TASFAA President's Farewell Remarks

TASFAA is sometimes considered unique because of the large size our state, the many leaders who go on to serve as  NASFAA Chairs and how well we do things, including our state conference. I would argue that what makes TASFAA unique is each one of YOU, the members. Each member brings  their unique talents and passion to our industry.

You take a group of talented people, thousands of miles apart from each other in some cases, from different school sectors, school sizes and different school missions; and they do amazing things that benefit TASFAA members, institutions, the state and nation, and most importantly, students in this great state of Texas. TASFAA members, I am referencing your board, your committee chairs/co-chairs and your committee members who have served TASFAA not only this year, but every year.

Last year at the annual fall conference, I stated that I looked forward to working with the TASFAA board, committee chairs/co-chairs and committee members to continue working toward the goals of TASFAA’s three-year strategic plan.

As part of the strategic plan, an established goal was to develop the professional skills and expertise of student financial aid administrators in the State of Texas.

To that end, a task force was formed to address this goal, the task force led by Carolyn Jones, along with Zelma DeLeon, Lyn Kinyon and Christina Pickla, developed the inaugural Aspiring Directors track for this year’s annual conference to support the development of our future leaders. Thank you for those who stopped me during the conference and told me how much they learned from the Aspiring Directors track. I also look forward to hearing from other attendees who participated, as to how they benefited from the track, and suggestions for the future.

Another key TASFAA objective of the previous mentioned goal was to increase offerings of NASFAA Credentialing. I am pleased to report that this year at the Regional training sites; the NASFAA Credentialing module for Satisfactory Academic Progress was provided. NASFAA credentialing was well received at all training sites. Thank you to our two Regional training co-chairs, Christy Miller and Heather Fountain.

For the second year in a row, TASFAA continued to provide additional opportunities for NASFAA Credentialing during our pre-conference. I would like to thank Christy Miller who has led this charge in the initial stages of researching the possibility of providing NASFAA credentialing to TASFAA members, as well as being a trainer on various NASFAA Credentialing topics.

A second goal of TASFAA’s strategic plan was to lead and facilitate the development of informed policies related to effective student financial aid programs and improvement of student access and success at institutions of higher education.

This past year we were able was to provide Financial Aid 101 presentations to approximately 40 staffers at the State Capital.

The Legislative Issues committee led by Alan Pixley and Zelma DeLeon worked on position papers and dissemination of information related to the legislative session updates. Input from TASFAA members was obtained during this past legislative session for development of these position’s papers. We thank you for your valuable input. In addition, I provided letters of introduction of TASFAA as a resource on financial aid programs to a number of state legislators.

Dr. Christopher Murr, Mr. Jimmy Parker and I provided a letter for support for SB 499 and were present at the state capital in support of this bill. We were also able to thank Senator Seliger for this bill, which clarified for schools that alternative loans were not intended to be included in the annual debt letters provided to students as required by SB 887.

The third strategic goal of TASFAA was to ensure finances are managed for the long-term fiscal health of the Association while also using funds to develop initiatives that will better meet the needs of the association members.

I asked Dr. Christopher Murr to lead the Operating Reserves Task Force and provide recommendations to the board regarding the appropriate balance of funds to maintain in TASFAA’s checking account. After research and working with Tia Clary, TASFAA’s accountant, Dr. Murr provided recommendations to the board of the target minimum of operating reserves to equal at least six months of average recurring operating cost. This recommendation was approved by the board and placed in the Policies and Procedures manual.

In addition to these accomplishments this past year, TASFAA committees continued their work on annual events, such as New Aid Officers Workshop, TASFAA ABC’s, and Regional Training, as well as working to educate high school counselors through Early Awareness, selecting sites for the next year’s fall conference and New Aid Officers Workshop. The Membership committee worked on soliciting new members to TASFAA and renewals of current members. The Nominations & Elections committee sought nominations for future TASFAA leaders; and the Awards and Scholarships committee solicited nominations to recognize those who have been leaders in this industry, excelling in various areas; as well as ensuring we recognize our members through years of service pins.  Communicating and Social Media continued to inform members via the list serve along with some Blog posting. The Mentor/Protégé committee fostered mentoring for those who are new to the industry. Treasury reports were provided at all TASFAA Board meetings as well as financial reports provided by TASFAA’s investment firm. All minutes from board meetings were posted in a timely manner on the TASFAA website.

Lastly, shortly after last year’s fall conference, ATAC, our long-standing web provider, announced they will be closing their operations after 25 years in November 2019. ATAC has been a wonderful partner with TASFAA for many years and we appreciate all they have done to support us. The board reviewed demonstrations and bids from several providers and selected MemberClicks as our new web service platform. This web platform is much more robust, and I believe you as members will be very happy with our new web platform. I want to express my sincere appreciation to Kevin Armalay, our
Web Services chair, who has led this effort from the start. He has done an amazing job!

A year goes by very fast - there is much to do and time is not on your side most days. It has been an honor and privilege to have led and served TASFAA as President. The board, committee chairs/co-chairs, and committee members worked hard for TASFAA all year. I am amazed at all of these individuals. TASFAA needs more volunteers, more folks ready to step up and run for the board, president elect, and president.

TASFAA members, you continue to do amazing work at your institutions to help educate Texas, providing the financial resources that so many Texas students need, and assisting them with obtaining their educational goals.

I leave you with this quote by Lyndon B. Johnson who signed the Higher Education Act of 1965 on the campus of Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas.

Poverty must not be a bar to learning and learning must offer an escape from poverty.

Best regards to all of you!

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