Q&A With Deputy University Registrar Monica Avitsur

Deputy University Registrar Monica Avitsur first joined Columbia Center for Student Advising (CSA) at Columbia in 2007 as a Program Coordinator, where she was promoted to Associate Director in 2010, and then to Director of the CSA, before she joined the Office of the Registrar in November 2013.

In her various roles, Monica has facilitated the integration of five separate advising units into one organization and was instrumental in coordinating systems implementations, processes, policies and procedures. She brings to her new position broad and deep professional experience in the areas of records and registration, student affairs and academic advising.

Spotlight spoke to Monica about her connection with the Columbia community, how she hopes to build on the Office of the Registrar’s strategic focus as she enters her new role and what we can expect from the department in the coming months.

Spotlight: How have you been enjoying the first few weeks as Deputy University Registrar?

Monica: I have really enjoyed my first few weeks in the Registrar's Office. Everyone is incredibly talented and eager to provide quality services to faculty and students so they can focus on what is really important: teaching and learning. Even though the Office of the Registrar has a long and established history at Columbia, now that I am here, I see how much it is guided by new work, which challenges established ways of doing business.

Spotlight: Tell me a little more about your role. What is a typical business day like for you?

Monica: A majority of our work is project based, so there are quite a few meetings each week with our staff, CUIT, Communications and other strategic partners across campus. We also spend time talking to faculty, students and administrators across campus about new tools, seeking input and answering questions. I am also spending time with each member of our office to learn more about our operations and the new tools on which we are currently working.

In my former role as the Director of the Center for Student Advising, I was extremely active in both assessment and the use of technology to meet organizational goals, and was responsible for merging budgetary, physical and electronic operations. I am especially looking forward to working on projects relating to technical tools and applications for faculty, students and staff as well as managing the daily operations of the Office of the University Registrar.

Spotlight: Are there any upcoming initiatives that we can look forward to from the Office of the Registrar or specific issues that you look forward to tackling now that you’re here?

Monica: I have started this job during a particularly exciting time at the University, especially within Student and Administrative Services. We are incorporating new technologies and services at a very fast pace. Our hope is that these new tools will allow faculty and students to spend less time on these tasks while maintaining the integrity of the Columbia degree.

The upcoming Electronic Add/Drop initiative is a continuation of the Wish List/Wait List tool that was launched in the fall. We are excited about adding new functionality to SSOL for students. Particularly appealing to faculty is the launch of the Change of Grade tool for Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and General Studies. The tool will greatly reduce the time it takes to process a grade change, with equal benefit to students and faculty.  

Spotlight: You’ve been at Columbia since 2007. What do you like most about working at the University?

Monica: I am very passionate about teamwork, collaboration and open communication. I feel extremely lucky to have found my passions while working with some of the best and brightest minds in higher education.

On a more personal level, because I live close to campus, I am able to walk to and from work each day. Over the past six years the neighborhood has been transformed, and I enjoy seeing those changes day-by-day. When I travel home to Pensacola, Florida, people often ask me how I manage living in the "Big City." In actuality, I see the same people in the morning on my walk to work and the same people at the grocery store – so it feels like any other neighborhood across the country might feel. By extension, the Columbia campus feels like home.

Spotlight: What do you do when you’re not being a Deputy University Registrar?

Monica: My husband and I enjoy playing tourists in the city with our children, ages nine and six. Watching them grow up in the city is awe-inspiring because every day they are exposed to other cultures. Where else can you walk two blocks and hear five languages?

Interview by Tracy Parker
Portrait by Eleanor Templeton

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Available Date(s): 
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 to Thursday, November 20, 2014