Parks has been university registrar since 2013, and in that time has published over 90 articles in higher education journals.
Elon prides itself on creating a “constellation of mentors” for its students. One of the brightest stars in that constellation is University Registrar Rod Parks, who was awarded the Outstanding Mentor Award by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) at the organization’s annual meeting.
As the university registrar as well as the instructor for the Wilderness and Adventure Therapy course, during which he leads students to Peru in the summer and the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in the winter, Parks said he focuses on how to always get the best out of people.
“Mentoring is a step above coaching where you truly are able to empathize with where that person is at that moment and help guide them to make decisions that bring about change in a positive way,” Parks said. “It’s about asking the right questions but then allowing that person to self-explore in a way that they come up with great ideas to move forward.”
This is not the first recognition Parks has earned from the AACRAO, winning the Emerging Leader Award in 2015 two years after he joined Elon. Parks first joined the AACRAO in 2001 as he began his career in the registrar’s office at the University of Georgia. Parks spent nearly 12 years at UGA, finishing his time there as the Senior Associate Registrar before starting at Elon in January 2013.
Since coming to Elon, he has published more than 90 articles in higher education journals with a third of those co-written with students. Parks has also made sure to involve students at the numerous conferences he’s attended since being at Elon, allowing them to develop both professionally and personally.
“We’ve always done a good job of being able to involve our students in state, regional and national conferences, and publishing articles to peers across the nation and world,” Parks said.
Another role Parks holds is director of Elon Summer, where he used data-driven marketing strategies to increase participation in the program in the last five years, a significant accomplishment given the national trend of decreases in similar initiatives.
But it is Elon’s commitment as a whole to relationship-based and experiential learning that keeps Parks motivated. At Elon, mentors go out to develop deep relationships with students that spans the entirety of their Elon careers and long after they’ve graduated.
Being a beacon for so many students, Parks regularly turns back to the mentors who helped him through challenging moments in his life. Knowing that he has his support system that he can fall back on gives him the inspiration to guide students on their journeys.
“All of us turn to our mentors at some point when things get difficult or we find ourselves not having answers to some of life’s most challenges questions,” Parks said. “That’s why I’m at Elon. Because we have a great group of people that really work hard to make a difference in the lives of our students.”