Patti Burnett of Registrar's Office loves helping wide variety of people 

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet Patti Burnett, a program agency aide in the records unit of the Registrar’s Office, who says variety, challenge and career-long learning motivate her.

Q. Where were you born and raised?
A. In Constantia, 45 minutes from here. My parents still live there.

Q. When and why did you start at SUNY Oswego?
A. I came to Oswego in 1985 as a student. I started working here in January of 2002. I had worked at The Palladium-Times for 13 years and I was just looking for a new adventure.

Q. Where have you worked on campus?
A. I was hired in the telecommunications office. I worked there for approximately 11 months. Then I took a position in the Office of Learning Services, and I was there probably 13 months. I loved both of those jobs. I met awesome people in both departments. Coming into telecom was fantastic, because even though I’m a graduate of SUNY Oswego, working on the switchboard you learn so much about the campus. When I first came to SUNY Oswego, my plan was to move up as far as I could go. I feel like SUNY Oswego really gives you the opportunity to move around if you’re interested. A position came open in the Registrar’s Office, and I’ve been there in the records office for more than 10 years. I love working in this office. I love working with a mix of students and faculty.

Q. What are your duties?
A. We do transfer credit evaluations for students who’ve taken coursework elsewhere. I run the grading programs, so I calculate academic standing and grades at the end of every semester or term. This office is basically in charge of all student records. We deal with grade changes, we process change-of-major forms. I was involved with the Degree Works (graduation tracking software) implementation. I’ve scribed many of our minors in to Degree Works—we had to write code so that Degree Works would pick up all the requirements for each major and minor. It was way over my head (laughs), so Jerrett (LeMay) and Shelly (St. John) trained me on how to do it. It was fun. That’s why I like this office—you’re never bored. There’s always something new that you’re learning. You just have to be willing. They take chances on us here, so it’s great.

Q. What did you find so challenging about helping set up Degree Works?
A. When I first came to SUNY Oswego as a student, I was a computer science major and had Rameen (Mohammadi) as my adviser. I quickly learned that math was not my forte. So I gave up computer science, the programming side of it, and graduated as an English major. So when Jerret approached me with this new Degree Works product and asked if I would be willing to learn about it, I thought back to when I first came here ... (Laughs.) We went to training in Syracuse. That was the toughest part, just learning it. But there’s a way to test if the programming you’ve written works, and when it works it’s like, “Yay!” It helped to learn Degree Works from the inside out, because when you’re involved in writing the program, you’re more able to help the students when they come in and they ask, “Why isn’t this math class fulfilling the requirement?” You know, because you’ve pretty much written why.

Q. What do you find most interesting about working in the Registrar’s Office?
A. I guess it’s the variety of people that I deal with. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what it is that someone is really asking me—sometimes, people are just asking the wrong question—and then giving them the answer they were hoping to get. I love that. The person’s so happy and it feels so good when they say, “You’re the first person today that took the time to listen.” We don’t have a lot of down time. In the summer, we have four sessions.

Q. It sounds as if you really like your colleagues.
A. There’s always some project we’re in the middle of, which I love. I wouldn’t want to sit in an office where I was looking at my watch to see when it was time to go. I couldn’t do that. We still laugh and have a good time, but I feel like at the end of the day, we did everything to help as many students as physically possible in that day. We’ve got a good staff here.

Q. And you are transitioning to a new job in the office?
A. We’re hiring a second associate registrar, and it was time for Jerret to rethink the structure of the office for the future. I’m going to be training in the registration area and I’m going to be learning everything they do out front. I genuinely love my job as it is right now. I thought, “Well, I’m losing some of the things that I like to do, but I’m open for a new challenge.” I’ll be training under Jean DuFore. I have to get my two people trained who will be working in the records room. I will continue to do some duties I have now until we find a new associate.

Q. What kinds of things do you like to do off the job?
A. I’m a pretty avid hockey fan. I’ve been a season ticketholder for a while. I used to coach T-ball when my kids were little. I play in a volleyball league pretty much year-round. I play at Cheap Seats in the summer and indoors in the winter here in Oswego. My husband, Bill, and I play tennis. We love to garden—we have a pretty big one even though we live here in the city. I absolutely love New York City. I go down about two times per year and catch at least one show each time.

Q. Do you and your husband travel?
A. We don’t travel; we stay home with the dogs, both rescues. My husband went hunting and he called me at work and said he found a puppy on the edge of a swamp near Sterling. We took it to the vet, who checked the puppy out and wanded it for a chip. We put it on Channel 9 Pet Finder, called all the dogcatchers out that way. Bill even went door to door in the area of the Renaissance Faire. No one ever came forward. We had adopted a dog from the Humane Association about six months before, so now we have two.

Q. What else can you tell us about your family?
A. We have two children. Our son Joey is a junior in high school here in Oswego. Our daughter Allison is a first-semester senior at SUNY Oswego in the MBA/broadcasting program. She is very involved with WNYO, and was the program director up until this last semester. It was fun to hear her and her news team in the morning. She actually is a temporary service employee elsewhere in the Registrar’s Office.