registrar John Mortensen aims to alter office's reputation
for red tape and slowness
By Liz Livingston
August 8, 2006 | "The biggest charge I've been
given is to serve the students," said John Mortensen,
the new USU interim registrar of the Registrar's Office.
Working as the new registrar, Mortensen sees untapped
potential in the office staff. He hopes to work with
them in an effort to improve responsiveness to students
"This office hasn't had the best reputation for responding.
My biggest focus is quality of service and responsiveness,"
Mortensen said he sees a snowball effect occur as
phone messages build up due to the university not accepting
Visa card payments.
"They go in to pay with a Visa and when they can't,
they leave a message with the office. After somebody
responds to that call, when they get off the phone there
are two or three more messages waiting," said Mortensen.
Mortensen said the decision not to use Visa cards
does not belong to the Registrar's Office and is something
he would like to see change.
There are a lot of good ideas for change from staff
within the office he said.
"Unfortunately a lot of those ideas were never
listened to" by his predecessor, said Mortensen.
"I'd like to have the staff be more responsive and
reply in a timely way. We're doing what we can to eliminate
the lines. We're looking at getting an LCD monitor to
be out where the line is and try to anticipate why people
are standing in line," he said.
"Get out of line, go online" is a slogan
the Registrar's Office is trying to use with the students.
"Why just stand in line when you can go on a computer
and do the same thing in just a couple of minutes,"
Mortensen said he thinks some of the students don't
know they can do a lot of the same processes online
as in the office and in faster time. To help with this
he would like to have staff walking the line during
the busier times of the semester to help answer students'
questions he said.
Mortensen said he would also like to improve the staff
morale. He wants the work environment to be more inviting
he said. If the staff is in a better mood, then they
can better handle answering a commonly asked question
"Even though the people at the counter may have heard
the same question for the 1000th time that day, it's
the first time that student has asked that question,"
Mortensen also said he would like to get better acquainted
with the policies in an effort to find which ones are
outdated or need to be changed.
"My predecessor was a stickler to policy which
I guess in some ways was a good thing. But on the same
hand there sure have been a lot of exceptions that probably
should have been made. I can think of a lot of exceptions
I've made in the last little while -- and I've had people
tell me I've done the right thing. Even though a policy
is there for a reason you've got to look at the circumstance
and sometimes you need to bend policy in an individual
case by case basis," said Mortensen.
"I think the students should know that we're really
a service to them. We keep track of all their records,
employment, official transcripts. We're more than just
registration and fee payment. There's a lot of other
things, a lot of other tools that we have," he said.
Mortensen spoke about the degree audit program in
the works. "Students will be able to print out
what they have left to do to graduate," he said.
Mortensen said he recognizes there are a lot of things
which can be done to improve the office and they are
taking one thing at a time. "I believe you'll see big
changes," he said.
"Student services has the motto 'Do whatever
it takes to help the students be successful.' I just
want students to walk away thinking they were treated
with kindness and to have no reservations about going
there -- unless they can take care of it online," he