Ontario University Registrars’ Association Honours U of T Staff for their Work

Ontario University Registrars’ Association Honours U of T Staff for their Work

The Ontario University Registrars’ Association (OURA) has recognized the outstanding work of University of Toronto staff members with three 2023 awards for excellence.

UTM Registrar Team – OURA Innovation Award

The UTM Registrar Team, including Lorretta Neebar, Vladimir Soloviev, César Mejia, Michelle Kraus, Sandra Ngan, Lynne Hsueh, Bridgette Arrindell, Olha Fihol, Nia McCash, Lovedeep Grewal, and Johnny Chung, won the OURA Innovation Award for the UTM AskRegistrar Project. 

This award recognizes achievements in improving quality and reducing costs of academic administration in a range of areas, including admissions, systems, and registration (among others). 

AskRegistrar was implemented during the pandemic to streamline workflow, modernize service, and improve the student experience. The system, using the ServiceNow platform, supports more than 15, 600 students on campus. Live statistical reports provide accurate information about student requests and needs, and the system assigns tickets to categories and staff to connect students to the staff member best equipped to respond.  

Since its launch in 2020, more than 115,400 tickets have been assigned through the system; 44,892 of them in the last year. Response time has been reduced from 3-14 days to 1-3 business days. Cost savings to the University are estimated at $775K per year, at least, in terms of additional staff that would be required to meet student needs as quickly. 

From left to right: Lynne Hsueh, Olha Fihol, and Lorretta Neebar, members of the UTM AskRegistrar team, with the Chair of OURA Serge Demers. Photo by: Andrea McGee.
Merike Remmel with the Chair of OURA Serge Demers
Merike Remmel receiving her award from Serge Demers, Chair of OURA. Photo by: Andrea McGee.

Merike Remmel – OURA Award of Excellence

The OURA Award of Excellence is given to employees in the fields of registration, admissions, recruitment and liaison, graduate studies, records and systems, and scholarships and awards within an institution. 

This year Merike Remmel, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, received the award. Merike has served as an ambassador for the University as a delegate, board member, advisor, or regular panelist for several organizations, including the Ontario University Application Center (OUAC), the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), the University Relations Committee and Duolingo. 

She recently led the U of T community transition from paper-based to electronic offers of admission. She introduced service-level agreements to help maximize service for more than 80,000 first-entry applicants each year. Merike was instrumental in developing an applicant waitlist as well. 

Merike is a U of T alum and received the 2018 U of T Jill Matus Award for Excellence in Student Services. Starting as a Liaison Officer for undergraduate programs in 1988, Merike began as a liaison officer for undergraduate programs in 1988, became Manager of Admission Services in 1994, then Manager Registrarial Services in 1998.  She became Assistant University Registrar and then Director of Undergraduate Admissions in 2006.   

Don MacMillan – OURA Award of Achievement

The OURA Award of Achievement honours long-standing (10+ year) members who have made significant contributions by participating through active membership on the executive, standing committees and workshops, and actively enhancing and developing academic administration within the Ontario university system. 

Don MacMillan, former Registrar, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering retired in December 2022, following 24 years at U of T. He began his career here as the Campus Registrar and Director of Enrolment for UTSC from 1998 to 2009, then served as the Faculty Registrar at OISE from 2009 to 2013, the Director of Student Services in the School of Graduate Studies from 2013 to 2015, and most recently as the Faculty Registrar, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering from 2015 to December 2022.  

During his time here, he co-founded the innovative UTSC Green Path program, bringing hundreds of excellent students from China to UTSC. Don also advocated for the highest possible level of service to students using technology, staff development, and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy. As a member of OURA, Don was involved in supporting the Liaison community’s dialogue conference at UTSC.  As Chair of the Initial OISE Teacher Education Admission Committee, Don advocated strongly to eliminate barriers for students not well represented in the teaching ranks. 

“Congratulations to Merike, Don and the UTM ‘AskRegistrar’ team. It’s an honour to have so many of our U of T colleagues recognized by OURA,” says Angelique Saweczko, U of T’s University Registrar. “This recognition is a testament to the amazing work and exceptional staff at the University of Toronto.” 

Don MacMillan with Serge Demers, Chair of OURA. Photo by: Andrea McGee.