In University Registrar Robert Doloos’ 35 years at LSU, students have gone from standing in line for hours to registering online for classes in minutes. He will retire in May.
Doolos came to LSU from the University of Central Arkansas in 1975, pursuing a master’s degree in history. After landing a job as an academic counselor, he continued rising through the academic ranks. He took the position of registrar in 1991 after being deployed to Saudi Arabia with a reserve unit as a part of Operation Desert Storm.
“The registrar at the time took a job at the University of Florida and I was tapped to be the interim,” Doloos said.
He was presented with an advanced billing system that replaced a cumbersome and outdated registration process in which students stood in line with scanner-read forms, traveling from table to table.
“After that, students started receiving a bill by mail,” he said. “Soon after, they could pay by phone and now students pay entirely online. The biggest change I have seen at LSU is technology.”
Brian Nichols, head of LSU Information Technology Services, said Doolos’ involvement played an important role in advancing LSU’s technological systems.
“Over the years, ITS has partnered with the university registrar on the development and implementation of every university system that impacts students or touches student data,” Nichols said, adding he and Doolos did away with Social Security numbers for student identification and replaced them with a specific ID number.
Online course wait-listing is an example of the technological transition. Prior to online wait-lists, individual departments kept paper lists of students waiting to enter a course. Doolos said the process of getting into a class was time consuming and difficult. Students often scrambled to figure out where wait-lists were located during the first days of each semester.
Doolos said the technological transition eased the workflow.
When Doolos came to LSU as a graduate student in 1975, the student enrollment was 24,791. Under Doolos’ watch, enrollment reached a peak in the fall of 2002 with a total of 31,582 students. It has since fallen. The current semester’s enrollment is 27,365.
Hurricane Katrina negatively affected enrollment. In the fall of 2005, LSU enrolled 30,564 students, excluding visiting students, but dropped nearly 5 percent the following year, and about 1 percent each year thereafter. In spite of the recent decline, the overall increase in student enrollment since he began working at LSU makes old ways of scheduling impossible, Doolos said.
“Imagine all the students we have today trying to stand around in the field house to schedule classes.”
The school is advertising for a new registrar, but because of LSU’s technological advances an external candidate may have a difficult time transitioning, Doolos said.
“We have built our portals and systems ourselves, which make them unique. The new registrar will have to learn those systems and how they work” which will be more difficult for somebody from the outside, he said.
He also questioned what the school’s 2015 Initiative, which aims to unite the various schools in the LSU system, means for the University Registrar’s Office.
“How will (one LSU) impact the work in our office?” he asked. “Are we going to have to keep all the records in one place? Will we all have to use the same systems? It is undoubtedly going to be a big transition.”