Six Questions for Christy Salinas


Christy Lee Salinas, Caltech’s new registrar, joined the Institute on December 1, 2017. Salinas, who grew up in Texas, has spent much of her career at colleges in Massachusetts, where she has managed student academic records, class scheduling, and degree auditing, among other tasks. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of North Texas and is completing a master's degree at Boston University in educational leadership and policy studies, with a concentration in higher education administration.

What is the scope of your job?
The Office of the Registrar oversees all of registration and grading, makes sure students are meeting all of their degree requirements, awards their degrees, works with the academic departments to make sure that we're in compliance, and supports anything that they want to initiate. Financial aid, athletics, and other departments are all dependent on our data and what we're doing. We're a huge resource to so many offices.

What are your goals as registrar?
My goals are to learn about “the Caltech way”: to understand the culture, because the needs are unique here, and then to see if there's a way that I can use my experience and skill set to improve things and prepare this school for the future. What will the technology needs be in the industry? Once we have a handle on that, we need to build up the infrastructure to meet those needs.

What attracted you to Caltech?
I think I was most attracted to the community and the attention that is given to the student experience, which is the part that I enjoy the most. I was also attracted to being at a school that would be small enough that I could get to know everyone, all the staff, every student, and help them throughout their journey to achieve their goals. These are people who are going to change the world. The students here are an inspiration because of how much they accomplish while they’re here.

What excites you about higher education?
I love working with people and problem solving, and seeing how a bunch of different offices can work together to make something larger happen. I feel like I'm a part of something bigger.

Why do you enjoy working with students?
I like seeing people who are working on their own goals and self-improvement. I was a student who had times when I was confused and didn't know what to do, and could have used some more guidance. I like to think of that when I am helping students. I focus on their experience and help them accomplish their goals. I want to create an environment for them where some small administrative thing doesn’t interfere with their education.

What do you like about California?
I love the ocean. I love the laid-back lifestyle. And Caltech is a beautiful campus. When I visited it, it was just gorgeous, and I loved the ability to walk around and not have to walk through snow! That's pretty nice—you don't have to bundle up. California also has a lot of energy to it; it seems like people are proactive. It's a very unique place, and I'm drawn to that. I like being in a place that has a lot of activity.

Spring 2018, SoCaltechJon Nalick