Section: Features

The Office of the Registrar: the plumbing of Kenyon College

The Office of the Registrar: the plumbing of Kenyon College

At some point or another, virtually every Kenyon student has browsed the course schedule in anticipation of registration for the upcoming semester. But what students cannot see upon reviewing the catalog, however, is just how much work goes into creating it and Kenyon’s academic program. This is due to the efforts of the Office of the Registrar. 

The Office of the Registrar currently employs a team of three: Registrar Ellen Harbourt, Assistant Registrar Phaedra Woodard and Student Systems Coordinator Jessica Landon.

According to Woodard, the Registrar maintains documentation outlining all the work the office must complete within the month in order to keep track of its multitude of tasks. The team then reviews each month’s processes and discusses whether any of the usual procedures should be adjusted. 

According to Harbourt, the pandemic significantly disrupted the Registrar’s typical long-term planning. The team reconsidered each procedure and redid much of the work they completed earlier. After such significant changes, Woodard and Landon recreated the fall schedule. “We worked harder this summer than we would ever work, except for maybe a Drop/Add period at the beginning of any semester. But it was like that for a month and a half,” Harbourt said.

Each staff member answers student and faculty questions and also handles their own specialty areas.  Harbourt affectionately calls her office the plumbing of Kenyon College. “When things are humming along, you never think about the plumbing,” she said. “It’s just there.” 

As the registrar, Harbourt is the primary contact in matters of policy. She sits on the faculty Curriculum Policy Committee and the Committee on Academic Standards. She also communicates the Registrar’s procedures to students and faculty, in addition to compiling data to inform upcoming academic policy decisions. 

Woodard and Landon process the bulk of schedule changes and forms that go through the office. Some of the most frequently used forms include those for enrollment changes, adjustments to course offerings,  transfer credit approvals and degree evaluations, among others. The pair generates each semester’s course schedule from scratch. As faculty change their course offerings significantly from one semester to another, it is simpler for the Registrar to request the course offerings from departments, and then generate course registration numbers and times, Woodard said. 

Landon also coordinates between her office and the technical support teams at MyBanner and Etreive to set up forms students use on a regular basis.

The Registrar must communicate and enforce Kenyon’s academic policy, although it neither drafts nor approves it. Harbourt recognized that in executing Kenyon’s academic policy, her office can sometimes be the bearer of bad news for students. “The faculty as a legislative body create the policies,” Harbourt said. “If we don’t uphold the policies, we are not doing our job. So we’re never doing it to be mean —  we’re doing it because this is a college and the way you uphold the value of the education is to uphold policies.” 

Landon, Woodard and Harbourt agreed that they prized the moments when they saw their office make a personal difference in the lives of students. Landon and Woodard both recalled receiving photographs of weddings and engagement announcements from alumni. Landon said she had sent care packages to a graduated student she was close to.

“I don’t want students to ever be afraid of us or think of the Registrar’s Office as some scary place,” said Landon. “All three of us are very willing to help students with anything. We have students who come in and ask questions that have absolutely nothing to do about registration and we will help you every step of the way.” 

According to an Oct. 15 News Bulletin emailed to all students, initial spring registration begins first for seniors on Nov. 5 and will continue until first years register starting Dec. 3.

 

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