Beyond the Call: Helping students navigate class registration

Heather Gustafson, assistant registrar

Editor’s note: Beyond the Call is a new section in Around the O Workplace that highlights the exceptional work of UO employees during COVID-19. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Heather Gustafson

Assistant Registrar for Operations, Registration and Academic History

How long have you worked at the UO?

Two years in July.

Tell us about your work:

My position covers a lot of what the registrar's office does for students. I help with everything from building the tables and stuff behind the whole term. When I say tables, I'm talking about our student information system, which is Banner, and everything that goes into that to make the data work.

We do everything else within that registration realm: petitions, helping students figure out who's the best person to talk to for billing questions, academic standing, transcripts. Think about everything around being registered for a course — that's what I do.

What does your workday look like during COVID-19?

My team works a variety of hours. I've got a really great team that is amazingly talented and knowledgeable. One person starts at 5 a.m. and the latest person works until about 5:30 p.m. So, my average day spans those hours. Right now, there's a lot of Teams and Zoom meetings. There's also some time for phone calls to students. After you've emailed so many times, it's time to just pick up the phone to call students who had questions or issues that we weren't quite able to resolve one way or the other.

I think the biggest impact on my role is just in the aspect of communication. Where [a student] could previously walk into an office and somebody would say, “Oh, yes, let me take that for you. I’ll get that to who needs to do that.” Students feel very good with that because they know they had dropped it off at the right place. They can no longer just walk into an office so there's not quite that instant sense of security anymore. That's been a lot of the challenges we’ve faced.

What is keeping you motivated during this challenging time?

One of the things about working in the registrar's office is it's always about helping the student. I want to make sure students can register, change the number of credits and switch to pass or no pass. Everything is really around that common goal of what do students need to have in place to be registered for a class. I don't like to hear people complain and I know people don't like to complain, typically. My motivation is really to make it so that neither one of us has to have that experience. That would be my motivation: Keep everyone happy.

Heather is part of the Office of the Registrar.

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