This was one of two administrative positions named in the University Act of 1907. The other was President, which would not be filled for another year.
McColl had been appointed Deputy Minister of Education in 1905 and would remain so until 1912.
When he was named Registrar, the university was a concept — there were no buildings, faculty or staff. McColl was seen as an able administrator and quickly began the work of establishing convocation. This, in turn, elected the Senate which would create the Board of Governors.
He resigned as Registrar in 1914 and was immediately named Secretary of the Board, where he served for another two decades.
He was awarded an honorary degree in 1928 and died in Vancouver in 1949.