Jarrell speaks on registrars role as “go to person”

Liz Zabel

Faculty members met in the gold room of the memorial union Friday afternoon, May 11, 2012, to hear the final candidate for registrar, Karen Jarrell, speak about her view of the role of the registrar.

Jarrell, assistant provost and university registrar at the University of Texas at Dallas, said on her campus she is known as the “go to person,” which she said is what an ideal registrar is.

“If you need an answer, that’s who you go to,” Jarrell said.

In the past, registrars have been transaction focused — giving grades, transcripts and academic records. Jarrell said registrars now focus more on collaboration and have expanded to become true strategic managers — what she likes to call “entrepreneurs of higher education.”

“We’re in the business of education,” Jarrell said. “We have to be in concert with the university’s culture and promote student learning.”

Jarrell said Iowa State needs a strategic leader: someone who can “rise above the fray.” She said the university needs someone who: believes in the vision of the university, is a team player and acts for the good of the university, puts his or her education and expertise to good use and understands where he or she fits within the university.

She also said the registrar needs to be a “transformational change agent,” someone making a difference in a world that is constantly changing.

“Change is painful,” Jarrell said. “We have to know how to adapt and lead a sustainable change effort with the core principle values of the university.”

Some of the biggest changes are being seen in technology, Jarrell said.

“We’ve seen such dramatic change … an explosion of technology all around us,” Jarrell said. “Technology is our future and we can’t catch up to it … but technology increases the impact on how students learn and how systems operate.”

Jarrell said it is important that the registrar aligns his or her role with the core values, mission and strategic plan of the university.

“We have to seam all of that together to ensure that the core values of the institution are met … in my world, our future is seamless,” Jarrell said.

Jarrell said it’s important to create meaningful relationships to make sure her vision for the university is aligned with Iowa State’s core values. Relationship building, Jarrell said, is about finding out what the culture is here, making sure she’s the right fit for the culture and getting to know people on campus, including students.

The role of the registrar includes trying to figure out what the students needs are and a way to integrate and communicate with them, Jarrell said.

She added it’s important to be a physical presence on campus, which can be difficult with everything going online.

“People need to know who the registrar is and what they do,” Jarrell said. “We really are important and relevant and we’re here to serve them.”