The Birth and Coming of Age of ICCAROO

A Personal Reflection
by Jim Williams

The first official meeting of the Illinois Community College Admissions and Records Officers Organization took place July 26,1973; however, some related events that preceded that date might be of historical interest to old timers and newcomers alike.

The first gathering of admissions and records officers of the new community college system in Illinois occurred in downtown Chicago, March 22,1968. I served as moderator. Our one session was held in conjunction with a meeting of the Illinois Junior College Administrators Association (IJCAA), the forerunner of the Illinois Council of Community College Administrators (ICCCA). (Incidentally, the name change came about to get rid of the dreaded word “junior” – an attempt that was not altogether successful.) Many of the usual topics were discussed, but ones that would seem unusual today dealt with Selective Service and the early release of servicemen to attend college.

Many of those present voiced the opinion that we should form our own organization, but nothing much was done about that until 1972 when I wrote a letter to our peers that began:

Do you ever have the feeling that so much is going on in our area of Admissions, Registration, and records that you would like to discuss mutual problems and share new ideas with your peers? Do you ever have the feeling that people are making decisions that affect your method of operation without consulting you such as the proposed Common Admissions application form? Did you ever look at the programs for the annual Junior College Conference and wonder why there is rarely anything in it that pertains to the important area of Admissions, Registration, and Records.

In addition to wanting us to take part in the annual meeting so that we could meet with our peers and discuss mutual concerns. I wanted key administrators to realize that admissions and records people are administrators, too, and that we should be regarded as such. I wanted us to be very visible at IJCAA meetings.

We were given a spot on the Fall, 1972 program, but we still weren’t formally organized. I called for a meeting to be held July 26, 1973, at Illinois Central College. Thirteen people attended from ten colleges, and it was a ‘lively’ meeting. It was agreed that we should meet at least twice a year and that I should serve as ‘leader’. (Leader was the term I chose to describe my role, because it was my intention to have a loose-knit, nuts and bolts organization. Nothing fancy; no constitution, ect. We had no officers, not even a secretary.)

Our organization didn’t even have a name. I remember returning from that meeting, bumping along the highway with Chuck Erickson in a College of DuPage van, trying to think of an interesting name. I set two parameters: (1) the name had to be descriptive and (2) the word ‘admissions’ had to be in the title ahead of ‘records’ or ‘registrar’, because in the name AACRAO, the word registrar comes first.

Illinois Community College Admissions and Records Officers Organization is a mouthful, but the acronym, ICCAROO, readily caught on. (Incidentally, our letterhead stationary showing a kangaroo was designed at no charge by a College of DuPage artist.)

We called our second meeting to be held in conjunction with the Fall, 1973 meeting of IACRAO in Belleville, but we weren’t listed on the program. We didn’t want to offend anyone by pulling our people away from scheduled sessions, so we met before the regular meeting started. At future meetings “Birds of a Feather” sessions became a regular part of the program and became very popular.

The ICCAROO meeting was a huge success with twenty-seven ICCAROOans present. One of the hot topics was the new variable tuition law. Rock Valley reported they were going to ask their board to approve free tuition for their staff and their families – something unheard of until then. College of DuPage reported that instead of charging senior citizens the normal $10.00 per credit hour, they were gong to charge them $1.25. The big government aid program at the time was called B.E.O.G., and Curt Denny from Lake County made a presentation about how the grants were being misused to favor athletes and out-of-district students. And the Common Admissions Application reared its ugly head again.

We voted to have our next meeting in February 1974, but it was called off because of the gas shortage!

Due to the success of our joint meeting with IACRAO and because it seemed logical to hold a joint meeting with the Illinois Association of College Admissions Counselors, I rescheduled our Spring, 1974 meeting to be held in conjunction with IACAC at Illinois Benedictine College. This time we were listed on the program and twelve ICCAROOans participated, but the idea of joint meetings with this group didn’t prove too successful. Later we held our spring meeting separately and encouraged our support staff to attend.

At our summer meeting in 1974, one year after out first meeting, we decided that ICCAROO should be more traditionally organized. I was elected president, but no other officers were chosen. Among the topics discussed were: (1) the new, ‘outrageous’ privacy of information law (the Buckley Amendment), (2) the problem of four year colleges coming on our campus under the guise of articulation but then recruiting our students prematurely, and (3) whether or not ACT had the right to sell information about students to ICCB. We also worked long and hard on drafting a constitution.

In May, 1975, we had another joint meeting with IACAC. A key topic of conversation at that meeting was the fact that an executive with the ICCB felt that community colleges should not use telephone registration because students would not receive good counseling. ICCAROO came of age in June, 1975. We elected a full slate of officers and approved a constitution. We were again granted a spot on the ICCCA fall program, but we weren’t recognized as an official member of that organization.

ICCCA was made up of Commissions, with Student Services being one of them. It was felt that admissions and records personnel were represented on the ICCCA Executive Board by the Student Services Commission, and there was no provision in the ICCCA constitution for sub-commissions. Eventually ICCCA added non-voting “divisions” to its organization, and on February 24, 1982, ICCAROO was finally recognized and given divisions status attached to the Student Services Commission. Later, after a lengthy battle fought by Chuck Erickson and myself, divisions were given the right to vote.

As ICCAROOans look ahead to exciting times in their profession, they can recall with pride their history of professional leadership, their support for each other, and the camaraderie that is a very special part of our ICCAROO tradition.

Note: Jim Williams, “founding father,” first president and first historian of ICCAROO provided this personal historical perspective at the request of the ICCAROO membership in the Spring of 1990. On behalf of all ICCAROOans, I wish to express our gratitude to Jim for his many years of dedicated service to the organization.

Bruce Bohrer
President, ICCAROO