NASFAA 2016 Awards Announced in Washington, DC

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National Association Bestows 2016 Awards on Financial Aid Administrators, Researchers Who Exemplify Excellence in Serving Students

Each year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) presents awards to the most deserving members of the financial aid profession and higher education community.

Each year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) presents awards to the most deserving members of the financial aid profession and higher education community. These awards are reviewed and selected annually by NASFAA’s Awards Committee and ratified by the Board of Directors. They are presented each year at the National Conference, with nearly 2,500 members in attendance.

NASFAA’s award recipients for 2016 are:

The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award (2 recipients): The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award is one of the highest awards that NASFAA bestows. It may be awarded either for significant contributions in the furtherance of NASFAA’s goals over a sustained period of time, or for a single contribution of momentous importance.

  • Dan Mann, 2015-16 NASFAA National Chair and Director of Financial Aid at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the course of his 35-year financial aid career, Mann has been active in state, regional, and national professional associations, and is currently NASFAA’s National Chair. He has served as director of financial aid at various institutions, including his current tenure at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he leads an operation that administered over $755 million in financial aid awards last year.
  • Paul Combe, President & CEO of American Student Assistance. Combe has consistently promoted and advocated for the role of proactive, objective, nonprofit education debt management and advocacy services for student loan borrowers. Over his career, Combe has served as chairman of NASFAA’s Need Analysis Standards Committee and as the liaison for NASFAA to the Committee on Need Analysis and Delivery. He has dedicated his work and career to making student debt more manageable.

Lifetime Membership Award: In order to be eligible to receive this award, the individual must first be employed by a member institution, be an affiliate member, be employed by a constituent and associated member organization, or be a student member. This award is the very highest which NASFAA can bestow on a member, therefore, the achievements and contributions of the individual must truly be outstanding and significant.

  • Jim Swanson, Director of Financial Aid, Colorado College. For the past 37 years, Swanson has lived his passion of helping students, parents, high school counselors, and fellow college administrators with the student financial aid process and advocating for access to higher education for low-income families. Swanson has volunteered on numerous state, regional and national association committees and task forces, as well as on the College Board National Council and Financial Aid Standard and Services Advisory Committee (FASSAC). His leadership experience includes serving as president of state and regional financial aid associations. On the national level, he has served as a member of the NASFAA Board of Directors for several years in positions including Commission Director and Representative-at-Large. He is also a current member of NASFAA's Ethics Commission.

Meritorious Achievement Award: The Meritorious Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has made either an important single contribution to NASFAA or the profession, or significant multiple contributions.

  • Heather McDonnell, Retired, Associate Dean of Financial Aid and Admission, Sarah Lawrence College. McDonnell has been an active member of our profession for 35 years. In addition to her countless leadership roles, committee chair assignments, and tireless advocacy for students, McDonnell has been a mentor to generations of aid professionals. She has been very active in both NASFAA and EASFAA. She retired in 2015 after more than three decades in financial aid.

Honorary Membership Award (2 recipients): Honorary Membership in NASFAA is the highest honor that the association can bestow on a person who is neither a member nor affiliated with a member organization. Since this is the highest such award that NASFAA can give, the individual receiving it must have made truly outstanding contributions to the association and to the profession over a sustained period of time. It is not expected that honorary membership will be granted in recognition of a single accomplishment, but for continued efforts over a period of time.

  • Jamie Merisotis, President & CEO, Lumina Foundation. Merisotis has long worked in the field of higher education with a goal of increasing access for lower-income students. He is a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, higher education and public policy. Since 2008, he has served as President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. and a driving force for increasing Americans’ success in higher education.
  • U.S. Congressman John Kline. Congressman John Kline has been proud to represent the men and women of Minnesota’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives since first being elected to Congress in 2002. In 2010, Mr. Kline was chosen by his peers to serve as the Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee – the first member of Congress from Minnesota selected for this position. A 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps, he also serves on the House Armed Services Committee. Mr. Kline has been a staunch advocate of the federal student aid programs and has worked in a bipartisan manner to help advance access, equity and success in higher education. As the Chairman of the Committee on Education and the Workforce he has been a committed partner in and contributor to NASFAA’s advocacy efforts.

Golden Quill Award: The Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award is presented to individuals chosen for their contributions to the body of research on student financial aid.

  • Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton, associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Judith Scott-Clayton has made many contributions to the literature on financial aid, including “On money and motivation: A quasi-experimental analysis of financial incentives for college achievement.” This careful quasi-experimental study examined the impact of the West Virginia Promise program on college completion outcomes for qualifying students. The study provides compelling evidence that the scholarship program supports college completion not only through providing direct financial support but also providing students with guideposts for what it means to be successful in college.

Regional Leadership Awards (6 Recipients): The individuals selected for these awards must exhibit high integrity and character, must have shown creative leadership, and should have inspired and encouraged others to actively participate in professional development. One award is given in each of six regions:

  • EASFAA – Maribeth Quinn, Director of Financial Aid, JFK Muhlenberg Snyder Schools
  • MASFAA – Lori Vedder, Director of Financial Aid, University of Michigan - Flint
  • RMASFAA – Darry Voight, Executive Director, Enrollment Services, Casper College
  • SASFAA – Ron Day, Senior Director of Financial Aid, Kennesaw State University
  • SWASFAA – David Page, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Dillard University
  • WASFAA – Wendy Olson, Director of Institutional Research, Whitworth University

Gold Star Award: The Gold Star Award recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency.

  • Michigan State University, for “Utilizing Learning Management Systems for Financial Aid Training,” an online training program that offers many benefits including reaching learners from various geographical locations, allowing self-paced learning, and the ability to review training materials at any time.

Statement of Appreciation (2 recipients): This award is presented to recognize and thank an individual or individuals for service to NASFAA or the profession. In order to receive this award, the recipient should have performed some service or made a contribution to NASFAA or the profession. It is an award by which the association can say "thank you for a job well done."

  • Joe Paul Case, Dean of Financial Aid, Emeritus, Amherst College. Case has more than 40 years of countless meritorious contributions to the profession. He is the past recipient of NASFAA’s Meritorious Achievement Award. Most recently, as a retiree he has performed yeoman’s work on NASFAA’s 50th Anniversary Task Force. Through his abundance of work for and with NASFAA, MASFAA, COFHE, College Board, and other organizations, he has been one of the principal architects of the financial aid system used today.
  • Clantha McCurdy, Senior Deputy Commissioner, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) extends to Dr. Clantha McCurdy its sincerest appreciation for her role as chair of the 50th Anniversary Task Force. Over the past two years, she has provided dedication, leadership, and direction in planning the many special opportunities and events associated with NASFAA’s 50th anniversary. In addition to her work with the task force, McCurdy has been a devoted volunteer to NASFAA in several other capacities over the years, including serving as National Conference Chair for the 2013 Las Vegas Conference and Local Arrangements Chair for the 2011 Boston Conference. She embodies what it means to be a devoted, selfless volunteer to the financial aid profession, and NASFAA is grateful for her continued service.

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email timmonse(at)nasfaa(dot)org or call (202) 785-6959.

About NASFAA
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit http://www.nasfaa.org.

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Erin Timmons
NASFAA
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