Stronger together: Wisconsin organizations create joint registrar-financial aid conference

by Clayton Smith, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor

Have you ever wondered if you could create a joint conference including both registrarial and financial aid professionals from two separate professional associations?

Scott Owczarek, University Registrar, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Triena Bodart, Manager of Financial Aid, at Moraine Park Technical College described the pathway for developing a joint conference between registrars and financial aid professionals.  Their focus was to create holistic enrollment management by integrating professional development for admissions, financial aid, student records, and registrarial staff and creating an opportunity to better understand the roles of the different offices and the integration in support of the student life-cycle.

Their first step was to create a comprehensive memorandum of understanding that set forth roles, responsibilities, expectations, fiscal obligations, program requirements, and registration process. They then created an All-Star team to set it in motion.

There were lots of details along the way, including: budgets, food, program development, maintaining a balance between traditions, vendor-land, hotels, setup and breakdown times, and promotion.

In the end, WACRAO and WASFAA created a joint conference that included 56 breakout sessions, six national speakers, and two conference charities.

Some lessons learned included: develop a contingency plan for presenters, create a cradle to grave timeline, have one IT expert, and document everything.

For a more in-depth look at their experience, check out the presentation from the AACRAO Annual Meeting in Minneapolis.