible on the web.

• Participates in strategic meetings with faculty, administration, and staff.

• Takes the lead on projects that bring offices together. 

As an integral part of enrollment management, the registrar must keep in mind that there is always another strategy for increasing enrollment, persistence and graduation, Pikowsky said. 

The presenters encouraged participants to look towards the future, where issues such as affordability, outcomes assessment, increasing STEM graduates, helping with the curriculum and academic innovation, and smoothing out transfer issues will play ever larger roles. 


First-ever Registrar 201
Efforts by both private and public entities in recent years to address prevailing issues in higher education have changed what a registrar does and must be capable of delivering. Data is paramount in this equation, but the job is no longer simply to enter and retrieve it. As such, AACRAO worked long and hard to develop a module to assist experienced registrars to more readily enter this changing environment, and at the 99th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, that vision was unveiled.

Part I: Why?

Many attendees of the first-ever Registrar 201 attended Registrar 101, either in person at past Annual Meetings, or via AACRAO’s online course. Given attendees’ professional and instructional foundation, the faculty structured the course around the “why” questions, rather than the “how-tos”. For example:
• Why are records stored and maintained in a certain way?
• Are there superior alternatives?
• Why is it important that data sharing is the responsibility of the office of the registrar rather than the office of institutional research?
• Why is change necessary?

Discussion of these questions during Part I of the workshop, held on April 13, focused on the importance of the various duties of the registrar and how they tie in to the broader issue of maintaining control over records.

Glenn Munson of Memphis State discussed the benefits of process improvement in light of continual budget cuts and institutional pressure to change and consolidate. Mr. Munson and other attendees discussed numerous modules for self-assessment, documentation, and change.

Tim Amyx of Volunteer State Community College stressed the growing need for registrars to empower themselves with new technology rather than resisting the opportunities they offer for lack of understanding. By building good relationships with the IT department and through self-teaching, Mr. Amyx pointed out how both customer satisfaction and systems implementation can drastically improve.

Part II: Visibility

Part II of the workshop reiterated the need to have a “campus presence.” Brad Myers of Ohio State University talked about being a visible presence, a leader in the registrar’s office and throughout the university. In this regard, active engagement is key. Attendees discussed techniques for collaborating with other departmental bodies, asking the right questions, and providing both useful and timely data.

Tina Falkner of the University of Minnesota discussed balancing multiple entities’ growing need for registrar’s records with federal regulations that work to maintain their confidentiality. While recent regulations have made data more sharable, data integrity is still an essential duty.

Stan DeMerritt of Wayland Baptist University talked more generally about leadership. He shared practical ways to self-assess, both on an individual level and staff-wide. Discussion revolved around how to be a good manager and leader, and how to use data and skill sets to effectively develop and implement strategic plans at the office level.

Finally, Kimra Schipporeit from the University of Nebraska addressed the need for all of these skills to be developed for the future. With MOOCs, competency-based credit, growing costs, and calls for accountability, the registrar of the future must be able to operate in a collaborative environment. The assimilation of new techniques and technologies must be more rapidly implemented. Active leadership must be leveraged to gain institutional buy-in for initiatives that will ultimately improve work flow and student outcomes. The first Registrar 201 workshop thus ended on a successful and insightful note. Looking towards the future, the attendees will be better prepared, and have the network available to better overcome future challenges.

IPEDS: The Public Face of the Institution; and Benchmarking

Over the weekend, AIR and AACRAO presented a preconference workshop on IPEDS, emphasizing that the data submitted by our institutions have become, increasingly, their public faces. 
As presenters Mr. J. Keith Brown Senior AIR Fellow, Cary, NC; and Dr. Mary Ann Coughlin, Assistant Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Springfield College, Springfield, MA, explained, some 7,500 institutions are in IPEDS. Not only is the submission of this information a federal requirement of institutions with Title IV funding; but because the information is used in so many new ways, 200 of those IPEDS institutions submit their information even though they do not receive Title IV funding.
IPEDS data relates various messages about the institutions and shows up in many places”such as:
• Search engines.
• US News and World Report.
• Performance funding and accountability systems.
• College Navigator, used by students and parents to find institutions to apply to
• Petersons.
• The Education Trust.
• The American Association of University Professors.
• College Scorecard, a program recently announced by the President.
• The Delta Cost Project, covering trends in college spending.
• FAFSA reports.
Several new IPEDS projects include:
• The IPEDS trend generator, which aggregates data at the state level
The College Affordability and Transparency Center where there is a net price calculator.
• College Results Online, which used to be a Pew and Education Trust site using IPEDS data.
Soon IPEDS will also collect employment data.

The IPEDS universe is composed of 10 surveys run during collection periods in the fall, winter, and spring. Different groups get different surveys, depending upon keyholders’ (institutional respondents’) responses to initial screening questions. Once IPEDS is reported and published, it is publicly available, so it is critical to understand your data. Given the expansion of public access to IPEDS, the data has gotten better over the past 10 or so years.

The full-day session also gave participants an opportunity to explore online the IPEDS system and to create their own groups and practice making comparisons among the different variables they are tracking. They were able to view and understand some of the many places and projects where their IPEDS information represents, and describes, their institutions to the public.

By: AACRAO Connect



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