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Registrar Anna van der Burg stands outside the registrar's windows in North College where she helps students answer questions about class enrollment.
 
Posted 04.15.05

Registrar Makes Enrollment Process Easier for Students, Faculty

Not long ago, all Wesleyan students returning to campus each semester had to participate in Enrollment Day. This meant hours of waiting in lengthy lines snaking through the lobby of the Exley Science Center. If they wanted to drop or add a class, students would have to chase down professors and their advisor to sign the drop/add slip. Students would carry this slip over to the registrar’s office, again waiting in long lines for a staff member to type the course selections into the computer system.

That’s how it was five years ago.

Now students can enroll in the university and drop or add classes via the Internet, 24 hours a day thanks in part to Anna van der Burg and the Office of the Registrar.

“By automating these processes, we are saving the students, staff and faculty time and money, and since it’s all done on computers, we might be saving some trees too,” Registrar van der Burg says. “What used to be done on paper and in person, and had the chance for errors, can now be done quickly and accurately and any time of the day.”

van der Burg, who came to Wesleyan in 2000, has facilitated meetings with her staff, academic deans, class deans, the staff in Information Technology Services and other members of the Wesleyan community to implement these changes. In some cases she’s held open forums to come up with final solutions for projects.

Students favor the online technologies in lieu of standing in long lines.

“We’re moving into an age where students expect to do things online,” van der Burg says. “They’ve been dealing with technology practically since their infancy.”

The drop/add system allow students and faculty to view class enrollments online in real-time. That way, students who want to add a class can see if a particular class is still open. Meanwhile, faculty can see how their classes are filling up.

“Students and faculty operate at different times of the day, so this system is convenient to them both,” she says. “This saves students a lot of time and running around tracking down their professors for signatures.”

So far, the new system has been “incredibly successful,” says Karen Anderson, assistant dean of the Graduate Liberal Studies Program.

"Anna has been very instrumental in developing and streamlining these new systems, and the new technologies are very effective,” Anderson says. “She has a vision, and she is always working toward the next innovation.

Technology changes are only one aspect of van der Burg’s job. The Office of the Registrar is also the official recording agency for the University and therefore is the keeper of historical information such as class lists, transcripts, other student and enrollment data. In addition, the Honors Program is coordinated by the office, located on the first floor of North College.

With her staff of 10, van der Burg also oversees the publication of the annual University Course Catalog and the administrative applications in the student and faculty portfolios. The catalog includes academic regulations, degree requirements, academic standing, general regulations and advanced degrees in addition to major requirements and course offerings and descriptions.

Dealing with legal issues, such as keeping students record confidential, are also on her slate. Anderson says she’ll call van der Burg with any questions relating to student records or policies.

“When we ever have a question about any issues regarding student records, we just ask Anna, and she can rattle off the answer immediately,” she says. “She is very attentive to university policies. She knows them like the back of her hand.”

Much of her day is spent answering questions via e-mail, phone or in person.  She also meets with class deans on a weekly basis.

“Sometimes I have to interact with some very upset students,” she says. “Some of them don’t understand that I don’t have the power to put someone in a class, but by the time they leave my office, usually I have helped them to understand this and I direct them to their class dean or advisor who can help work out an alternative.”

Oh, and she also doesn’t have the power to alter transcripts.

“I have been asked that before,” she says, smiling.

van der Burg, a native of Oostvoorne, The Netherlands, first came to America at the age of 6 weeks old. Her father took up a job with Uniroyal in Patterson, N.J. and later Detroit, Mich. When Anna was 10, the family moved back to Europe and Anna attended schools in Germany and Luxemburg before graduating high school back in her native country. She returned to the America for college, earning her bachelor’s of art in art history from the College of Wooster in Ohio. There, she met her husband-to-be, Andrew Saslow, and moved to Connecticut where his family lived.

“And I’ve been here ever since,” she says.

van der Burg started at Yale University in the library system. That got her working on computers, and later she started programming. This skill led her onwards into the Registrar’s Office, in total she spent 22 years at Yale. Then in 2000, she got a call from her friend, Steve Machuga, director of administrative systems in Information Technology Services. 

“He told me Wesleyan had a registrar’s position open, but I was already very happy doing what I was doing at Yale,” van der Burg says.  “Then I got this call from the associate provost, Billy Weitzer, and, well, by the time of interview, I was already convinced that Wesleyan would be a good move, and it sure has been.”

van der Burg lives in Cheshire with her husband and boys Nate, 17, and Jake, 15. The boys are members of the Cheshire Football team so the family spends ample time at games.  In her spare time, she enjoys working out at the Freeman Athletic Center, reading, listening to “all kinds” of music, gardening, playing with her cat and dog, and rooting for the New York Giants. And bashfully, van der Burg admits that she’s a “huge fan” of pop-TV show “American Idol.”

“I think it’s going to be Bo, the rocker, who wins this season,” she predicts.

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor