Meet four first-time Annual Meeting attendees

AACRAO’s Conner Scholarship Fund provides support for AACRAO members to attend AACRAO professional development meetings. After an application process, the Scholarship Review Committee chooses recipients based on the strength of a personal statement, demonstrated leadership characteristics, references, engagement with AACRAO, and diversity criteria including geographic region, institutional size and type, gender, race, and ethnicity. Members who have never attended an AACRAO Meeting are given preference. (Read more about the scholarship.)

This year, 13 Conner recipients will be attending the AACRAO Annual Meeting in Florida. AACRAO caught up with a few of them to learn more about the diverse experiences they bringing to the conference, and what expectations they have of their first AACRAO Annual Meeting. (Note: Meeting attendees, look for the DipJar at the AACRAO booth for an opportunity to donate to the Conner Fund!)

Nichelle Gladden is Assistant Registrar for Course Offerings and Scheduling at Thomas Jefferson University. The University, historically a medical school, completed a merger in 2017 with Philadelphia University, a four-year undergraduate fashion institution. The merger is not only improving efficiency, but also creating innovative nexuses, such as bringing a health-based perspective to building design and textiles.

Nichelle has been Assistant Registrar since June 2017, in the dual role of both course scheduling and enrollment reporting. She’s a graduate of Drexel University, where she studied Higher Education Administration, after which she worked in academic advising and program administration for about eight years.

At the Annual Meeting, Gladden will seek out the First Time Attendees gathering, sessions about the registrar’s office and FERPA, and representatives from the National Student Clearinghouse.

“I’m really looking forward to to networking and acquiring information from veterans in registrars’ offices and administrative officers,” Gladden said. “This scholarship is an awesome opportunity. I love that it encourages people who have not ever attended to do so.”

Kristin McDonald-Willey is Associate Registrar at Amarillo College in Texas. Amarillo College offers Associate Degree and Certificate programs, including many technical and health science programs that help students get ready for the workforce. Amarillo College has seen great success with its 8-week course model and is part of the national Achieving the Dream network.

McDonald-Willey has been working in higher education since 2006, first in recruitment and admissions at West Texas A&M, then in assessment at Amarillo College. Now her responsibilities in the registrar’s office include state reporting and working with faculty.

“We’re looking for ways to be more efficient and streamline our processes,” McDonald-Willey said. “The Annual Meeting will be a great place to see how other schools improve their efficiency and address common problems. I can read a manual, but seeing how people put ideas into action will be helpful. This scholarship is really a blessing.”

Sandra Nelson is Registrar at Indian River State College (IRSC), serving students in a four-county area across Florida’s Treasure Coast. IRSC is recipient of the 2017 Aspen Prize, distinguishing it as one of the top three community colleges in the nation. In addition to its commitment to student success and academic excellence, IRSC is widely recognized for its affordability. In 2015 the College was identified by the United States Department of Education as the most affordable college in Florida and the third-most affordable college in the country. IRSC operates five campuses, serving diverse populations through open door admissions. It awards A.A., A.S., A.A.S., B.S. and B.A.S. degrees, in addition to vocational and technical certifications.

Nelson has worked at IRSC since 2010, beginning as part-time staff and eventually moving into her current role as Registrar. She is an active FACRAO and SACRAO member. The 2018 AACRAO Annual Meeting will be Nelson’s first, thanks to the Conner Scholarship Fund. 

“I am really looking forward to networking with colleagues at the AACRAO conference,” Nelson says. “It looks like there are going to be really outstanding presentations, and I am looking forward to sharing the information I learn with others on my campus.”

Amy Snyder is Associate Registrar at Black Hawk College, a two-campus community college district in the Quad Cities area at the Illinois-Iowa border. The smaller campus, in Galva, IL, has about 1000 students, a nationally-recognized agriculture program, and a lot of “tractors, pick-ups, and horses,” Snyder said. The larger campus, in Moline, IL, about an hour away, has about 5000 students and is more ethnically and economically diverse.

Snyder is a doctor of chiropractic and began at Black Hawk as a part-time employee in the science department eight years ago. Now she is the interim registrar. With her science background, Snyder is very excited about the Closing General Session speaker at the conference, Alan Alda. Acclaimed actor, director, writer, science advocate, and founder of Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, Alda will discuss the communication tools that can help us to better listen to and understand each other.

Due to public institution budget constraints in Illinois, Snyder said she would not have been able to get funding for this trip without the scholarship.

“I want to thank the committee and those who fund this opportunity for making this possible. I am looking forward to grabbing as much information as I can at the Annual Meeting to help me to be a leader at Black Hawk in any position,” she said. “I want to discover better ways to serve students and meet leaders in the profession, and bring home training and inspiration to my campus.”

Register now for AACRAO 2018 in Orlando, March 25-28.

Find more information for first-time attendees!