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For the Record, An AACRAO Podcast
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For the Record, An AACRAO Podcast

Author: Doug McKenna

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A Registrar Podcast sponsored by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), hosted by Doug McKenna.
31 Episodes
For the Record – Season 3 Episode 13- Connect, Educate, and Advocate with the Asian American and Pacific Islander CaucusEpisode NotesDescription: With the recent significant rise in racist rhetoric and violence against Asian Americans, members of our community are experiencing fear, anger, and anxiety. In this episode of For the Record, we talk to two members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Caucus to hear their sentiments about the current spate of violence and to talk about ways that we as higher education professionals can support our affected students, faculty, and staff.  Key Takeaways:The Asian American community includes 40 different races/ethnicities. It is not monolithic and is quite diverse. The AAPI Caucus is open to anyone who wants to participate and is an affinity group to provide community, resources, and support to Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.The United States has a long history of persecuting Asian Americans and while we recognize that we can’t flip a switch and create a just society overnight, we maintain hope in our communities and in our service to one another that changing lives through higher education can change the world.Guests:Michelle Tsigaridas WellerAssociate RegistrarNew York Law Chris HuangDirector of Institutional Effectiveness and RegistrarLutheran School of Theology at References and Additional Information:AAPI Caucus - Please visit the AAPI Caucus page for additional resources relating to mental health, training, and ways to volunteer and donate. AACRAO Statement on Hate Crimes Against Asian AmericansAACRAO Caucuses page Core Competency: Diversity and Inclusion
Registrars regularly oversee the practice of how credits are recorded in the academic record and how these credits apply towards educational credentials. Registrars are also often at the forefront of helping to shape the institutional policies related to Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). Listen as Becky Klein-Collins of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) talks through the origins of PLA and Competency-Based Education (CBE), the ways PLA and CBE can assist older or non-traditional learners achieve a credential, and some of the barriers PLA and CBE face when it comes to implementation and adoption by institutions of higher education.   Key Takeaways:Neither PLA nor CBE are new. They’ve been around since the early 70’s. They started as concepts supported by FIPSE, and can be viewed as a way to advance social justice by creating college opportunities for non-traditional populations. PLA is a way for students to receive college credit for knowledge and skills acquired outside the classroom; assessed by faculty. CBE is a comprehensive curricular approach that requires an intentional and transparent approach, and centered around the specific and measurable competencies that a student should have upon completion of a course of study. Many of today’s CBE models are designed to be self-paced, asynchronous, and online.PLA and CBE offer different pathways to credential attainment by members of the workforce and adult learners; both can be used to make higher education more accessible and equitable and be tools to recruit working adults to postsecondary learning.CBE is a movement that could grow after our current moment: self-paced, asynchronous, online learning modules have increased in prevalence and availability over the past year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.Guests:Becky Klein-Collins (pronouns: she/her/hers)Vice President, Impact, CAELbklein@cael.org For references and additional information, visit the AACRAO website. 
