Wendy Pearson has always loved puzzles. Whether solving a crossword, tracing her family’s genealogy, or helping a student make sure they’re on track to graduate, Pearson loves taking a complex problem and making sure all the pieces fit just right.
For a quarter of a century, she’s been using that passion and skill to help W&M School of Education students as the school’s registrar.
“Wendy’s dedication to the School of Education can be seen through her work with faculty and students—she goes above and beyond to address needs and concerns,” says Associate Dean for Academic Programs Leslie Grant. “She joins in the celebration of our students’ successes and problem solves in times of difficulty. We’re lucky to have such a committed and caring colleague.”
Pearson’s career at William & Mary spans 37 years in all. She began working in the central registrar’s office in 1980 and worked her way up through positions in the Business School, Undergraduate Admissions, Arts & Sciences and the Law School before arriving at the School of Education in 1992.
During her early years at William & Mary, she was also completing her bachelor’s degree at Christopher Newport University part-time and raising her young daughter. Soon after finishing her degree, she landed a new job as the School of Education’s registrar.
“This was the quintessential job that I always wanted,” says Pearson. Her father had served as dean of admission and registrar at Thomas Nelson Community College in the 1960s and 1970s, and she is proud to continue that legacy.
When asked about the biggest change in 25 years of managing student records, she points without hesitation to the digitization of data. When she started working at W&M in the early 1980s, the university had just started using word-processing equipment, so she’s experienced every stage of the digital revolution in higher education from a front-row seat.
And although she has enjoyed the transition to digital records, she misses the day-to-day interactions with students she used to have. “So much is done online now, that students don’t have to come into my office as often,” she says. “It’s more efficient, but I do miss getting to know all the students.”
Her favorite part about working at the School of Education? “I like being around smart and interesting people,” she says. “There’s no shortage of those around here.”
For students, Pearson is a kind and patient guide through an often-complicated journey toward graduation. The School of Education offers almost 30 different degree programs, each with its own specific graduation requirements, so Pearson’s love of puzzles comes in handy as she guides students.
“Wendy is never too busy to help a student, and always does it with a smile on her face,” says Dot Osborne, assistant dean of academic programs and student services. “She has a student-first mentality that she applies to every task she takes on. She is the kind of professional we should all emulate.”