by Dr. Christopher Murr, TASFAA President 2017-2018
At last year’s conference, I thanked you for entrusting me with the honor of becoming TASFAA president and promised to do my upmost on behalf of our Association. As with each TASFAA President and their Board of Directors, we undertook serious and deliberate work to accomplish the goals set forth at this time last year. I believe it’s important now to take a few minutes to update you on the progress made toward these objectives. These accomplishments are the result not only of the work of the Board, but of committee chairs, committee members, task force chairs and many others within TASFAA who have given of their time and talents.
Just some of these accomplishments include:
1. Implementation of Strategic Plan
The first goal was to develop and implement a member-driven, multi-year strategic plan. I am happy to report that such a plan was adopted earlier this year and is comprised of three strategic goals:
- Lead and facilitate the development of informed policies related to effective student financial aid programs and the improvement of student access and success at institutions of higher education.
- Develop the professional skills and expertise of student financial aid professionals in the State of Texas.
- Ensure that finances are managed for the long-term fiscal health of the Association while also using funds to develop initiatives that better meet the needs of the Association’s members.
Also, as part of the strategic plan, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each strategic goal were put into place. These KPIs are being used to measure progress toward each strategic goal and are already being reported on to the Board on a quarterly basis.
2. Better Informing Public Policy
Another goal was to enhance TASFAA’s role in informing public policy on effective financial aid programs, and our short-term goal this year in meeting this strategy was for our Association to be asked to testify before either the Texas House or Senate Committee on Higher Education. Doing so is critical to helping establish TASFAA as a trusted resource for informing such public policy. I am proud to report this goal was also accomplished in August during testimony on Senate Bill 887 before the Senate Committee on Higher Education. The written portion of that testimony is available on our TASFAA website. In addition, TASFAA is working with staffers on potential bill language related to several initiatives on improving financial aid programs and better assisting students.
3. Providing NASFAA Credential Training
Based on surveys of TASFAA members, we heard loud and clear from you (our members) that having the opportunity to participate in NASFAA Credential Training at TASFAA events was extremely important. Thanks to the Board, and in particular Ms. Christy Miller, Chair of our Credential Training Task Force, we have for the first time begun offering this credential training to our TASFAA members. This training was offered for the first time this week as a pre-conference session, and Christy and her task force are working on a long-term plan to incorporate such training in other venues.
4. Recognition of Financial Aid Administrators
So many in our Association do so much for our profession and often go unrecognized. That’s why another goal was to enhance our recognition of members for their dedication within the profession. Therefore, the TASFAA Board acted on the recommendations of the Awards and Scholarships Committee, chaired by Ms. Dede Gonzales, to create two new awards for TASFAA members. These awards, which were given out for the first-time last night, are the:
- Teaching and Mentoring Award, which recognizes someone who has demonstrated a commitment to teaching and mentoring other financial aid professionals over a sustained period of time.
- Financial Aid Support Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts by an individual in a back-office support role (not front line).
Courtney Todd (center) receives the inaugural Financial Aid Support Award
5. Needed Changes to our Policy and Procedures
Another goal was for the Board to undertake needed changes to the Association’s policy and procedures. Some of the changes that were made include:
- Adopting enhanced investment policy language that is in better alignment with the fiscal goals set forth in our new strategic plan. This hard work, which involved significant research, was performed by the Investment Policy Task Force, chaired by Ms. Delisa Falks.
- Adopting an Appropriate Behavior and Conduct Statement that is aligned with similar language adopted by our national association and that is designed to help ensure a safe environment for our members at TASFAA functions.
These are just a few examples of the work accomplished over the past year by the TASFAA Board, committee chairs, task force chairs and many others within our Association. Though just a sample, they are illustrative of the varying types of work being performed over the past year on your behalf.
6. ATLE- TASFAA Education Scholarship
There is one more accomplishment that I would like to bring to your attention. From a TASFAA perspective, I would like to thank Ms. Dede Gonzales, Chair of the Awards and Scholarships Committee, and TASFAA Board Member Mr. David Orsag. I want to thank them for their work on helping establish the criteria and process for a new scholarship. This new scholarship has been made possible by the generosity of the Association of Texas Leaders for Education (ATLE). The scholarship will be awarded for the first-time next year, for fall of 2019, to a TASFAA member. It is intended to help with the educational costs incurred by TASFAA members who are pursuing a higher education. This new scholarship program is called the ATLE-TASFAA Education Scholarship. The application will become available this February. So, stay tuned for more details.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the ATLE Board for their generosity in making this scholarship available to our members.