Financial Aid is a critical student service office that relies heavily on the student data stewarded by the Registrar’s Office. Many of the things we do in the registrar’s office affect the work of financial aid counselors. Understanding what the flow of the financial aid cycle is, and how the work of the registrar fits into it, can make a big difference for operational efficiencies. In this episode we visit with a director of a financial aid office to talk about some of the ways these two critical offices can work together.    Key Takeaways:The Office of Financial Aid is a critical campus partner and it is essential that registrars establish and maintain strong working relationships with their Financial Aid counterparts.Financial aid is a highly regulated enterprise (as you might imagine) and understanding what is possible versus what is not allowed can help registrars be better advocates for specific kinds of policies or practices on campus. Financial Aid operates on an academic year cycle, which may differ from a registrar’s approach of term-based processes. Guests:Daniel Barkowitz (pronouns: “he / him / his”)Assistant Vice President, Financial Aid and Veterans’ AffairsValencia Collegedbarkowitz@valenciacollege.edu  References and Additional Information:Federal Student Aid Handbookstudentaid.govNational Association of Student Financial Aid AdministratorsComing Soon: AACRAO's Financial Aid publication. Join the email list for updates.AACRAO Core Competencies:Leadership and ManagementCollaborative Decision-Making and Consensus-Building
In a conversation with two members of the AACRAO Black Caucus, this episode focuses on the practical applications and implications of equity and inclusion work. Along the way we talk about the work of the Black Caucus (and caucuses in general), ways the pandemic has challenged registrar’s offices and students alike, and ways that you can begin to engage with diversity, equity, and inclusion work. It’s critical to make space for challenging conversations, and to give grace during those conversations.Key Takeaways:The responsibility for creating an inclusive environment lies with each of us; don’t wait for someone to tell you to work on it.The registrar’s office can be a powerful agent for inclusive change on campus given the breadth of interactions with students, forms, policies, practices, and as the steward of student academic data. AACRAO caucuses are a great way for members to get connected with affinity groups for networking, support, and advocacy.Take the AACRAO Black Caucus’ Pledge for Social Justice: Guests:Philip Hunt, University RegistrarNorth Dakota State Universityphilip.hunt@ndsu.eduElissa Thoman, Registrar Services CoordinatorUniversity of References and Additional Information:AACRAO Signature Initiative - Black Lives Matter: AACRAO Caucuses: AACRAO Advocacy Center:
On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, a group of armed insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC, as Congress held a joint session to certify the election of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris. This episode talks about the implications of this attack on US democracy, how it affects our institutions, and encourages people of good will to be active and engaged in their response. Special Guest:LTC (Ret.) Doug McKenna, Ph.D (That’s my Dad!)West Point Class of 1968; Ph.D. in History from Duke UniversityReferences and Additional Information:The Constitution of the United States of America: by Trump, Rioters Storm the Capitol: 1, 2020 - Clearing of Lafayette Square: Floyd Protests in Washington DC:,_D.C. A Nation of Immigrants: Resources: Core Competencies: 
Since 2015, AACRAO has been leading the charge in the development of a Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR). Partnering with other organizations such as NASPA, and working with a grant from the Lumina Foundation, AACRAO has made considerable progress in these efforts.  CLRs seek to capture, record, and communicate learning when and where it happens in a student’s higher education experience. In this episode we’ll talk with Tom Green and Mark McConahay about the history of the project, the various stages of development, where we are today, and what’s next. Guests:Tom Green, Associate Executive DirectorAACRAOemail: tomg@aacrao.orgMark McConahay, Associate Vice Provost and RegistrarIndiana University - Bloomingtonemail: Key Takeaways:The CLR is a new kind of a record; it is not a replacement for the transcript and not simply a combination of the transcript plus some additional data elements;The CLR is for the student--to assist with communicating the breadth of learning experiences undertaken as part of their academic career;There will be significant variation in what is included and the way the documents are formatted as individual institutions define for themselves what learning looks like at their institutions;The data standards being formulated are nascent but inexorable; registrars need to stay aware of developments relating to the CLR.CLR Showcase Event - Hosted by and Additional Information:Comprehensive Learner Record - AACRAO Signature Initiative: Report on the IMS Global CLR Data Standard: NASPA Site: Global Learning Consortium Site: CLR Roundtable Series: AACRAO Core Competencies: 
Registrar as Superhero

Registrar as Superhero


Sometimes registrars find it difficult to explain to people who don’t work in a registrar’s office what exactly a registrar does. And sometimes a video comes along that not only explains it but does so in an hilarious way.Guest:Tina Miller, Senior Associate Registrar and Chief Residency OfficerUniversity of Washington, Seattle Key Takeaways:Just watch the video and enjoy!
