When Kenneth Iuso, the executive university registrar at Rutgers, was offered his first job at Rutgers, Lyndon Johnson was president, the Beatles had just released their debut American album, and a lanky kid named Bill Bradley was poised to win a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Olympic basketball team. It was 1964, and Iuso RC’61, GSE’73, who had recently completed three years with the Air Force, figured he’d avail himself of Rutgers’ placement services. He was thinking about a career in international banking, but  the director of placement sized him up and decided he might be a good fit for a job that had just opened up in the college’s admissions office. Iuso got the job and happily gave up his banking plans. More than 50 years later, he’s still happy. “I was involved in a lot of activities as an undergrad, and I was very close to Rutgers as a student,” he says. “I still am.” 

After six years in the admissions office, Iuso was offered a job at the Office of Institutional Studies, a forerunner of today’s Office of Institutional Research and Academic Planning. He was tasked with compiling statistics on everything from credit hours to students’ home states, and it might well have been an engaging job—except that Iuso, a genial guy by anybody’s standards, was the sole employee. “It was a very lonely job,” he says, “which is one of the reasons I left

In 1972, according to Iuso, he became registrar for Rutgers College; two years later, he was made registrar for all the colleges at Rutgers University in New Brunswick; in 1977, he was promoted to university registrar—a position he’s held ever since. In his half century-plus at Rutgers, he’s witnessed some striking changes—in the registrar’s office and at the university.

Registering for classes at Rutgers University–New Brunswick 1974


Registering for classes at Rutgers University–New Brunswick used to be a time-consuming chore. Kenneth Iuso, the executive university registrar at Rutgers, helped streamline the process.

courtesy of Rutgers University Archives and Special Collections

When Iuso took over as university registrar, each of the school’s four liberal arts colleges in New Brunswick—Rutgers College, Livingston College, Douglass College, and University College—had its own student service offices, including admissions, financial aid, and registrar. Registration for classes was strictly a hands-on affair, to put it mildly. Students reported in person to one of several offices—and had to endure long waits  and longer lines.

“Registration opened at 8:30 on Monday morning, and students started lining up Sunday night; some of them even brought their mattresses with them,” Iuso recalls. The waiting didn’t end when a student reached the head of the line. Every class was physically represented by a cubbyhole in the registrar’s office, and every seat in that class had a cardboard “tab card.” For each class that was requested by a student, personnel would scurry to the cubbyhole and pull a tab card. When there were no cards left, the class was filled. The back-and-forth could take up to two hours for each student. 

But the true game-changer, Iuso says, was technology. In 1990, Francis Lawrence had just assumed the  university’s presidency and was walking down College Avenue toward the dining hall when he noticed long lines snaking out of the College Avenue Gymnasium. Perplexed, he asked what was going on. Students, he learned, were lining up to add or drop courses, a process dependent on a dozen or so computers located in the gym. Lawrence had been provost at Tulane University, which had already instituted registration by touch-tone phone, a great leap forward in those pre-internet days. Rutgers soon followed suit.

“It was a huge improvement over the manual system,” says Iuso, “but it could only handle 125 calls at a time. So, if we had 5,000 students trying to register, it led to a lot of busy signals and frustration.”

That all changed with the advent of online registration in 2000. “During the last registration session, we were doing something like 5,000 registrations in five to 10 minutes,” Iuso says. Today, about half of his job is working with other administrative offices, including the Office of Information Technology, to develop new systems—an aspect of the job that he relishes. 

While he was presiding over vast changes in his own office, Iuso was also present for a major transformation in the university as a whole. The most obvious change was in size. “When I graduated back in 1961, there were 2,601 graduates,” he says. “For the academic year of 2014–2015, there were 16,465.” But in Iuso’s mind, the most impressive change came in 1989, with Rutgers’ admission into the Association of American Universities, an organization comprising the country’s leading public and private institutions of higher learning. “That was a huge academic accomplishment, and it brought us to the top of most research universities in the country.”

Through his office window, Iuso has had a front-row seat to the expansion of the Busch Campus at Rutgers–New Brunswick, from, as he recalls, a single building—today the Waksman Institute of Microbiology—to a large and flourishing academic center that continues to grow. When he first walked into the admissions office in 1964, Iuso couldn’t have imagined those developments—or the fact that he’d be there to witness them.  As registrar, he’s also borne witness to several decades of honorary doctorate recipients, personally hooding during commencement proceedings a range of luminaries whom he never thought he’d meet, including Thomas Kean, Joan Baez, Stevie Wonder, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and that Olympic medalist and eventual U.S. senator, Bill Bradley. 

International banking’s loss has clearly been Rutgers’ gain. Courtney McAnuff, the vice president for enrollment management at Rutgers who has worked with Iuso for the past nine years, notes that “he has immense knowledge of Rutgers academics and the registration systems, and he believes that the test of his effectiveness is the positive difference he makes in the life of each student.” Iuso, who calls himself “a pretty low-profile person,” would probably find the accolade a little embarrassing, and his own summary of the past 50-plus years is somewhat more low key.

“I certainly have enjoyed myself,”  he says. •