We had the privilege to sit down with former AACRAO President Dr. Jeff von Munkwitz-Smith recently to discuss his utilization of the Registrar's Self-Assessment.
With more than 40 years of higher education experience across a variety of roles, Dr. von Munkwitz-Smith had some unique insights on how the benefits of this tool.
A Tool for Team-Building
Dr. von Munkwitz-Smith started the conversation by giving some situational context on why he used the self-assessment as a team-building tool for his department at Boston University.
"...They (Boston University) brought me in partly to reform the Registrar's office...One of the things I noticed was the office was spread over part of a floor, mixed in with some other departments, so people didn't know the people in the other sections
of the office really well. There weren't a lot of all-staff meetings, occasionally on somebody's birthday." "...I decided early on that I wanted to do an all-staff retreat, partly to build some cohesion, partly for them to provide input to mission
statements that I was in the process of building, and partly just to get them out of the office for the day."
From the very beginning, Dr. von Munkwitz-Smith envisioned the registrar's self-assessment as a tool for team-building, professional development, and as a way for individuals to share and demonstrate their considerable knowledge in a way that they might
not always have the opportunity to do so.
"I decided to use the online self-audit as a major part of the retreat, we had lunch at a very nice spot on the campus and during lunch we talked about the mission and vision statements, and then we went to a high-tech classroom that had workstations
that groups of people could use, within the group, but also project to the entire group."
"We split the self-audit up into sections and put together cross-functional teams to work on each section. I wanted people not necessarily just working on the sections that most closely related to their job duties. I wanted the academic records people,
some of them to work on the classroom scheduling area. So my senior associate registrar and I split them up into groups. I also wanted to give leadership opportunities to some of the younger staff who seemed to have a lot of potential, but within
the scope of their jobs, they might not have a lot of options for being a leader in the office. I wanted to see how they did and give them some opportunities, and that worked out really well. We identified a couple of people who we subsequently ended
A Tool to Identify Talents and Knowledge
In describing his specific implementation of the self-assessment tool, Dr. von Munkwitz-Smith highlighted the utility of the assessment in identifying those in his team who were able to use
the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and knowledge.
"...We spent probably two hours working in groups, the Senior Associate Registrar and I served as resources to all the groups, if they had a question about something we could help them. It also allowed some of the more experienced staff to be the experts,
and we seeded the groups with those folks, who had been doing their job for a long time, maybe they were kind of quiet but wanted people to see that "oh, Becky is really knowledgable" or "Adam knows this process really well, we can go to him in the
future." After a couple of hours, we had each of the groups do a presentation to the entire group about the section they were working on, the things they learned, and problems they saw. We actually identified some problems and came up with solutions
based on the self-audit."
Throughout the conversation, Dr. von Munkwitz-Smith painted a picture of community, networking, and collaboration. Dr. von Munkwitz-Smith demonstrated his innovation and leadership by using the self-assessment as a tool to encourage growth and confidence
in each member of his team.
"...One of the things I noticed was that people weren't just hanging out in their own group from their own section, it was a more mixed group, some of them were talking to other people in their workgroup from the self-audit, people got to know each other
a little better."
At the conclusion of the exercise, attendees were invited to participate in a survey that garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback. Also of note were the positive reactions from university leadership to the exercise in general, and the problems and solutions
identified in particular.
A Preparation Tool for Larger Projects
Dr. von Munkwitz-Smith noted during the conclusion of the interview that the self-assessment is also an oft-recommended and encouraged tool for offices to use both prior to engaging with a consultant
and after the consultancy has completed. This gives institutions a specific benchmark by which they can measure the effectiveness of the consultation.
Interested in utilizing the registrar's self-assessment in your office? Visit AACRAO's On-Demand Learning page to gain access.