Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s is a residential campus nestled 20 miles east of San Francisco in the picturesque Moraga Valley. Based in the Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts traditions, Saint Mary’s currently enrolls more than 4,000 students from diverse backgrounds in undergraduate and graduate programs. The De La Salle Christian Brothers, the largest teaching order of the Roman Catholic Church, guide the spiritual and academic character of the College. As a comprehensive and independent institution, Saint Mary’s offers undergraduate and graduate programs integrating liberal and professional education. Saint Mary’s reputation for excellence, innovation, and responsiveness in education stems from its vibrant heritage as a Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts institution. An outstanding, committed faculty and staff that value shared inquiry, integrative learning, and student interaction bring these traditions to life in the 21st century. The College is committed to the educational benefits of diversity.

The Position

HISTORY OF THE POSITION

Until 2017, Saint Mary’s College of California had a seasoned, long-standing director of financial aid overseeing the office staff and the overall functions of day-to-day operations. Since then, the office has experienced turnover in the leadership position. In the fall of 2021, Saint Mary’s invested in an interim financial aid director from Financial Aid Services to position the next executive director for success (https://www.financialaidservices.org/). This staffing support will remain in place until at least November 2022.

ROLE OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL AID FOR SAINT MARY’S COLLEGE OF CALIFORNIA

Saint Mary’s College of California seeks a dynamic and collaborative executive director of financial aid (EDFA). Reporting to the newly appointed vice president for enrollment management (https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/saint-mary%E2%80%99s-welcomes-shobi-sivadasan-as-vice-president-for-enrollment-management), the new Executive Director will develop, implement, and advance comprehensive financial aid services. The EDFA oversees and leads the implementation of financial aid leveraging strategies, financial aid policies, and awarding practices to assist graduate and undergraduate students enroll and persist to graduation. The EDFA must collaborate and develop strong working relationships with the Registrar’s Office, Admissions, Student Accounts, the Student Success Office, Student Life departments, and other key partners across the College. The EDFA is responsible for all awarding processes and disbursement of approximately $70 million in financial aid, as well as ensuring regulatory compliance and reporting of institutional, private, state, and federal aid (Title IV programs). After a transition period, the new executive director will be offered the option to work remotely up to two days per week.

Additional responsibilities of the executive director of financial aid include the following:

  • Provide leadership to the College community in understanding the impact of federal, state, and institutional financial aid budgeting decisions toward achieving College enrollment objectives.
  • Encourage innovation and inclusive excellence within the Financial Aid Office to provide optimal student-centered services for graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Ensure that the Financial Aid Office’s practices are guided by, and comply with, ethical standards.
  • Possess knowledge of the regional and national dialogue regarding financial aid best practices.
  • Develop, analyze, and interpret statistical financial data for enrollment and financial reporting, including, but not limited to: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS); Common Data Set; California SB70 enrollment; Federal Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP); Federal A-133 audit for Campus-Based Aid; federal and state (i.e., Cal Grant) Program Participation Agreement; state Institutional Participation Agreement; and professional organizations such as NACUBO, PACCON, and AICCU.
  • Develop workshops and programming focused on financial literacy and college affordability (e.g., SALT) for graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Develop and implement electronic communication flows for financial- aid awarding to new and continuing graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Serve on key institutional committees (e.g., Budget Committee, Enrollment Group).

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE

The new executive director joins Saint Mary’s at a pivotal time. Saint Mary’s recently named Shobi Sivadasan as vice president for enrollment management. A leader with a wealth of experience and demonstrated success, Sivadasan’s appointment invigorates the division, and she will provide expert support for the new executive director. Additionally, the new executive director will join an enrollment management leadership team rejuvenated by recent appointments of key leaders in the admissions, registrar, and marketing offices.

Saint Mary’s College of California’s Financial Aid Office is optimistic, engaged, and eager to attract and support a seasoned leader who will continue the positive trajectory of revitalizing, rebranding, and stabilizing the organization. The new executive director must strengthen compliance and service excellence, and invest in education regarding financial aid policies and best practices in order to address concerns regarding service delivery that resulted from the recent turnover in the leadership role.

To strengthen trust and confidence in the Financial Aid Office, the executive director must be a prominent leader and an effective communicator with a proven track record in audit, compliance, and systems optimizations such as Colleague. Designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Saint Mary’s College of California boasts a highly diverse student population. Additionally, the College enjoys a large community of first-generation students. The executive director of financial aid must exhibit a deep appreciation and commitment to diversity, first-generation college students, and access programs integral to student persistence and retention.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

The executive director of financial aid will work with the vice president for enrollment management to determine specific measures of success and related timetables. Following an appropriate period of acclimatization, the following may define success for the new executive director:

  • The executive director has a reputation for expertise in prevalent best practices regarding oversight and interpretation of rules and regulations about financial aid funding, budget, compliance, and other related institution operations.
  • The executive director developed and deploys comprehensive and coherent communications about the institution’s financial aid and scholarship awarding strategy, and all internal stakeholders can articulate and support it.
  • The executive director maintains effective partnerships for successful enrollment and retention practices and is perceived as highly visible, accessible, and collaborative throughout the College.
  • The Financial Aid Office is perceived as working in concert with the entire campus community to ensure that student satisfaction and success is at the core of the College’s mission.
  • The executive director enjoys a reputation for providing substantial support, guidance, and professional development opportunities to the financial aid staff.

