The registrar and IT partnership

April 5, 2018
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Technology

by Stacey Tidball, Academic Support Resources: Director, Continuity and Compliance at University of Minnesota

At last week’s AACRAO Annual meeting in Orlando, a session on “The Registrar and IT Partnership” addressed collaborations between the registrar’s office and information technology. Moderator Scott Campbell (University of Chicago) and presenters Elizabeth Kienle-Granzo (New York University), John Papinchak (Carnegie Mellon University), Kara Saunders (University at Buffalo) and Kristi Wold-McCormick (University of Colorado Boulder) covered a range of topics including:

  • governance,
  • project funding,
  • project management,
  • setting priorities at an institutional- and campus-level, and
  • how to improve relationships between offices.

Effective decision-making models

Each institution had different governance models for making technology decisions but all shared that governance was critically important to effective technology decision-making. By working through governance, institutions could better address the competing demands for technology resources and advance projects with the most urgency or strategic benefits. University of Colorado Boulder noted that they have a Student IT Governance Board, which provided an important and unique voice in their governance process.

Limited time and resources and the volume of potential projects can create tension, the presenters noted, which can best be handled by open communication between registrar’s offices, information technology, and the various “customers” of technology on campus. The decision-making processes should be as transparent as possible so that people understand why some projects move forward and others wait. User groups for different technologies can provide valuable feedback on what projects to undertake and create a feedback loop with IT, and those on the business side.

The human element: Bring treats

Each presenter noted the importance of the human element -- work went most smoothly when staff from the registrar’s office and information technology spent time understanding each other’s needs and valuing the different skills they had to offer. They can work together by not blaming each other when customers are unhappy, recognizing each other’s successes with leadership, and spending time understanding different perspectives. Bringing treats never hurts either!