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Jones, Kathleen Marie Frank

Published onAug 18, 2021
Jones, Kathleen Marie Frank

(September 4, 1949 - )

Quick Facts

The first female University Registrar, a position she held for 23 years, Kathleen Jones updated course registration twice: first introducing a phone registration system, then an online web portal.


Kathleen Jones served as university registrar from 1989 until 2012 and was the first female to hold the position at Iowa State. She later held posts as assistant vice president and associate vice president for Student Affairs, also at Iowa State University. She retired from the university as associate vice president for Student Affairs in 2014 and was named University Registrar Emeritus at the time of her retirement.

Kathleen Marie Frank was born September 4, 1949 in Mason City, Iowa, to Jacob and Lucille Frank. She attended Mason City schools, including Newman, a Catholic high school in Mason City. Her interest in mathematics developed at a young age and so her first career goal was to be a mathematics teacher. She started her postsecondary education at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City where she graduated with an associate arts degree in 1969. She continued her education at Iowa State University, earning a BS in mathematics in 1972; and a MS in education in 1978.

Upon graduation from Iowa State University in 1972, Kathy changed her mind about a career as a mathematics teacher, so she took a job in the Office of the Registrar in 1972 as a records staff member making $3,600 per year. She discovered she enjoyed the challenge of working with students and student records which also provided the opportunity for Kathy to use her math skills.

Her skills were apparent to her supervisors, and so in 1976, she was promoted to assistant registrar in charge of the student scheduling area, where she managed student registration, class schedule changes, and class scheduling. She worked in the student scheduling area for 20 years and during that time, Kathy provided leadership and guidance for the system to evolve with technology. The original process consisted of a computer scheduling algorithm, which produced an initial set of student schedules and “class cards” for processing class schedule changes (adds and drops), to an on-line system for making schedule changes.

In addition, Kathy had demonstrated her abilities and experience in systems analysis so, in 1976, she was named as the systems analyst for the Office of the Registrar. The systems analyst position was a new position for the time, and an unusual assignment for a female.

In 1988, she helped introduce a phone registration system called Touch Tone Registration where students could register by calling a designated phone number to enter their course reference numbers using the numerical keypad on a phone. This process was a huge system innovation that moved registration from a walk-in process to an “on-line” process. Kathy later provided leadership for web registration via the AccessPlus Class web registration solution which was implemented as a registration option in 1999. The touch-tone system continued until it was phased out in 1999.

Kathy was also very involved in the initial development of a course registration option, similar to block registration, that supported the implementation of ISU learning communities, improved degree audit management, faculty access to class lists (including student photos), automation of tuition and fee assessments, support for third party access so that students can grant AccessPlus privileges to parents or guardians, and migration of the grade reporting process from paper to online via the AccessPlus system.

In addition, her leadership included initiatives designed to supporting student success, specifically the use of data analytics to predict and support student success. She was instrumental in communicating and enforcing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) rules and providing guidance to system improvements to meet federal regulations. As software became more and more prevalent in systems and services at Iowa State, Kathy became more involved in data security both internally and in the university community.

She served on many university committees during her tenure at the university, including co-chair, University Retention Task Force; and membership on faculty committees, including the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee. She also served on the Professional and Scientific (P&S) Council. Other committee responsibilities included academic calendar committee and computation and technology committees. She was honored in 2012, as one of 12 women recognized for the “Women Impacting Iowa State” calendar at Iowa State University.

Kathy was also involved in national associations such as the American Association of Registrar and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the regional counterpart organization UMACRAO, serving as president of the organization as well as serving on numerous committees and task forces. In 2001 she received the Exemplary Service Award, the organization’s highest honor. AACRAO awarded her the Distinguished Service Award in 2008 for outstanding service to the organization. As a member, she served on AACRAO’s Governance Task Force and Public Policy Task Force. She has served as chair and member of the Federal Compliance Committee.

Additionally, Kathy has contributed to the National Student Clearinghouse Advisory Board, Association of American Universities, Registrars Board of Directors, and Big 12 Registrars and Admissions Officers.

In 2006, she was appointed to the Regent Admissions Study Team in collaboration with members from University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, and the Board of Regents Office to review freshman admission requirements to the Regent universities as directed by the Iowa Legislature.

She resides in Huxley, Iowa, and is married to Stephen Jones and has two daughters: Lynn and Lisa and six grandchildren.

Selected Sources

Office of the Registrar, Iowa State University

American Association of Registrar and Admissions Officers (AACRAO)

Upper Midwest Association of Registrar and Admissions Officers (UMACRAO)

Inside Iowa State, Oct. 4, 1996.

“Kathleen Jones reminisces 40 years at Iowa State” by Thaddeus Mast, Iowa State Daily. June 22, 2012.

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