Brian Canavan named new registrar for MIT

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Brian Canavan has been named the new registrar for MIT. Previously senior associate registrar, he succeeds Mary Callahan, who retired this fall after an impressive 39 years of service.

Canavan will lead a dedicated staff and oversee a wide portfolio of activities, including academic records, student registration, degree audits, grades and transcripts, subject evaluation, diplomas, class scheduling, classroom spaces, academic policy enforcement, student information systems, education innovation (e.g., the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program, the d’Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education, and the Alumni Class Funds), and partnering on faculty governance.

“I have benefited from Brian’s exceptional knowledge and can-do attitude, especially as the Institute has taken on big challenges: implementing Canvas, rolling out digital diplomas, and modifying the academic calendar, to name a few, and of course, managing the complexities of remote operations during the pandemic,” says Ian A. Waitz, vice chancellor for undergraduate and graduate education and Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Following Mary Callahan, the first female and first non-MIT graduate to hold the role of registrar, will be no small task. “She has truly been an institution within the Institute,” Waitz says. Last year alone, Callahan and her team scheduled classes for over 10,000 students; managed 2,000 different subjects each term; maintained and improved over 150 classrooms; scheduled countless exams; and implemented an unusually high number of curricular innovations and emergency academic regulations, many resulting from the pandemic.

Canavan, who worked side-by-side with Callahan for the past 12 years, is eager to maintain the supportive and knowledge-centric environment she created within the office, while recognizing that a nimble approach which responds to innovation and shifting paradigms will be required to serve our community in the coming years.

“Stepping into this new role upon the conclusion of Mary’s remarkably successful leadership is both humbling and exciting at the same time. I look forward to working with my talented colleagues in evolving our services to meet the demands of a rapidly changing higher education landscape. MIT’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni expect nothing less,” says Canavan, who himself has held a variety of positions at MIT.

First joining as an academic administrator in the physics department in 2000, he became associate registrar in 2008 and took on his current role in 2015. Since then, he has focused on building and enhancing our student information systems, bolstering communications and outreach, strengthening relationships with departments, and participating in the orchestration of the Institute’s first-ever virtual Commencement.

A two-time MIT Excellence Award winner (in 2015 and 2012) and a recipient of an Infinite Mile award, Canavan frequently shares his expertise by participating on MIT committees, from student systems to discipline, and presenting at conferences on topics ranging from digital documentation to using blockchain to online course management.

Prior to MIT, he held a variety of academic positions, including academic affairs coordinator at the Wentworth Institute of Technology and residential life related roles at Union College, Villanova University, and the University of Vermont. He earned his BS degree in mathematics from Saint Michael’s College and his Master of Education degree at the University of Vermont.

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