SFU’s new registrar foresees meeting enrolment goals
Mark Walker, Simon Fraser University’s new registrar and executive director of student enrolment, is used to setting high goals and achieving them.
Having spent the last 10 years of his university administration career at the University of Waterloo, a nationally top rated, comprehensive university, Walker was intent on making his next move to no less of a ranked university. Hence his next stop was SFU.
Previously Waterloo’s associate registrar, records and systems, Walker was born in St. Catharines, Ontario and holds three degrees from Waterloo.
“SFU consistently attracts high calibre students as evidenced by its admission standards and the success of its alumni,” notes Walker.
“Extensive consultation, on and off campus, has resulted in the approval of a number of strategic documents that address enrolment targets and the mix of domestic and international students at SFU. As registrar, I’ll be working with our whole team in student services to ensure these strategic objectives become attainable plans.
“I believe we are seeing students and their parents look at higher education in very practical terms as a way to prepare for a rewarding career, to develop a set of skills that allows them to adapt to an evolving workplace, and to be ready for new and different world experiences,” says Walker.
“SFU’s strategic plan is aligned with these needs in mind. Experiential learning, through classes, co-op placements, internships and volunteer experiences, both in Canada and abroad, will increase as defining features at SFU.”
A researcher turned university instructor and then career administrator, Walker was a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Guelph.
He later worked as a contracted researcher in the university’s Department of Crop Sciences before being hired by his alma mater as the lab manager in the Organic Geochemistry Lab. He then became a biology department instructor before moving into the Registrar’s Office.
Given his varied background, he has a multi-faceted perspective on how to achieve his key objectives at SFU — maintaining the university’s superior student experience and attaining future enrolment goals.
“We must continue to strive to provide services and transactional activities that support students’ paths to academic success, through timely delivery on any device in a user-friendly way.
“Sluggish economic growth, increasing focus on deficit reduction and little anticipated growth in the 18-to-24-year-old prospective student population challenge universities’ recruitment goals nationally. But I’m confident that SFU is well positioned to meet its enrolment targets because it uses a disciplined and data-defined approach in setting domestic and international student targets.”
It’s been a whirlwind year for Walker and his wife Teresa. They’ve celebrated the marriages of their sons Matthew and Patrick, and moved to Port Moody, B.C.
Now SFU’s new registrar is set to embrace new work challenges, drawing on his varied skills to help him meet the university’s student services goals.
Backgrounder on Mark Walker, SFU
In 2004, Mark Walker became the associate registrar, records and systems at the University of Waterloo. Walker served three terms on the Board of Governors and on the presidential nominating committee (2008), three times as member of the vice-president, academic & provost nominating committee (2000-01, 2009, 2013) and represented alumni on the board of directors for the Waterloo Science Endowment Fund (WatSEF). Walker also served as the Canadian representative on the board of directors for the Higher Education User Group (HEUG).
Accomplishments at University of Waterloo, Registrar’s Office:
- Re-vamped the Customer Service Front counter with the introduction of a triage desk to help ensure visitors have all necessary materials and are served as quickly as possible utilizing a one-stop approach. Line-ups disappeared and client satisfaction went up.
- Created a customized online system for mark submissions management that is now used to collect roughly 100,000—120,000 marks a term.
- Installed a student demand-based class scheduling system that takes into account the needs of students and faculty in the scheduling of courses, classrooms and subsequent enrolment of all students into their chosen courses.
Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries.
Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.