University Registrar Karen Schultz has encountered several mishaps from the mistaken identity as a result of having the same name as Gary Schultz’s wife.
A Bellefonte resident, Karen said the former interim senior vice president for finance and business hired her when she came to Penn State. She said over the years, she and his wife have had several different mix-ups, including switched mail and dry cleaning.
“A lot of people have made that mistake, it’s pretty common,” she said. “When the [Jerry] Sandusky news first broke, I got a few emails from people saying, ‘I’m so sorry with what’s happening to your husband.’ And I said, ‘I think you have me confused with someone else.’ ”
Kaye Keith, who works in the office with Karen Schultz, said the office has received several calls from people who thought Karen was married to Gary Schultz, but she said they always responded by confirming the two were not married.
Karen Schultz has worked at Penn State for more than 32 years, after taking a hiatus from the university when she graduated in the 70s.
She said that while living in Washington, D.C, she saw an ad for a job opening at Penn State. Remembering how much she loved completing her undergraduate work at the university, Schultz said she decided to accept the job.
“I never thought I’d be here 32 years,” she said. “But I got the job and I stayed.”
Schultz said she found that she loved working in higher education and loved what the town of Bellefonte had to offer. Originally, she said her whole career was based in information system technology, and she started out as a programmer. But after enjoying her work in the registrar’s office, Schultz decided to apply for the position of university registrar when it opened, and she found she loved it.
Schultz said she enjoyed working with the people in the registrar’s office and found the work challenging and interesting.
“I really felt like what the office was doing was so important to the students and their academic success at Penn State,” Schultz said.
Keith said that Schultz has done amazing work as registrar, including meeting with students on her own time in order to get feedback and pay close attention to detail.
“She’s all about the students,” Keith said.
As registrar, Schultz said she is responsible for maintaining a complete academic record for every student who has ever attended Penn State. She said the records date back to 1855, the year the university was founded.
Schultz said some of the older records are contained in the university archives for safekeeping, but she said the office often gets requests from children or grandchildren who want records of a deceased relative. She said people who are writing books also call to request access to the old records.
“It’s kind of amazing when you think about it,” she said.
And after the Sandusky sex abuse case last year, Schultz said the office received calls from people who were upset with the university — including alumni who didn’t want to be associated with the university anymore.
“They wanted their records expunged; they wanted no reflection of Penn State on their records,” she said. “We don’t do that, that would be like trying to erase history.”
Schultz said the Office of the Registrar is also behind the features on Elion, including scheduling, transcripts and degree audits. She said her technology background has been useful for her position.
But she said her favorite part of the job is graduation because “it’s such a happy time.”
This year, however, will mark Schultz’s last as university registrar. Schultz said she will retire in May 2013. After working at the university for so long, Schultz said she felt it was time to do something else.
“It’s been a privilege to work here,” she said. “And to be able to retire as university registrar is just more than I ever imagined when I started working here in 1980.”
Another colleague of Schultz’s, Assistant Vice President and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Yvonne Gaudelius, said it has been wonderful working with her.
“I’m very happy for her,” Gaudelius said. “I think it’s wonderful, but I will miss her tremendously.”
But despite Schultz’s upcoming retirement, Gaudelius said the registrar’s office is in a strong place. She said whomever replaces Schultz will be able to step right into a good place at the office.
As of right now, Schultz said she has no definitive plans for the future other than resting, relaxing and spending time with her two daughters who currently live in Colorado.
“It’s a little bit scary,” she said. “I’ve worked my whole life, so it’ll be interesting to see what it feels like to not work. But I’m really excited.”