Institution & Location

OVERVIEW OF THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE

Enabling students to access a Saint Mary’s education is part of the College’s commitment to individual attention and a part of its Lasallian heritage. When Saint Mary’s College sees potential in a student, the institution does its best to ensure tuition does not get in the way of their future. Ninety-one percent of Saint Mary’s students receive some form of financial aid.  https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/financial-aid

DIVISIONAL LEADERSHIP

Shobi Sivadasan – Vice President for Enrollment Management

As the vice president for enrollment management, Shobi Sivadasan is responsible for overseeing Admissions, Financial Aid, the Registrar, and international student recruitment. Sivadasan brings a depth of experience across all functions of enrollment management. She joins Saint Mary’s after serving as the vice provost for enrollment management at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Previous higher-education experience includes serving as the senior associate vice president of graduate and international admissions at the University of New Haven and the dean of graduate admissions and enrollment management at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Sivadasan earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Applied Electronics & Instrumentation Engineering at the University of Calicut in Kerala, India, and a Master of Engineering degree in Engineering Management from Stevens Institute of Technology. She has also worked in software engineering, quality assurance, project management, and classroom instruction both in the United States and India.

Saint Mary’s College of California Press Release regarding the appointment of the Vice President for Enrollment Management

ENROLLMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION CHART

INSTITUTIONAL OVERVIEW

Mission

“To probe deeply the mystery of existence by cultivating the ways of knowing and the arts of thinking. To affirm and foster the Christian understanding of the human person which animates the educational mission of the Catholic Church. To create a student-centered educational community whose members support one another with mutual understanding and respect.”

Commitments

Inclusive Excellence & Sustainability

“As a liberal arts institution, Saint Mary’s is committed to preparing responsible citizens who contribute to the common good. As a Catholic institution, Saint Mary’s affirms the moral obligation to care for God’s creation. And as a Lasallian institution, Saint Mary’s recognizes that the most devastating impacts of environmental degradation are visited upon the disadvantaged.”

Strategic Plan

“The Strategic Planning process was designed to galvanize the College community around a compelling vision and future possibilities for continued intellectual vibrancy, financial strength, and innovation. The leadership-driven project engages the College community to define and commit to a comprehensive five-year plan that specifies goals, initiatives, outcomes, measures, resources, and an implementation framework that will move the College successfully toward achieving its aspirations.”

Statement on Diversity

“We of Saint Mary’s College of California are dedicated to treating all people with dignity and respect in ways that acknowledge and engage diverse backgrounds and ideas. Our policies, practices, and behaviors foster a safe and inclusive community and promote learning that is equitable, collaborative, and inspired by the presence of God in and among us.”

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INSTITUTIONAL LEADERSHIP

Richard Plumb – President

Richard Plumb, a first-generation college graduate and the 30th president of Saint Mary’s College of California since July 1, 2021, is a native of Syracuse, New York, and earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Syracuse University. His teaching and research interests span from applied electromagnetics to ground-penetrating radars. He has authored over 50 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles.

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/president

Corey Cook – Executive Vice President and Provost

Previously vice provost for academic programs and planning and more recently interim provost, Cook has helped lead the College’s efforts to navigate successfully through the pandemic while continuing to make progress on such key initiatives as strategic planning, institutional effectiveness, sustainability, and academic alignment, including collaboration with the faculty and academic leaders on the Omnibus Task Force and its goals regarding transitioning credit hours, workload policies, core curriculum revision, and prioritization and innovation for academic programs.

Cook came to Saint Mary’s from Boise State University, where he was the founding dean of the School of Public Service and a professor of political science.

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/provost-vice-president-for-academic-affairs

Benefits Overview

BENEFITS OVERVIEW

To learn about the benefits offered at Saint Mary’s College of California:

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/2021OE

Application & Nomination

Application and Nomination

Review of applications will begin Immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position and details about the status of this search may be emailed to Kara Kravetz Cupoli at kkcc@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email info@spelmanjohnson.com.

 Visit the Saint Mary’s College of California website at https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/.

 Saint Mary’s is an equal employment opportunity employer. We support inclusive excellence and are committed to creating a safe and welcoming community for all. College policy prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition, physical or mental disability, gender stereotyping, and gender identity, taking a protected leave (e.g., family medical or pregnancy leave), or on any other basis protected by applicable laws.

RELATED LINKS

About Saint Mary’s College of California

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/about-smc/history-heritage

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/about-smc/facts-figures

About Financial Aid

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/financial-aid

Spelman Johnson has prepared this document based on personal interviews and information copied, compiled, or quoted in part from source documents obtained from our client, and as such, the contents of this document are believed to be reliable. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, the original source documents and factual situations govern, and the limited material presented here should be relied upon for informational purposes only.