Registrarial Staff Professional Development Day Provided Outstanding Learning Sessions and a Chance to Connect In Person—At Last!

Speaker at conference with many attendees sitting and listening.

The University Registrar’s Office (URO) hosted the 2023 Registrarial Professional Development Day on February 22, to support learning for registrarial staff across the University. With the theme Supporting Staff Success in 2023, the event offered 26 sessions covering topics including recruitment and admissions initiatives, to what’s new in student financial aid, along with software and applications used for data analytics and reporting. Now in its eighth year, this full-day event brought together 334 registrants from across all three campuses.

The day began with welcoming remarks from Dwayne Benjamin, Vice-Provost, Strategic Enrolment Management. He thanked everyone for their tremendous efforts over the pandemic, though acknowledged how much better it was to have this event back in person, helping everyone to connect and reconnect. An inspiring speech from Anishinaabe Elder Clay Shirt followed. He spoke about the Seven Grandfather Teachings (Love, Respect, Bravery, Truth, Honesty, Humility, and Wisdom), principles of character Anishinaabe are encouraged to live by. He tied each one into the events of the day and service to students at the University, offering a spiritual perspective to illuminate the day’s activities, and participants’ daily lives.  

Participants enjoyed a range of other fascinating topics, including hearing from a cross-University panel of staff who meet with students to discuss their academic challenges. Sessions also included a discussion of student health and wellness issues from a public health perspective, insights into new technologies across the University (including Power BI and the UTM Service Portal), and a cross-Canada panel of university registrars. Information sessions on international students, including legal and enrolment status issues, were also informative. 

In particular, there was a lot of awe and excitement at the packed session on AI writing assistants, which included the much-publicized ChatGPT. It was delivered by Susan McCahan, Vice Provost, Academic Programs and Vice Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education. Staff learned about how Large Language Models work—and why staff should be informed about its use. Attendees were impressed by Professor McCahan’s in-depth knowledge of the emerging technology, its possibilities for disruption, and for the opportunities it presents to students and staff. 

Participants commented in reflection that: “There were lots of synergies across teams to improve experiences across the university for staff and students.”  

Also, that it was a “much needed knowledge-sharing opportunity,” and that they appreciated the “opportunity to connect and collaborate with colleagues.”  

Overall, the PD Day provided participants the opportunity to expand their network, be inspired by new ideas, and discover solutions offered from peers and colleagues that they can apply in their work.