Third finalist for director of the Office of the Registrar speaks about open collaboration


Amber Mohmand/Iowa State Daily

Charlie Couch, the third finalist in the search for Iowa State’s next university registrar spoke at a open forum 11 a.m. Wednesday to discuss the position and meet with Iowa State community members. 

Amber Mohmand

The third finalist for Iowa State’s new director for the Office of the Registrar spoke about open collaboration between students and staff during an open forum Wednesday.

The Office of the Registrar hosted the forum with the theme of “how best can the Office of the University Registrar support Iowa State’s mission and enrollment,” according to Iowa State’s Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost website.

Charlie Couch, the third finalist and current university registrar at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, said the Office of the Registrar should shift its focus to collaborating with students. 

“The reality is we’re asking the students to center their lives around [the Office of the Registrar] and so it should be reversed,” Couch said. “How do we provide the services and technology that serves [the students] versus us?” 

At the University of Northern Colorado, Couch said the process of registering for classes has been built into an online platform. Couch said this method helped students drop and add classes in a timely matter rather than physically going to an office and obtain signatures.

When expanding to an online platform, Couch said another method is to change the current process of academic records and replace it with comprehensive learner records.

The records would include digital learning platforms such as Canvas, portfolios and academic transcripts. Couch said by creating an online comprehensive learner record, it brings all the necessary items into one online platform that is in the students’ control rather than the office.

“It’s always the other way around, always remind our staff ‘put yourself in the shoes of the students, remember your time when you were in college and what was most frustrating to you’ and how do we help,” Couch said. “Put services in a way that makes sense to them and sometimes not so much [to the staff].

When bringing new programs, Couch said it is important to collaborate with students. At the University of Northern Colorado, Couch said his office brought in a group of students to use a new program and the staff watched to catch any areas that could be difficult for the students to navigate. 

“[Sitting with the students] to get a sense of what the student goes through when they’re trying to register for classes at 10 o’clock at night, and they can’t get support or help and something doesn’t work,” Couch said. “So it’s very important whenever you introduce technology or new services, ask them: ‘we want to deliver this for you, how do you feel about this?’ versus ‘we’re delivering this, thank you.’” 

The next forum will be 11 a.m. to noon Friday in the Oak Room of the Memorial Union.