Don Hunt is no stranger to change, in fact he has embraced it his entire life. So, as Hunt takes over the role of University Registrar with an eye on moving the office forward, don't be surprised if a little bit of change is in the forecast.
"This is a young institution, everything is changing right now, there's a lot of turnover in some relatively senior positions so for me, this is the perfect opportunity to come in," says Hunt.
Most recently from Cleveland, Ohio, Hunt is from here, there and everywhere. Born in East St. Louis, Ill., he's lived in nine different U.S. states, a host of foreign countries and now Canada. Part of his wanderlust can be attributed to his eight-year career in the U.S. military but the majority is Hunt's innate desire to experience life and seek out new challenges.
"Mostly it was just exploring, getting my feet wet and enjoying life," he says. "It's one of the reasons I was not afraid to jump the border and try something new by coming to Canada."
Hunt joined the military directly out of high school, seeking a means to get to college. He began a bachelor's degree in business administration while still serving, with a future goal of becoming an accountant. It became a lesson in patience and perseverance for Hunt as he continued to try and satisfy his degree requirements while taking classes at various colleges related to where he was stationed.
"It took me 18 years to get my first degree," says Hunt, who worked in the accounting field long before he had his accreditation. "Eventually I had gotten too far in the industry to go back and do a CPA program because I would have had to start again as an intern – and that just didn't make sense."
After transitioning to the technology side of the accounting business, Hunt started working for a tech company that designed software for accounting purposes. One arm of the business was to install and then service systems in higher educational settings, and after completing a master's degree in technology, Hunt jumped at the opportunity to work in higher education. His first look at the work of a registrar was an interim appointment at Cleveland State University. Less than a year later he found a permanent home as deputy registrar at another Cleveland school, Case Western Reserve, and another career path was born.
"It was great to see what life was like on the other side of the fence," says Hunt. "I had always thought it would be nice to see a project through, rather than go in, implement a system and then move on to the next client. This time I actually had the opportunity to implement something and stay to see it through."
After four-plus years at Case Western, Hunt sought a head registrar's role and put no limits on his search parameters.
"In our industry, registrars are generally a terminal position. Because of what you need to be responsible for, the academic records of the institution, having that historical knowledge lends itself to people staying in that role," says Hunt. "Opportunities pop up and they won't be there for another 10 to 15 years so you really have to be ready to take on the opportunity wherever it presents itself. I didn't limit myself."
The U of L was one opportunity that emerged, along with positions in the UK and Australia.
"What sold me was the vision for the institution as both (Vice-President, Academic) Andy Hakin and (President) Mike Mahon laid it out," says Hunt. "The idea of where the institution wants to go as a whole, moving to a very customer-centred, destination university – all those things I could get behind."
He sees the Registrar's Office as an excellent opportunity for advancing those ideals.
"When you look at this operation, it's really in its infancy," says Hunt. "We are still manually driven where there is technology available that we already own. Let's put this technology in place and see how we can increase our self-service portfolio. Let's put in the tools to minimize the workload, not only for my staff, but also for faculty and students. Let's clear all the hoops they have to go through."
Hunt knows all too well what it's like to jump through hoops, and he's determined to use that experience to minimize that process for everyone else.
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· Hunt's highest rank in the military was corporal. He served in Germany, the U.S. and during both the Grenada and Honduras conflicts.
· A tennis enthusiast, Hunt is also looking to play squash and racquetball this winter and adds, "I'll even give curling a go, why not?"
· In addition to his bachelor's degree in business administration, he also has a master's degree in technology, both from University of Maryland University College.
· One of his first orders of business will be to reduce student traffic to the Registrar's Office. "That front counter gets way too much traffic, realistically, for today's times. Students expect self service 24/7, and so why not make it as available to them as possible?"