To some, a college Registrar's office seems a dull repository for student records and academic course assignments. To Arlene Becella however, it has always been an exciting place. A New York City native, born and raised in the Greenwich Village stretch of West 12th Street, she came to Arizona after receiving her education and previous experience as a college Registrar in Europe and Boston. Becella holds Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Business Administration from Boston University, where she worked from 1973 to 1984.
Ironically, Becella says she fell into her current line of work because of a desire to travel abroad; this desire led her overseas where an advertisement for a Registrar's position at a university in Europe caught her eye. She took the job; however, she soon moved back the United States. She worked at Northeastern University for two years, and returned to Boston University as Registrar from 1986 to 1992.
Becella arrived in Tucson in 1993, becoming the first woman Registrar at the University of Arizona. For three years, between 1994 and 1996, she oversaw the records of the school's nearly 33,000 students. She was highly regarded and recognized by the Student Affairs Policy Committee as 'particularly insightful, creative, articulate, and compassionate.' In 1994 they wanted to go on record as saying that the university was 'very fortunate to have such a fine Registrar during those years.'
At the University of Arizona, Becella worked on many projects expanding the scope of her position as Registrar and bettering the academic system for students. She engineered the computerization of the class registration system during a difficult time period when registrars offices around the country were undergoing technological and policy changes, grappling with complex access-to-information issues. Additionally, she assisted in the planning of a five-year, ten-million dollar project to jump-start renovation in the university's classrooms.
She was highly praised by her co-workers in Arizona who described her as friendly, accessible and witty. "I have worked with lots of people... but I can't say I've ever worked with anybody any better than she was," said Mary A. Clark, an administrative assistant under Becella.
Becella and her husband, Brendan Sheridan, had expected to stay in Tucson indefinitely, but they missed the Boston area and returned over the summer of 1996, where Sheridan became Administrator of Physical Resources at Boston University. In January of 1997 Becella went on to become the new Registrar of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Department at Harvard University, which she described as 'an exciting place that provided analysis and problem solving for students, faculty, and staff.' She brought Harvard a wealth of experience and expertise both in the development of educational policies and the management of educational records. She was selected from over eighty candidates in a national search.
She summed up her experience working with university registrar systems saying, "A Registrar's office understands the academic mission of an institution and works to support that mission. Many people think that what we do is bureaucratic and specialized, but the portfolio is very broad. The office serves as the guardian of academic policies."
After fifteen years of experience as a university Registrar, seven of those years at Harvard University, Becella and her husband decided to seek greener pastures in Ireland in October of 2003, where she planned to garden, hike, and to spend more time with her husband.
Written by: Jennifer Oas