Longtime UAF registrar decides to retire

Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Long college admissions-day lines are a thing of the past at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and now one of the campus officials who helped eliminate the wait is stepping aside.

Registrar Ann Tremarello will leave in June, just short of 45 years working for the institution and four more attending it.

As ''a pea-green freshman, new to college and new to Alaska'' she rode the Alaska Railroad north from Anchorage in 1953 to enroll at what was then a campus of about 400 students.

She graduated from the school with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1957 and began her university career as the receptionist in admissions in August that same year. The school now enrolls nearly 9,000.

While some on registration day looked with pity at the woman at the center of the bedlam, Tremarello said there was much more to the job than long lines. For many years she helped students graduate by certifying their degrees, making sure all academic demands were met.

''It was rewarding, being able to get to know a lot of the students well and it was a very good feeling to help them work through the problems or find ways to get around some obstacle,'' she said.

Her solutions weren't always related to paperwork. One of her favorite memories involves a commencement ceremony in the late 1960s or early '70s when she gave a couple of students the cap and gown off her back.

''Two guys approached me and they were late and had no apparel. I was wearing a cap and gown but I wasn't going to be part of the ceremony,'' she said. ''We figured out that one was graduating early and the other was going to be later. So, one marched in wearing the cap and gown and instead of going to his seat he came back and gave it to the second one, and then he marched in ... It's just one of those things that sticks out in my memory because it worked out.''

Finding ways to make things a little easier and a little more organized for students has been a big part of her role.

''One can't even begin to measure the incredible influence Ann has had,'' said UAF Chancellor Marshall Lind. ''She's constantly working in the background to make things better for our students.''

She has seen the university admissions and records office go from paper records and punch cards to Internet registration. The office now is creating a system for online credit card payments.

The transformation from the traditional packed-house admissions day bustle to phone-in registration and later Web registration and the elimination of those infamous lines were among the most positive changes she has seen, she said.

The first years of registration without lines were a little unnerving, almost eerie, she said. One student who came to register and was disappointed not to see a line. ''She brought her book and was looking forward to reading in line,'' Tremarello said. ''She really got kind of indignant about it. I didn't know whether to apologize or laugh.''

The things that have kept Tremarello and her husband Joe in Fairbanks these decades will continue to keep them here, she said. Joe Tremarello is officially retired, but continues to coach high school basketball as he did off and on throughout his teaching career. However, the Tremarellos now plan to find more time to travel to Wisconsin to visit grandchildren.

It will be tough to leave the institution she loves and especially her staff, five of whom she has worked with for more than 20 years. ''I will miss them like family,'' she said.

The university saw tough times through budget cuts and early retirements of talented staff, but the future of UAF looks bright, she said.

''Mostly, I've always felt so fortunate I had a job I could love for so many years.''

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