How to Work Smarter

How to Work Smarter


In today’s environment of constrained resources, we are all expected to be more productive. While strategic planning is important, strategic doing is where the rubber meets the road. In this episode we will talk about tools, methods, and approaches to help you focus and operate more efficiently. We’ll discuss resources for individual experimentation within the broad category of “productivity.” Guest: Heather Abbott, Deputy Registrar, Yale Law School Email: Takeaways:There isn’t only one way to work efficiently and productively. Each of us operates within a different work environment or culture, and each of us responds to different approaches differently. Experiment and find what works best for you. Don’t hesitate to stop using a productivity method if it isn’t working for you. The production calendar within a registrar’s office is the annual To Do list that if you don’t consult on a regular basis you might miss something. If you don’t have a production calendar, start today! If you have one, review it regularly. Doug is bad at e-mail. Resources:Productivity:Getting Things Done (via Toodledo) Eisenhower Matrix (via Todoist)Designing Your LifeLaura Vanderkam Before Breakfast podcastTools for Focusing:Pomodoro method (via LifeHacker)Strict Workflow Forest  Building Habits:Habitica The Power of HabitThe Checklist Manifesto Procrastination:Swallow the frog The Now Habit Using Technology Thoughtfully:Hurry Slowly podcast Infomagical Privacy Paradox Honorable mentions:Evernote Asana Trello Confluence Todoist Workflowy Remember the Milk Meanwhile episode on A people (give you energy) and B people (drain your energy) AirTable The Sunday Meeting  and Zero Inbox via Kerry Ann RockquemoreAfter action reviews via Mindtools  or Toggl 
The past several weeks have been tumultuous for international students registered to study at American higher education institutions this fall, as SEVP released much more restrictive guidance than had been issued in the spring. We talk with Steve Springer from NAFSA about the regular requirements for international students, and how the recently released (then subsequently rescinded) guidance affects those. We also hear from Jay Ligon, Director of International Student Scholar Services at Louisiana Tech and Rob Berwick, AVP and Registrar at Jacksonville University about their institutions’ responses.The saga continues! Part of this episode was recorded between July 6 and July 14 when the restrictive guidance was rescinded. Steve and I spoke after the rescission, but we both anticipated additional guidance being released, and as of Friday afternoon, July 24, there is updated guidance for fall. Key Takeaways: There’s a significant amount of uncertainty relating to fall 2020, especially for international students, as multiple rounds of sometimes conflicting guidance has been issued by SEVP. Registrars should be sure to check in with their ISSS offices to partner in any way they can.The role of the registrar is always expanded in a crisis, and the double-whammy of COVID-19 and restrictive guidance from SEVP relating to international students is no exception. Take a students-first perspective: reach out to your international students and listen to their concerns and their needs and see what you can do to provide some certainty for that population especially during these very uncertain times. References and Additional Reading:Student and Exchange Visitor ProgramMost recent SEVP guidance for International Students InternationalCore Competency: Diversity and InclusionNAFSA Timeline of SEVP Guidance
The Carnegie Unit

The Carnegie Unit


The Carnegie Unit grew out of a desire to provide a pension for college professors and turned out to be a significant factor in the standardization of secondary and post-secondary education in the United States. Its continued usage today both helps and hinders innovation in higher education. Discussing the impetus for, continued reliance on, and consequential nature of the Carnegie Unit is Elena Silva, Ph.D., lead author of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s paper, The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape. Key Takeaways: The Carnegie Unit has had a significant effect on the development of higher education over the past 100 years. While there are limitations to its application, finding a replacement for this standard has proven difficult.The Carnegie Unit is a time-in-seat measurement that was never intended to measure learning outcomes or subject matter competency. That remains the faculty’s responsibility.Registrars are critical in ensuring the efficient operation of institutions in order to further the mission of higher education: student learning and the creation of new knowledge.  References and Additional Reading:The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape  Cracking the Credit HourAACRAO Core CompetenciesAcademic Policy & Curriculum DeliveryHolistic and Systematic Thinking
Framing is a way of understanding and communicating about a particular issue. As registrars, we operate in a highly complex world of varying demands. Organizational frameworks can assist us in understanding our various challenges, and organizing our thoughts and approaches to develop plans of action and solutions. Casey Bullock, Ph.D., Executive Director and University Registrar at Weber State joins the podcast to discuss the four main organizational frames and about how expanding our knowledge of different theories and frameworks makes us better registrars and better leaders. Key Takeaways: Bolman and Deal posit four key organizational frames: Structural, Human Resources, Political, and Symbolic; these frames can assist us in understanding organizational issues and help us to develop appropriate solutions.Each of us probably already incorporate these frames into the way we approach a problem, but a more intentional approach that encompasses aspects of each frame would be beneficial; using a worksheet to practice addressing each frame is a good way to get started. Leadership styles are linked to the frames, and should be adjusted appropriately.The greater the number of theories and perspectives that can be brought to bear on a situation, the greater specificity in the contours (see also: if you mush your face into one pin it won’t look like your face, but if you mush your face into a bunch of pins it looks more like your face).References and Additional Reading:Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2017). