The biggest worry facing one-fifth of undergraduate students at Yale this week may well be whether they can secure a seat in “Psychology and the Good Life.” Even Battell Chapel, which seats 850, cannot accommodate the more than 1,000 registered students.

The responsibility of solving this problem ultimately lies not with the professor of the class, psychology professor Laurie Santos, but with Emily Shandley, the new University registrar. Shandley replaced Gabriel Olszewski, who served as the first University registrar for six years, over winter break.

Shandley, who joined Yale in 2012 as an associate University registrar, is now responsible for student registration, scheduling and record-keeping for Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In collaboration with registrars across the professional schools, she also ensures in her new post that the University complies with federal regulations on privacy and proper conduct when handling student information.

“As an undergraduate I had good relationships with the registrar and the director of financial aid. They were incredibly supportive of me,” Shandley said. “In some ways you can look at it as my way of giving back. It’s a very rewarding and gratifying role for me.”

According to Deputy Provost for Academic Resources J. Lloyd Suttle, to whom Shandley reports, she was chosen after a nationwide search led by representatives from across the University.

Before joining Yale’s administration in 2012, Shandley worked in administrative roles for New York University and Princeton. Suttle added that Shandley’s extensive experience in the field and her keen understanding of the registrar’s role qualify her for the job.

Shandley has two overarching goals for her tenure — to fully digitize registration systems and to increase the campus presence of the registrar’s office.

The University registrar position is one of the newest in Yale’s administration. Shandley’s predecessor Olszewski became the first University registrar in 2011. Olszewski took on the responsibilities of the registrar for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and was responsible for overseeing the University’s student information systems more broadly.

“This office has never had a defined mission,” Shandley said. “Being able to define a mission for the office and who are we and what our presence is on campus is a goal of mine for this year.”

Electronic registration means more than just going paperless, Shandley said. She also plans to reform the current system so that it tracks the progress of student requests to the office, in the same way that companies like Amazon track the status of items before and during the shipping process.

If a student asks to drop a class, for example, this workflow would send notifications to the student when their request is received, processed and approved. Additionally, it would notify their residential college dean and anyone else who would need to know the progress of the request, Shandley said.

Shandley expects this project to take a couple of years to complete. She said it will first be implemented among the undergraduates and graduate students and may later expand to professional students.

Yale administrators who have worked with Shandley praise her wealth of institutional knowledge and creativity as a problem solver. Associate Dean of Yale College George Levesque said Shandley has the ideal preparation and temperament for the job.

Jennifer Frederick, executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, who served on the Yale College Committee of Teaching and Learning with Shandley, said her input was critical in the recent revision of the Online Course Evaluation system.

“I have always found Emily to be an excellent colleague,” Frederick said. “She is an excellent listener, she asks good questions and she brings open-minded creativity to address challenges.”

Jingyi Cui |