How Tufts Works: Service with style

Most of the times that I go to the Student Services desk in Dowling Hall, I come equipped with lists of questions. I often feel guilty for burdening the people who work there with my lack of knowledge about the inner workings of this institution.

After speaking to Joann Jack, the registrar of the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, I feel slightly less like a pest. Throughout her career in higher education, Joann has been tasked with answering questions posed by lost students and angry parents alike on a daily basis. After years of being a Tufts encyclopedia, she still loves her job.

“I can honestly say I love to go to work,” she said.

Despite her expertise and her passion for helping students, Joann began her career in a very different field: mutual fund accounting. Although she worked in the financial sector throughout and immediately after college, she had her sights set on higher education.

So Joann gravitated back to school, getting her masters at Boston University while working in their financial aid office. It was there that she was introduced to the relatively thankless work of distributing aid. But it was not until she took a short career detour into the fashion world that she realized working in higher education was her life passion. Although Joann still loves fashion, shopping and finding a good deal, college is her true calling.

Since arriving at Tufts in 1999, Joann has come into her own. She started out managing the Student Services desk, which originally sat in the front lobby of Dowling Hall. As a new hire, Joann worked with her team to field 80 percent of incoming questions.

Joann successfully juggled this massive undertaking until she was promoted to registrar a few years ago. A ticket out of dealing with frazzled students and angry parents might have been a godsend to some; however, Joann’s love of working with students motivated her to lobby her bosses to maintain the Student Services aspect of her job. Joann feels that it is essential that she and her staff maintain an awareness of the real problems that students encounter and need answered.

A problem solving enthusiast, Joann has spearheaded countless initiatives to improve processes within Dowling. In her time as registrar, she has restructured the entire department, transferred all documents online and is currently working on implementing software to facilitate the expansion of Tufts summer programs.

Joann credits a great deal of her success to the people she works with. Having the “greatest staff ever,” has made faculty governance less of a challenge for her. In this, Joann’s emphasis on leading by example has helped her gain the respect of her colleagues. Her long and successful career can be attributed to her ability to get the best out of her employees.

Joann seems to know how to make Tufts work best for students and faculty members alike. After almost two decades on the job, it’s clear that Tufts has worked quite well for her, too.