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February 11, 2009

Q. What are the major priorities for the Engineering Registrar’s Office?

Let me first explain what we do …We are responsible for the administrative operations of the undergraduate program including admissions to first year and advanced standing, scholarships and awards, financial aid counselling, first year counselling, registrarial computing and student records, course file administration and scheduling, room reservation services, pre-registration/registration of some 4,500 + undergraduate students, international student exchange program, convocation, examinations, marks and grade reporting, space and facilities management of faculty teaching space, statistical data analysis and information system support. We also support Standing Committees of Council by providing information on policies, precedents, procedures and protocol for the efficient delivery of the business of Standing Committees.

Our goals/priorities are to offer exceptional service to prospective students, current students, staff and faculty members by continuously improving services and enhancing communication and collaboration to support best registrarial practices. We support the Faculty’s vision by continuously exploring new ways to deliver services that help educate the next generation of engineers.

Q. How has the function and focus of the Registrar’s Office changed compared to when you started working here?

When I started in the Registrar’s Office in 1985, the focus was on keeping ahead of the vast amounts of paper work – all first year courses were added to each student record manually; students came into the Office to drop and add course electives; and virtually all enquiries were handled either in-person or over the phone.

The level of office automation was minimal and record keeping was time-consuming and labour intensive – for example, we had to update individual transcripts manually each term, individual admissions committee members kept track of the number of students admitted on paper, and our grading and progression rules were incredibly complex. So, as you can imagine, there was volumes of paperwork/forms and less time dealing with individual student needs.

Q. How many staff were employed in the Registrar’s Office when you first started and what was your first job there?

There were about 13 staff in the Registrar’s Office in 1985 – three fewer than now. However, in 2000, we established an Admissions Office – moving the work previously done by Central Admissions and Awards to the Faculty. Since 1985, our student population has grown from 2,593 to 4,644. Consequently, we are providing more services to a larger pool of students who have 24 x 7 online access to a number of services that were previously paper-driven!

My first role in the Registrar’s Office was that of the Registrar. Upon my return from a four month maternity leave, I moved into the position of Registrar – having previously worked as Executive Assistant to the Dean handling the HR and Financial functions for the Dean’s Office.

Q. If you had unlimited resources, what would you change to enhance serves to students?

That’s a very good question. So I can dream about having unlimited virtually unlimited resources to enhance the services we offer. Here’s my wish list:

  • Enhance student engagement and overall student retention
  • Significantly provide more financial resources for students in need – no student should have to work excessive hours to support her/himself while going to school
  • Provide more merit-based scholarships to students who excel academically
  • Introduce more coaching and mentoring programs
  • Provide more consistent advising in the Faculty
  • Offer service-on-demand to students through increased automation, and web conferencing and provide secure degree tracking mechanism for all students
  • Provide online calendar with search capability
  • Create paperless student records and e-portfolio for all students
  • Provide access to final grades for all students within two weeks of writing their final exams

Q. What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

We are here to serve students and help them succeed in their journey.

Student engagement and student success are very important to me and give me great satisfaction. I have a terrific team in the Registrar’s Office to serve students and faculty. My interactions with students, faculty and working with a committed team energizes me and makes my job as Registrar more fulfilling.

For instance, working with first year students who initially struggle as they transition from high school, to eventually complete their undergraduate program and become successful alumni. Also, working with staff who are conscientious, creative and eager to continuously improve services and make a difference.

Q. What is your fondest memory of working here?

My goodness, there are many. Helping a number of students who had major personal difficulties to contend with, and who succeeded in completing their undergraduate engineering education. In my job I encounter a variety of student and staff experiences. Often students only come to me when they have significant problems that require immediate attention.

I recall meeting with one student who had a disability but didn’t realize it and with the appropriate support in place he was able to successfully complete his degree with honours standing. 

My memory is full of incidents like these where we have been able to make a difference in students’ lives through caring, listening and guiding. Such interactions are memorable and students often come back to talk about it several years later.

Mentoring staff and seeing them progress through their careers within the Faculty/University is also rewarding.

Q. Do you have a favourite U of T Engineering moment or memory?

Running and completing a marathon in support of U of T’s United Way campaign – I raised significant funds on behalf of the United Way and also achieved one of my goals of completing a marathon for a good cause.

Q. Do you have a personal mantra or favourite quote?

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”

And “Be Kind whenever possible. It is always Possible.”

Q. Tell us one thing that you want to do and haven’t accomplished yet (personally or professionally).

Personally, I look forward to seeing more of the world and spend more time volunteering. Hopefully, I will still have lots of time ahead to discover new places and experiences through travelling and volunteering. Oh, also to beat my husband in a game of tennis and improve my chef capabilities.

Q. What book are you currently reading?

For pleasure, I am reading a novel by Aravind Adiga – The White Tiger and for my course – Academic Strategy by George Keller.


Media Contact

Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist