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Behind the Scenes with Registrar Charlene Carpenter

Students come and go from the College of Law in three year cycles. Each year there is a new class of students, while another group leaves. But one mainstay at the College of Law has been Charlene Carpenter.

Carpenter came to the University of Cincinnati at the age of 19, where she worked in the Student Affairs Department for two years. Then, in March of 1981, she moved to the College of Law, where she has worked ever since.

“Even though things change, they’ve really stayed the same, as much as that sounds corny and ridiculous,” said Carpenter, who spent about 15 years in admissions at the College of Law, before transitioning to her present role as the registrar.

While she is often behind the scenes, Carpenter truly does it all, helping the students and faculty with nearly every aspect of the law school experience: course registration, exams, grades, transcripts, bar admissions, loan deferrals and more.

The Wyoming, Ohio native is also one of the two Great Lakes region representatives for the National Network of Law School Officers, a student services organization comprised of registrars, admissions officers and professional development staff members.

The warmer weather and longer days signal the end of the semester is fast-approaching. While that means countless hours studying for the students, this is one of the busier times of the year for Carpenter as well as she completes a lot of the end of the year items, as well as puts in place plans for the next academic year.  

“The actual busiest time of the year, however,  is December through February because that is when there is much more activity – the end of one semester and the beginning of another semester, right on top of each other,” Carpenter said. “It’s always a challenge.”

Honing A Creative Outlet

Similar to everyone else in the College of Law community, Carpenter has a lot on her plate and enjoys what little down time that she has. In addition to enjoying doing yard work on her property, her main hobby is painting.

“I’ve always enjoyed it,” Carpenter said. “In ’93, I really started to put some effort into it. I started taking classes and I’ve been at shows now. I do probably two or three every year.”

In addition to the family photographs and other meaningful items that adorn Carpenter’s desk area, her walls are decorated with four different paintings – each painted by Carpenter herself. One of these paintings is from a family vacation, picturing one of her daughters, Naomi, and her two sons on the beach. 

“These are all of something special,” she said. “Usually I paint something that has a reason for being painted. I also do house portraits, which is kind of a fun thing.”

Carpenter, a proud mother of three (Angelene, Naomi and Danny) and a proud grandmother of three (Jacob, Gabriel and Leta), lives in West Harrison, Ind., with Dan, her husband of soon-to-be 35 years. That number is almost rivaled by her 31 years at the College of Law and 33 overall at UC.

But both Carpenter’s family life and her work at the College of Law are very much intertwined, and she laughed thinking about how her children grew up at the corner of Clifton and Calhoun too. It is fitting that the concept of family has continued to play a major role throughout her meaningful tenure at the law school.

“It’s a close knit family, believe it or not,” Carpenter said. “It truly is a very student-oriented place. We all like to make sure that everybody has a great opportunity.”

As countless students have entered the College of Law as timid 1Ls and left UC to purse even greater opportunities, Carpenter has stayed in touch with many of them. In fact, just recently a former College of Law student was in the area and stopped by her office. “She graduated back in the 1990s. She came by, stopped in, and said hello,” Carpenter said. “She was on a visit through the Midwest and she came and said hi, which was really pretty cool.”

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13