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PROFILE: Retiring Registrar Looks Back on Career

UC Registrar Lynn Barber looks back on his years with UC, starting as a chemistry student.

Date: 1/23/2003
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Andrew Higley
UC ingot Lynn Barber's history at the University of Cincinnati stretches far beyond his 27 years of serving as University Registrar or his total of 38 years of working at UC. As he looks ahead to his retirement on Jan. 31, he is also looking back on the many memories UC holds for him.

Lynn Barber in his office in University Pavilion

On his first day here as a UC student in 1960, he met the woman who would later become his wife, Kathy. From his new office on the fifth floor of University Pavilion, Lynn has a view of the very spot where he first saw her - on the steps in front of an entrance to Dyer Hall.

"I was taking a biology class and she was in the same class. But we didn't start dating until about three years later."

Lynn first planned to become a doctor, and he started out as a biology major, switched to chemistry, and earned his bachelor's degree in 1965. But he was struggling with the idea of a career in medicine, and says he sometimes sought advice from the faculty advisor of his fraternity. At that time, the advisor to Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity was University Registrar Garland Parker, who first came to UC in 1948 as an assistant professor of history, was appointed Registrar in 1956, and retired as executive director of the Office for Enrollment Policy and Educational Research in 1980.

"I was thinking about going for my master's degree, and I was checking with him about letters of recommendation. Then, at one time during my senior year, he asked me if I had ever considered working for higher education. He told me there was an opening for assistant registrar, so I interviewed for the job and was hired. My first job involved being in charge of transcripts, ID cards and selective service. The Vietnam War and the draft were underway, so I had to verify to local draft boards which young men were here in school," said Lynn, who started his first UC job as assistant registrar in 1965.

He remembers when classes were shut down in 1970 as a result of riots in the community stemming from the Vietnam War protests. "My office was on the first floor of McMicken and I could see the chairs fly by my window. Classes were canceled, but university offices were still open, and the Admissions officers would take the records home every night, to protect them from vandalism. They would load up the records in the trunks of their cars."

The climate of the country was changing, and Barber's personal life was changing as well, after marrying Kathy in 1967. They moved from College Hill to Clifton when twin daughters Emily and Elizabeth were born 31 years ago. Daughter Julia came along five years later.

Over the years Barber served as director of Scheduling and Data Reporting (1967-69), Assistant to the Vice Provost for Admissions and Records and Director of Data Reporting (1969-72), assistant vice provost for Admissions and Records and director of Data Reporting (1972-75), and director of Student Records (1975-76). He earned his MBA in quantitative analysis from UC in 1974. He continued the tradition of former University Registrar Garland Parker, serving as advisor to his Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity.

He recalls that in the early 1980s, his staff was still working with paper student records. If a grade needed changing, a worker had to do it by typewriter or by hand. Upgrades to the old computer system led to online records transcripts in 1985, allowing grade changes to be made by computer.

Lynn Barber at his desk in University Pavilion

In the early 1990s, Lynn says it was a well-known fact that the entire UC student records computer system needed a major overhaul and upgrade. "We patched it together for the last time. You know, you got out your bailing wire and you rigged it up, but it wasn't going to take anymore rigging."
The university explored vendor products for student services, but the offerings didn't seem to address all of the needs of UC's student information system. "So, in 1995, we decided to build our own system," says Lynn, referring to the development and implementation of UniverSIS, which started operation in 1999.

Lynn is also credited with the creation and implementation of touch-tone registration. That was the first time ever that UC students could register for classes from a remote location, by dialing in from their phones. Lynn says its availability in 1989 made UC only the second university in Ohio to provide it.

Lynn's credits are further elaborated in a university-wide correspondence about his retirement from Mitchel D. Livingston, vice president for Student Affairs and Services, and Stanley E. Henderson, associate vice president for Enrollment Management: "Other initiatives under his tenure include on-line course approval, on-line class ordering, electronic class rosters and course/advising restrictions at point of registration.

"Throughout his time at UC, Lynn has worked to enhance services to students and faculty. He is known for his commitment to the integrity of the academic records of the university, for his innovative uses of technology, and for his dedication to his staff."

Livingston said, "Without question, Lynn is the 'Dean' of registrars in the State of Ohio. His longevity certainly has its place; however, Lynn's creativity, regard by colleagues, and love for the university distinguish him both here and beyond the campus. He will be greatly missed."

"My staff is a wonderful staff, and they have been so dedicated to me and to the university," Lynn says. "But I think it's time for new leadership to take over."

A reception and program to honor Lynn Barber's service will be held from 3-6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, in the UC Alumni Center. The program will begin at 4:30 p.m. Faculty and staff are invited to the reception.






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