June 22, 2024

Rita Dunston: Making the Grade

UMW Registrar Rita Dunston and her team in Lee Hall rock and roll all year long. From registration to graduation, Dunston juggles GPAs, transcripts, diplomas and data … tons and tons of data. But, by far, semester’s end – with final grades looming – is among the most hectic times on her schedule and on her mess of a desk.

She’s been called everything from the “Policy Police” to “Rita the Registrar,” but Dunston likes to think of herself more austerely – as “the conscience of the institution.” When she isn’t working on enrollment, student records and everything in between, she often finds herself answering the consummate question: So what does a registrar do, anyway? A lot! 

rita1Q: What motivated you to work in the Office of the Registrar?
A: The majority of my professional experience had been in Admissions. That’s where I discovered my love for improving the process – ensuring the accuracy of students’ academic records, employing effective and efficient processes, and monitoring academic policy. Becoming a registrar gave me that opportunity.

Q: How many students do you help each day?
A: All of them. Because of the various functions that fall under the Office of the Registrar, including protecting the integrating of students’ academic records, we help them daily. Listening to the needs and concerns of one student lets us think about how we can better serve others.

Q: What’s the most hectic part of the year for your office – registration or final grades?
A: You left out graduation! If I had to pick one, it would be final grading since it greatly impacts the other areas within the unit.

Q: How do you get through the busy-ness of registration?
A: One registration at a time. I just tell myself, “This too shall pass.”

Q: What’s your favorite part of being a registrar?
A: Our team – THEY ROCK! They make my job fun! And I get to do what I love – make a difference.

Q: What do you tell people who aren’t sure what a registrar does?
A: Most people understand the purpose of the office but have no idea what I do. Once, I introduced myself to a student on Campus Walk, who was shocked that the registrar was an actual position, not just an office. He called a few other students over to let them know I was real. I LOVED IT!


  1. Betty Bradshaw says

    Great article Rita.

  2. Sallie Washington Braxton says

    Your team ROCKS because you ROCK! Beautiful article.