St. Hilaire's legacy is his personal touch
Western's longtime registrar, Joe St. Hilaire, retires this month after 30 years at WWU.
St. Hilaire oversees class registration and record keeping, makes sure academic policies are enforced and plans commencement ceremonies. It's a mostly behind-the-scenes, administrative job, but students and colleagues say St. Hilaire's personal touch has had a huge impact on students.
"He's one of the people students don't know about, but whom they owe an enormous debt," said Ron Kleinknecht, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Before registration starts and even while enrollment is underway, Kleinknecht said, St. Hilaire is lobbying deans and department chairs to make room for more students.
St. Hilaire also considers hundreds of requests from students hoping to waive requirements or get other special consideration.
"Joe has found that rare ability to balance the responsibility of guarding the integrity of institutional records while individualizing and humanizing tough circumstances," said David Brunnemer, director of Disability Resources for Students.
Oliver Anderson said he doesn't know where he'd be without St. Hilaire.
He means that literally. Anderson needed St. Hilaire's approval to take 21 credits one summer in order to graduate and be eligible for the job he has now.
Anderson was worried at first by St. Hilaire's stoicism during their meeting.
"I came to realize he was listening and digesting," Anderson said.
Anderson got the permission - and the job. He now serves as an admissions adviser at Western, specializing in multicultural outreach.
Anderson said he still thinks about the registar when he describes Western to prospective students.
"There is a way things are done," Anderson said, "but Western is a school with a personal touch."