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (6th edition). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap ... and others don't. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.Cowen, S., with Seifter, B. (2018). Winnebagos on Wednesday: How visionary leadership can transform higher education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Gladwell, M. (2006). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking.Rivera, J.(Producer), & Docter, P. (Director). (2015). Inside Out [Motion Picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures; Pixar.Miller (1979) The Practical Art of Using Theory Weick (1978) The Spines of Leaders_Leadership Where else can we goRelated AACRAO Core CompetenciesLeadership & ManagementHolistic & Systemic Thinking
I was asked to provide my thoughts on the future of higher education for Coursedog’s Community 2020: A Virtual Summit for Higher Ed event. Looking 20-30 years into the future, I talk about higher education re-branding itself as Lifelong Education, how the funding model will change, increased access and representations, the ways students will engage in modular learning, the ways technology will change the classroom and the administration of lifelong education, and of course the record keeping requirements for all of these changes. Key Takeaways: All of this is speculation and a fun thought exercise. These predictions are based on current trends, but the future is uncertain and ever changing. That’s why this is fun! I could be totally off base, but we’ll have to wait 30 years to find out.Lifelong Education is a much better branding for our industry for the kind of learners we will serve in the future. The funding model for lifelong education must change in order for the industry to remain viable and relevant.The academic calendar as we know it will be replaced by modular learning, on individually determined timelines.Today’s disruptive technologies (Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence) will be pervasive in the future. Technology will enable highly immersive hands on experiences that increase learners’ breadth and depth of the subject matter.  References and Additional Reading:Coursedog event siteSlide deck from my presentationNPR : New Report Says Women Will Soon Be Majority Of College-Educated U.S. WorkersNYT: Lesson of the Day: ‘How Technology Is Changing the Future of Higher Education’Books by Futurist Ray Kurzweil
COVID-19 Situations

COVID-19 Situations


The higher education landscape has changed dramatically over the past several weeks as a result of the presence of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. This episode talks about ways the registrar is involved in decision-making on campus, and details three recent situations relating to shifting the academic calendar, the physical relocation of staff, and contemplating policy changes or exceptions to policy specifically related to grading. Key Takeaways: Higher education is an exceptionally complex enterprise and that the registrar plays a critical role in advising the institution on policies that affect the student experience.Reacting to global pandemics requires rational thinking, a steady hand, and compassion; keep the humanity of higher education front and center.Registrars are pretty amazing but we also need to take care of ourselves. Find ways to manage stress and remain healthy.References and Additional Reading:The Ready CampaignNational Preparedness Leadership InitiativeCDC Prevention GuidelinesTeleworking tips from your host, Doug:some tips that I have found helpful over the years:Keep your regular schedule: get up at your usual time (maybe a couple of minutes later to account for a much shorter commute), shower, eat breakfast, work out…do whatever you normally do in the mornings before you would leave for work. Eat a good breakfast: fuel up for the day! This will also cut down on the Work From Home Snack Attacks. Get dressed for work: It’s *super* tempting to lounge around in pjs all day when you’re working remotely but don’t do that. Putting on work clothes is a signal to your body that it’s a work day. You’ll be less sluggish and more productive if you look the part. Stay connected! You might not be right down the hall from your fellow OUR peeps anymore but we should all be logged into Skype for Business and you should feel just fine about pinging someone to say hello. Be responsive to e-mails, instant messages, and calls. Don’t be shy about initiating contact, either, especially if you have a question about something. Stay hydrated! It’s easy to forget to do little things like “drink water” when you’re working from home. The added bonus of staying super hydrated is that doing so will force you to get up and move around a little bit more both to refill your water container and then to use the restroom (wash your hands!). Set up your workspace as a workspace: Try to carve out a location that is just for work and then only do work there. Don’t surf the web, don’t eat meals, don’t do anything except work in that location. Keeping some semblance of balance between “I’m at work now” and “I’m eating lunch now” is important for your sanity. And for the quality of your work. Throughout the day get up and walk around. Stretch. Break up your day into manageable chunks of time. Working from home can feel like a slog sometimes, and it can be lonely, too. Gamify your day by setting a timer and working until the timer goes off and then get up, walk around, stretch, do a plank / pushups / crunches / yoga / jumping jacks / etc. to get your heart rate up a little and then go back to work re-focused!
