‘Bean counters’ need not apply
Being a registrar — the primary keeper of all student records and arbiter of academic policies — is no easy job at an institution as large and diverse as UNB. There are databases to maintain, enrolment statistics to compile, admission procedures to administer, disciplinary hearings to be conducted, grades to be posted, privacy to be protected — all kinds of complex operations. One might expect that, to a registrar, every student would be ‘just a number.’
That has been far from the case at UNB. Take, for example, Edward Wilmot who served as the first registrar of UNB in Fredericton from 1859 to 1882. His duties included not only those of today (albeit discharged with a quill pen for a much smaller population of students) but also serving as secretary of the Senate and as the institution’s comptroller.
So dedicated was he that, in 1868, he offered to resign to help the university economize. (The Senate declined to take him up on it.) When he stepped down in 1882, he wrote that he had had “a most agreeable business intercourse with the Professors, Officers, and Students of the University.” The students, in turn, presented him with a gold-knobbed cane.
Another beloved registrar was Edith ‘Edie’ McLeod, who served from 1945 to 1968. She greeted every student at registration and is reputed to have remembered their names throughout their university careers and after. (This despite the fact she presided over a period of unprecedented enrolment growth from a few hundred students to more than 4,500.) She was noted for her willingness to do everything in her power to help students with their problems. Of her, university orator Robert Cattley wrote, “Tough lads or tender lasses, all were her brood. And when, in after years, they would return to their Alma Mater, it was…to ‘Edie’ that they brought their sweethearts, spouses or offspring for her approval.”
Her successor, an education professor named Dugald Blue, served not only as registrar, but also as dean of students, with responsibility for the provision of student services such as counseling and residence accommodation. (The roles were soon separated when it became apparent the workload was too onerous.)
Despite the demands of the office, registrars seem to enjoy a certain longevity. Since 1974 there have been only three on the Fredericton campus. The current incumbent, David Hinton, has held the position for the past decade.
Saint John true to form
The establishment and rapid development of the Saint John campus necessitated the creation of a second registrar’s position. Chemistry professor Barry Beckett became the first in 1976, earning a reputation for personalized academic advising. His impact was substantial. Like the esteemed Edie McLeod, upon his retirement in 1999, he was appointed Registrar Emeritus in recognition of his dedication to students and long service to the university.
UNB’s newest registrar, Mark Bishop, took up his duties on the Saint John campus early in 2010. Of the position, he says, “It provides an attractive challenge in its many roles and responsibilities, ranging from recruitment, policy development and regulation, human resources, and, most importantly, student interaction.
“The key characteristic for success is perspective.”
If there were one thing he could change about the job? “Committee work!” he exclaims.