Gustavo Luna brings interests in student wellness and technology to create new services to help students realize full potential

Gustavo Luna, Registrar and Director of Student Services, joined the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy’s Registrar’s Office in June 2022 after serving as Associate Director for the Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences at U of T’s Rotman School of Management. However, he is not new to pharmacy, having previously worked with the post-baccalaureate PharmD program that evolved into the PharmD for Pharmacists. Luna started his career at U of T in Central Student Services at what was then called the “Psychiatric Service” and subsequently incorporated into “Health and Wellness.” There he learned about the impact of student mental health – lessons he continues to apply in his role as Registrar.

Luna spoke with writer Eileen Hoftyzer about his new role, his priorities, and what he is looking forward to.

What inspired your interest in the Registrar role at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy?

The portfolio of the Registrar and Director Student Services combines many of my professional interests, including the possibility to support students to help them realize their potential. The capacity to effect change at a larger scale through the creation and delivery of student services was also very attractive to me. I also have a background in technology, and there is an opportunity to deploy solutions to optimize processes that sounded appealing to me.

On top of all that, I have strong ties to the Faculty of Pharmacy. Working here previously was a very rich experience professionally. I saw the students all the way through their growth from getting admitted to shaking their hands at convocation and having seen first-hand the transformational effect of our programs on our students made my decision to pursue this role an easy one.

How does a Registrar support student experience?

Our team supports students in many ways. Admissions is part of the portfolio, so the Registrar’s Office team supports students from the time they are candidates seeking admission and continues with them in their journey until graduation. I see the Registrar’s Office as a driver of excellence in student support to match and leverage the academic and research excellence at the Faculty. The excellence we can bring comes from helping students overcome barriers so they can focus on their learning and instructors can focus on their teaching and research.

Students need different levels of support at different points. The most fundamental is the transactional and procedural services that facilitate student registration and progression through the program, enable access to financial aid and scholarships, and recognizes merit through awards.

On top of that is the services and support they receive. My vision is to provide holistic support that goes beyond what learners need in the classroom to include wellness and promoting an inclusive environment and a sense of belonging for everyone in the community.

We also need to support students in their skill development and preparedness for the job market as a complement to their academic work.

What are your main priorities for student-focused support?

My priority at that foundational level is operational excellence, so students receive effective and efficient support in every interaction with the Registrar’s Office team

For building a more holistic approach to provide student support, my priority is focusing on the student needs and interests inside and outside of the classroom, addressing diverse needs, and removing barriers and facilitating access. Recognizing diversity, providing access, and including diverse members of our community are important issues.

To support students in their self-development and self-awareness, my priority is to extend the feedback on performance they normally receive to include the strengths and skills developed in a competency-based curriculum.

Are there any new or emerging trends in professional programs that you’ve identified that will help shape your work?

I think the same focus on the human experience and the digital transformation that we see in professional programs generally, particularly in health care and the life sciences, translates to creating and providing student services at this Faculty.

Focusing on the human experience goes beyond the student experience. It is related to adopting a holistic approach and addressing self-development and self-awareness. We’re preparing professionals, and these themes are reflected in the profession – how pharmacists approach patients holistically and how they work as a team.

In terms of the digital transformation, we can look at how we are using and leveraging technology, not just to provide better health care, but also better student services and better feedback to our students.

What keeps you motivated in your role?

At the core, I think it is the genuine drive to develop and enhance services for students and a personal commitment to helping them realize their full potential. I truly have an interest in helping people and helping them become the best they can be.

What are you looking forward to in this role?

I look forward to promoting and supporting student success. I also plan to modernize the Registrar’s Office and explore new technology and innovations that we can implement to bring the level of services to new heights.

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, and my door is always open. The Registrar’s Office is here to support all of our students, in whatever their needs at the Faculty might be – our team is really a companion for our students on this journey they’ve embarked on.

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