With the backdrop of a global pandemic (and a suspected case of COVID-19 at George Mason--which turned out to be negative), this episode explores the way that registrars support the work of the emergency manager at their institution. We’ll get a glimpse into the public safety and emergency response world, and talk about ways that the registrar’s mission aligns with that of emergency managers. While not specifically about COVID-19, we will talk about prevention of, planning for, and responses to various emergency situations, including infectious disease outbreaks. Guests: Dr. David Farris, Director of Public Safety and Emergency ResponseGeorge Mason Takeaways: The vast majority of work done by emergency managers is focused on the prevention of and planning for emergencies, and for providing training and resources to assist with campus readiness. (Also, participating on committees.)Registrars play a critical role in supporting the emergency management process at an institution--including during planning, response, and recovery.Emergency managers are great people to know and registrars should cultivate that relationship *before* an emergency happens. References and Additional Reading:Ready.govNational Preparedness Leadership InitiativeCDC Prevention GuidelinesIntroduction to Emergency Management, by Haddow, Bullock, and Coppola The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes, and Why, by Amanda RipleyAACRAO Competencies:Leadership and ManagementCommunicationCollaborative Decision-Making
The registrar can be an advocate for students in many ways. One of the critical ways is putting equitable systems in place that support student success. In this episode we discuss the framework of access, equity, and inclusion, and discuss ways that registrars’ offices can be working toward a goal of equitable policies, practices, and procedures while increasing the cultural competencies of registrar staff.  Guests: Cassandra Moore, Director of Enrollment Development and Admissions Anne Arundel Community Soraira Urquiza, Registrar The American Film Key Takeaways: Equity in education requires putting systems in place that ensures every student has an opportunity for success.Registrars can make a difference for students at their institutions by applying an equity focus to their policies, procedures, and practices;Improving staff’s cultural competencies should be an intentional pursuit; “Equity is the new kale.” (It’s cool to talk about but it’s only beneficial if you actually engage with it.)References and Additional Reading:Center for Urban Education, University of Southern CaliforniaDivision of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, Rutgers University AACRAO Core Competencies - Diversity and InclusionAACRAO CaucusesBlindspot - The Hidden Biases of Good People by Anthony G. Greenwald Mahzarin R. Banaji
Faculty are one of the main constituents for any Registrar’s Office, but, like students, they pose interesting challenges to effective working relationships. In this episode, Dr. Susan Christy, herself a former tenured faculty member, discusses the ways that administrators can work effectively with faculty by understanding their incentive structures and motivations, strategies for communication, and the general mindset to adopt.Guests: Dr. Susan ChristyTenured psychology professor, certified corporate management consultant, and researcher/ Key Takeaways: Faculty members are academics whose entire professional career has reinforced a sense of competition and individual achievement;Registrars and administrators need to understand the faculty’s incentive structure and how it differs from their own in order to communicate and work effectively with faculty; Faculty respect professionalism and competence even if their training leads them to critically question policies and procedures.References and Additional Reading:Working Effectively with Faculty: Guidebook for Higher Education Staff and Managers available on Amazon or directly from Dr. Christy Dr. Susan Christy’s website Faculty and Registrars are Different From One Another Transforming Staff-Faculty Relationships: Progress in Closing the Great Divide Crossing the DivideRelated AACRAO Core Competencies: CommunicationLeadership & ManagementProfessional IntegrityCollaborative Decision-Making & Consensus Building
The registrar’s website is an important (but often overlooked) tool for communication and service delivery. Dan Vainner and Jason Cronkrite from Grand Valley State University discuss the ways that they used analytics, an iterative development cycle, and some creativity to transform their website, adding function AND fun. Guests: Dan Vainner, Associate Registrar, Grand Valley State Jason Cronkrite, Assistant Registrar, Grand Valley State Key Takeaways: Think of your content development as the foundation from which to build--you’re building a web *presence* not just a web *site.*;Analytics are your friend: monitor the pages on your site that are getting the most hits, see if you can make them even more effective in delivering content (OR if you need to revise a different process somewhere else to avoid making people go to your website in the first place);Campus partnerships with Communications & Marketing teams and IT can make a big difference;Have fun with it. Remember that students and parents are people and work to both inform and entertain; Creativity is a bonus. References and Additional Reading:Grand Valley State University Registrar websiteGrand Valley State University’s Pyramid of Power for Web PresenceAACRAO Core Competencies:Technical Knowledge Problem SolvingWeb design and content writing tips:
AACRAO is a national professional association but did you know that there are state and regional associations as well? In this episode we talk to Helena Minerva, Coordinator of Policy and Training at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the current president of the Middle States Association of Collegiate Registrars and Officers of Admissions (MSACROA) about ways being involved with MSACROA aided in her personal and professional life. Guests: Helena Minerva, Coordinator of Policy and TrainingOffice of Policy and ComplianceFashion Institute of TechnologyPresident, MSACROAhelena_minerva@fitnyc.eduKey Takeaways: Your state and/or regional association can be a great way to get exposure to the industry and how other institutions are doing things;Connections made at the state and/or regional association can be extremely useful in your day-to-day work life;You don’t have to commit to being the president of your state and/or regional association in order to get involved;Volunteer! Just say yes! Keep learning and growing! (And read your e-mails!) References and Additional Reading:List of State and Regional Associations MSACROAAACRAO Core Competency: Professional Development and Contributions to the FieldAACRAO Core Competency: Leadership and Management
The season 2 intro is both retrospective of season 1 and a preview of the topics to be covered in the upcoming season.Key Takeaways: Thank you for listening! Season 2 is going to be great: lots of topics both high level and “in the weeds” content. I’m always interested in hearing from you: registrarpodcast@gmail.comReferences and Additional Reading:Dare to Lead by Brene BrownEgo is the Enemy by Ryan HolidayWe Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was enacted in 1974 in a completely different technological paradigm than we find ourselves in today. What are the ways these technological advances affect how we interpret and apply FERPA? What role should the registrar play at an institution with regard to FERPA training and compliance? Helen Garrett from the University of Washington shares her insights and expertise in this FERPA-focused conversation.Guests: Helen Garrett, University Registrar and Chief Officer, Enrollment Information ServicesOffice of the University Registrar, University of WashingtonEnrollment Information Servicesemail: Key Takeaways: Don’t be afraid of FERPA! Do outreach to your campus community about FERPA early and often, *before* there’s a problem (whenever possible). Be involved with your purchasing department for any systems that touch student data.AACRAO and the AACRAO membership are here to help if you have questions. References and Additional Reading:Public Law 93-380, August 21, 1974Legislative history of major FERPA revisons Unintentional FERPA Violations are Still FERPA Violations Beyond Compliance: Students and FERPA in the Age of Big Data  
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