Decades ago, maintaining student university records was strictly a pen-and-paper task.
Technology put an end to all that, eventually ushering in a new era where students and alumni access their records online and prospective students get acquainted with the University of Lethbridge’s digital campus before they even set foot on the grounds.
“Systems has become an integral part of the registrar’s role now,” says Susie Kennedy, who took over as the U of L’s registrar on July 1. “I still think the front door is important for some and quality access there is important as well.”
Kennedy, whose first degree is in information systems, is adept at seeing the organization as a whole and how a small change in one area affects other parts of the system.
“I have a passion for the combination of IT (information technology) and people. It’s an interesting area to both work and do research in,” she says.
Kennedy is currently working on her fourth degree, a doctorate through Aston University in England. She’s focusing her dissertation on work groups and promotion in IT. While people who work in the technology field are specialized, they are also part of a team. Kennedy wants to know what happens to someone’s identity when they are promoted out of the team.
“There has been no other work that has reviewed the changing identity through promotion, so this is really new,” she says.
Being a student herself, Kennedy brings a dual perspective to her role as registrar. Service to students is paramount, both in access and equity.
“I believe the Registrar’s Office should work from a determined institutional perspective, with student service, access, accuracy and equity as priorities. Our role is also to serve institutional needs, provide Faculties and programs with support, to ensure they can also fulfil their roles,” says Kennedy.
The Registrar’s Office and its 45-member team report to Dr. Judith Lapadat, associate vice-president (Students).
“It’s a well-rounded team in terms of expertise; we’re really fortunate here,” she says.
Kennedy was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and raised in the Ottawa Valley, the second youngest of nine children. Her mother, widowed when Kennedy was only two years old, moved to Lethbridge when Kennedy was in high school, following in the footsteps of some of her older children who had already moved west.
After high school, Kennedy attended the U of L without a clear idea of what she wanted to do. She took a couple of years off to work and then attended Lethbridge College to study business administration. She subsequently took advantage of the post-diploma agreement between the college and the U of L and continued her studies at the University.
“I thought I’d be interested in human resources but then I saw that management information systems major. It was a phenomenal program and I really enjoyed it,” she says.
She started teaching in IT at Lethbridge College and completed a master’s degree in educational technology at the University of Calgary. She later completed a master of science in management at the U of L.
In her rare spare moments, Kennedy enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and their children, cultivating her flower garden and travelling.