New Office Combines Services Previously Provided by the Registrar and the Center for Academic Success
When students return for classes this spring, they will notice something slightly different on the first floor of the Prothro Center.
The two offices that were previously known as the Registrar and the Center for Academic Success will now be one office called the Center for Academic Success and Records.
Kim Murphy, who previously served as assistant dean for academic success and advising, will be in charge of the new office. Her new title will be assistant dean for academic success and director of records.
While the creation of the new office was somewhat prompted by the retirement in December of registrar David Stones, Murphy said combining the two offices is something that makes sense.
“The idea behind the Prothro Building was to be a one-stop academic shop,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to get closer to that vision.”
Murphy said that while staff members in the two offices have always helped students who walked in with a question that needed to be handled by the other office, the new office will eliminate a layer of bureaucracy that didn’t need to exist.
“We’ve always known that students don’t distinguish between the Center for Academic Success and the Registrar,” Murphy said. “This will give students one place to go to take care of logistics related to completing their degree.”
Murphy said creation of the new office came about as part of a larger discussion about retention at Southwestern. “Minimal bureaucracy is good for retention as is really good student advising,” she said. “This office will make a visible statement about our commitment to retention.”
For Murphy, her new role is the perfect blend of her professional training as well as her interests. When she first came to Southwestern in March 2000, Murphy was the assistant registrar. After she returned from maternity leave in 2002, she became director of the Center for Academic Success. She has held the title of assistant dean since September 2011.
Murphy earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Arizona and had several media-related jobs immediately after she graduated. But after reflecting back on her experience as an undergraduate, Murphy said she realized she really wanted to be on a college campus as a profession. She went back to school and earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Northwestern University. Murphy worked at the University of Minnesota for two years before she relocated to Austin.
“I am confident Kim has the right set of leadership skills to take on these new responsibilities and to build on the solid foundation that has been laid by Dave Stones over the past 12 years,” said Julie Cowley, associate vice president for academic affairs.
Several other personnel shifts are coming as a result of the merger. Louisa Landry, who previously served in a support position, is taking on a new role as an academic and transition advisor. In this position, she will work with students who do not have a major or who are in special populations such as veterans or transfer students. Maria Trevino, who previously served as the faculty secretary in Fondren-Jones Science Hall, is replacing Landry as an academic support specialist.
On the registrar’s side of the office, Nadia Mahannah has moved from the Financial Aid Office to become the new assistant director of records. Suzanne Deal, who is currently the student records specialist, will be taking over the scheduling of classes and rooms. Adrienne Embree will now hold the title of associate director of records and degree completion.
Murphy said there will be many other changes coming in the new office. For example, she said one of her main priorities is to move away from the manual scheduling of classrooms to a computer-based system. She also plans to change the current method of course scheduling so that classes can be planned for more than just a semester out.
Murphy said she also plans to have her staff adjust their schedules so that the office can remain open during lunch and possibly even some evenings.
“There are a lot of impactful things we can do that don’t cost a lot of money,” she said. “I’m going to be doing a lot of listening in the first six months so that I can get feedback from faculty, students and staff about how we can take advantage of our new structure.”
Eventually, Murphy said she hopes to create a common entrance to the two offices and some sort of common space where students can use computers and find resources on how to succeed academically.