Kara Howe assumes critical role as campus registrar

Howe said that coming to Lafayette two and a half years ago ‘felt like coming home.’ (Photo by Brandon Marin ’22)

There is a quiet change brewing in a freshly renovated office on the ground floor of Markle Hall. Kara Howe, currently the Associate Registrar for the college, will become the registrar in March, following the retirement of current registrar Frank Benginia.

Changes in the registrar’s office often go unnoticed, but their work is an integral part of the campus function.

“If everything is going well in the registrar’s office you hardly notice them, and we’ve had a very long history of really good registrars,” Provost John Meier said.

President Byerly echoed these sentiments, saying that while students may just think of the registrar as the place you go to with questions about registration, it is in fact the college’s “data center” for the most critical information the college has: information about students’ academic performances.

“Registrar may sound like one of those bureaucratic titles, but it’s quite an important position because it’s a person who heads up the office that handles essentially all of the academic record keeping for the college,” Byerly added.

Benginia is retiring after over twenty years spent in service to the Lafayette community, and Howe has worked with him as the Associate Registrar for the past two and half years. 

Howe, who grew up in Forks township, has a varied background in terms of her relationship to Lafayette and the work of a registrar.

As a child, Howe said she spent time on campus enjoying resources such as the library, before attending Gettysburg college as an undergrad. She came to Lafayette having worked many years prior as the registrar at a larger school, Northampton Community College. She said the transition to working at Lafayette “felt like coming home.”

In the future, Howe said she is looking to maintain the Office of Registrar’s role in “supporting [students] in their learning experiences.”

Alongside the retirement of Benginia, as well as that of the office’s Degree Audit Specialist, other changes can also be expected in the technology platforms through which most students interact with the Office of the Registrar.

Howe said one major project she will be working on as registrar is the new implementation of the Banner Self Service online registration tool.

“There was a huge, huge change last year from one version [of Banner Self Service] to another that completely kind of reorganized how our work looks,” Howe said. “We are in the process now of rolling out the self service piece.”

In addition to a more intuitive, navigable software, students will also soon be able to obtain a certified electronic diploma, providing a means to electronically “access and certify your degree,” according to Howe. Through a verification process supported by the diploma company Paradigm, institutions and potential employers could receive and validate diplomas with a verification code.

Howe noted that each of these changes comes with the registrar office’s constant effort to maximize its ability to perform its many duties, from predicting enrollment patterns, reviewing graduation requirements, and ultimately supporting every Lafayette student in their unique educational path.

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