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RG 27 - Office of the Registrar
Administrative History

The first reference to an Oberlin College Registrar appears in the Catalog of the Officers and Students of Oberlin College, 1887/88. Students wishing general information regarding degrees and diplomas are invited to address the College Registrar, Albert Allen Wright (1846-1905), Professor of Geology and Natural History. Prior to the appointment of faculty registrars, prospective students wrote to the Secretary of the College. At the Graduate School of Theology, students made application to the Junior or Senior Dean; from 1944 until 1966, Gertrude Fisher Jacob (d. 1989) served as the seminary's Secretary and Recorder and then as its Registrar.

In 1905, Assistant Registrar Flora Isabel Wolcott (1864-1942, L.B. 1884) was named the first full-time Registrar of the college. Since 1891, she had provided support to a series of six faculty registrars who succeeded each other rapidly within sixteen years. After Albert Allen Wright (1889-90), faculty registrars included Henry Churchill King (1890-93), Fred Eugene Leonard (1893-1900), Frederick Orville Grover (1900-01), Lyman Bronson Hall (1901-03), and Charles H.A. Wager (1903-05).

During Flora Wolcott's tenure (1905-29), the position of Registrar continued to be that of recorder and records custodian. Accuracy and attention to endless detail were necessary, as the use of forms had not yet become routine. Student grades and information relating to student academic performance were entered by hand into bound books. Such information was supplied by faculty members and those committees concerned to uphold academic standards, including the Committee on Additional Work and Substitutions and the Committee on Failure in Scholarship.

Donald Melbourne Love (1893-1974, A.B. 1916) succeeded Flora Wolcott as Registrar, serving from 1929 to 1935. Love introduced a new and revolutionary system of grading which went into effect in academic year 1931/32. Under the plan, passing work was to be evaluated on a relative rather than absolute basis. Each student was given his class rank in terms of a number from 85 to 15, with the letter grades F and E retained to designate failure or the need for reexamination.

Implementation of the new grading system was one of several changes which occurred in the Registrar's Office while Donald M. Love served as Secretary of the College. Love's successor as Registrar was Edith Stanley (1892-1955). Stanley was hired to modernize an obsolete office by establishing a vertical file system of records. This required typing hundreds of hand-written records onto filing cards. In addition to her clerical duties, Stanley developed strong collegial relationships which had the effect of making the Registrar a visible presence on campus.

Stanley's twenty-year service to Oberlin was interrupted by her death in 1955. Then followed an eight-year period of rapid changeover in personnel. John C. Kennedy (b. 1904, A.B. 1927), Registrar at the Conservatory of Music from 1939 to 1942 and from 1952 to 1959, became Acting Registrar in 1955 and was appointed Registrar in 1956. Kennedy was the first individual to hold the dual positions of college and conservatory registrar. Following his departure in 1959, the registrar of the college also served the Conservatory of Music. George H. Langeler (b. 1927), Acting Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, replaced Kennedy on a two-year appointment. In 1963, the Office of Admissions changed its name to the Office of Admissions and Academic Records, thus bringing the recording function under the titular supervision of William A. Richardson (1962/63) and then of Robert Lodington Jackson (d. 1989), Director of Admissions since 1949.

In 1969, the office of the Registrar emerged from its six-year placement under the aegis of the Office of Admissions and Academic Records. The office moved into its own space in Peters Hall, leaving the Admissions Office in the Administration Building. Charles Wantman (b. 1942, A.B. 1963) became Registrar. In collaboration with Provost John W. Kneller (b. 1916), Wantman outlined new functions for the Registrar's Office. These included the streamlining of office procedure through the addition of computers and the establishment of an on-line data bank to enhance institutional research at Oberlin. The first terminals arrived in 1978.

The changeover to a fully automated system required several years to complete and was set back by frequent changes in personnel. Several registrars served brief terms, creating discontinuity in the office. Following Wantman's resignation in 1971, Assistant Professor of Physics David C. Montgomery (b. 1938) was named Registrar and Assistant Provost. During his two-year tenure, Montgomery developed new automated collection and retrieval systems. On Montgomery's promotion to Director of Institutional Research and Planning in 1973, Robert Jackson assumed the position of Registrar. Jackson presided over the continuing transfer of the card-based registration and record-keeping system to a computer-based system. He brought years of experience in the Admissions Office to his registrar duties and provided needed continuity in the office

On Jackson's retirement in 1981, Douglass S. Gardner was appointed Registrar. He served until 1987, when Assistant Registrar Lori Gumpf was named Acting Registrar by President S. Frederick Starr; she was promoted to Registrar in 1988. Still to be completed is an upgraded student records computing system; its operation is foreseen for the fall of 1992.

In 2001, Registrar Lori Grumpf moved to the Department of Human Resources. Elizabeth S. Clerkin was appointed Registrar.

Registrars of Oberlin College Registrars of Conservatory of Music
1889-1890 Albert Allen Wright 1916-1938 Mabel D. Brown
1890-1893 Henry Churchill King 1939-1942 John C. Kennedy
1893-1900 Fred Eugene Leonard 1942-1944 Katherine M. Eide
1900-1901 Frederick Orville Grover 1952-1959 John C. Kennedy
1901-1903 Lyman Bronson Grover    
1903-1905 Charles Henry A. Wager    
1905-1929 Flora Isabel Wolcott    
1929-1935 Donald Melbourne Love Registrars of Grad. School of Theology
1935-1955 Edith Stanley 1956-1966 Gertrude Fisher Jacob
1955-1959 John Cecil Kennedy    
1959-1961 George H. Langeler    
1961-1963 William A. Richardson    
1963-1969 Robert Lodington Jackson    
1969-1971 Charles Wantman    
1971-1973 David C. Montgomery    
1973-1981 Robert Lodington Jackson    
1981-1987 Douglass S. Gardner    
1987-2001 Lori Gumpf    
2001- Elizabeth S. Clerkin    
Sources Consulted
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