THE OPPORTUNITY

Founded in 1863, Saint Mary’s is a residential campus nestled 20 miles east of San Francisco in the picturesque Moraga Valley. Based on 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 most significant teaching order of the Roman Catholic Church, guide the spiritual and academic character of the College. Saint Mary’s offers undergraduate and graduate programs integrating liberal and professional education as a comprehensive and independent 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

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

Reporting to the vice president for enrollment management, the financial aid office seeks a dynamic and collaborative executive director of financial aid (EDFA) to bring their expertise in developing, implementing, and maintaining comprehensive financial aid services for students. This leader will be experienced in awarding processes and compliance with institutional funds, state aid, federal aid, and private sources. The EDFA will be responsible for the oversight and implementation of financial aid pricing and aid strategies, policies, and awarding practices for the Institution to assist graduate and undergraduate students in enrolling and persisting to graduation. The EDFA is expected to collaborate and develop strong working relationships with the Registrar’s Office, Athletics, Advancement, Admissions Office, Graduate admission offices, Student Accounts, the Student Success Office, Student Life departments, and other key partners across the College. The EDFA has oversight for the awarding and disbursement of over $100 million in financial aid and ensuring regulatory compliance of institutional, state, and federal aid (Title IV programs).
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.
  • Provide leadership to the financial aid staff and encourage innovation and inclusive excellence within the Financial Aid Office to provide optimal student-centered services to graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Ensure that Financial Aid Office practices are guided by, and comply with, ethical standards.
  • Possess knowledge of the regional and national dialogue regarding financial aid best practices.
  • Responsible for all financial aid data required for Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Common Data Set, California SB70 enrollment, and the Federal Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP).
  • Responsible for financial aid data required for professional organizations such as NACUBO, PACCON, and AICCU.
  • Responsible for the Federal A-133 audit for Campus-Based Aid and maintaining compliance for the federal and state (i.e., Cal Grant) Program Participation Agreement and the state Institutional Participation Agreement.
  • Responsible for effective financial aid research, planning, and implementation of all administrative functions related to processing financial assistance and reporting.
  • Develop, analyze, and interpret statistical and financial data for enrollment and financial reporting.
  • Serve on vital institutional committees (e.g., Budget Committee, Enrollment Group).
  • 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.

HISTORY OF THE POSITION

Before 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 the day-to-day operations. Since then, the office has experienced numerous changes in the leadership position. There is currently an interim director of financial aid contracted from an agency until October 2022, with plans to overlap with the new executive director of financial aid. In addition, the executive director of financial aid reports to the current vice president of enrollment, Michael Beseda, who has announced his retirement in the fall.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE

The prospect of identifying a seasoned and collaborative leader that will revitalize and rebrand the Financial Aid Office while educating the campus community on financial aid policies and best practices is an exciting one for the campus community. Saint Mary’s College of California stakeholders articulated challenges related to compliance and service excellence in the Financial Aid Office in recent years. Despite concerns, stakeholders feel optimistic about the future of the office, given the interim’s role in stabilizing the office these past eight months. The College is eager to attract and support a seasoned leader who will provide long-term stability to the Financial Aid Office.

Most leadership positions have recently been filled, particularly in departments that work with the executive director of financial aid, such as admissions and registrars. There is an ongoing search for a new vice president for an enrollment management position to supervise the executive director of financial aid. The vice president of enrollment management will be named and have a role in searching for financial assistance executive director.

The timing of bringing in a new executive director of financial aid, along with other recent vital hires, is ideal as there is renewed confidence and momentum in the division.

Key stakeholders wanted a prominent leader and an effective communicator with a proven track record in audit and compliance and systems optimizations—particularly with colleagues. The executive director of financial aid is expected to have a deep appreciation and commitment to diversity, first-generation college students, and access programs, given the College’s diverse student body and its designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

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

  • The director has remained current in overseeing and interpreting all rules and regulations about financial aid funding, budget, compliance, and other related institutional best practices.
  • The director has developed an overall and clear understanding of the Institution’s financial aid and scholarship awarding strategy so that all internal stakeholders can articulate and support it.
  • The director is prominent, accessible, and collaborative throughout campus, working with all constituents on successful enrollment and retention practices.
  • The financial aid office will work with synergy and shared purpose with the entire campus community to ensure that student satisfaction and success are at the core of the office’s mission.
  • The director has successfully provided substantial support, guidance, and professional development opportunities to the financial aid staff.

Qualifications

QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

This position is an exceptional opportunity for a strategic institutional thinker with at least five years of experience managing a financial aid office in a higher education Institution or similar setting. The ideal candidate will be knowledgeable about program rules and regulations and the role technology plays in enrollment management; a solid collegial advocate for financial aid policies and procedures; have experience in and ability to anticipate the broader ramifications of changes to financial aid policies; able to interpret general educational issues, policies, and regulations; and team and customer-service oriented.
In addition to the stated qualifications for the executive director of financial aid position, stakeholders at Saint Mary’s College of California indicated that the new director would seek the following personal characteristics.

  • Confidently serves as the campus financial aid expert who can effectively implement solutions and educate the campus community on financial aid policies and regulations.
  • A team player who can foster a collaborative approach to achieving goals.
  • Possess the highest degree of personal and professional ethics and integrity.
  • Displays advanced problem identification, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and sound judgment and decision-making abilities.
  • Expert utilization of data and current industry technology to support the division’s goals and responsibilities.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, as well as exceptional written, verbal, and presentation skills
  • Documented experience in project management, organizational effectiveness, staff management, and leadership.

Institution & Location

OVERVIEW OF THE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE

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

Organizational Chart for the Division of Enrollment and Communications

https://digitalcommons.stmarys-ca.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1169&context=faculty-handbook

Leadership of the Division

Michael Beseda – Vice President of Enrollment and Communications

As the vice president for enrollment and communications, Michael Beseda oversees Admissions, Financial Aid, the Registrar, international student recruitment, and the Office of College Communications. Beseda began his career at Saint Mary’s and worked in Moraga for more than three decades, starting as an admissions counselor and advancing to vice president for college communications and enrollment.

Beseda graduated summa cum laude from the “great books” program at Saint Mary’s. He earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from San Francisco State University and completed doctoral coursework in policy studies in higher education at UC Berkeley.

Vice President for Enrollment and Communications | Saint Mary’s College (st marys-ca.edu)

INSTITUTIONAL OVERVIEW

Mission and Commitments

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.

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/about-smc/our-mission

Commitments

Inclusive Excellence & Sustainability

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

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/about-smc/our-commitments

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 to move the College successfully toward achieving its aspirations.

To read more about the Strategic Plan, please visit: https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/strategic-plan/strategic-plan-2015-2020

Organizational Charts for Campus

https://digitalcommons.stmarys-ca.edu/faculty-handbook/vol2017/iss1/9/

Leadership

Dr. Richard Plumb – President

Richard Plumb, a first-generation college graduate and the 30th president of Saint Mary’s College of California as of 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

Dr. Corey Cook – Executive Vice President and Provost

Previously serving as the vice provost for academic programs and planning and more recently as the interim provost, Cook has helped lead the College’s efforts to navigate successfully through the pandemic while continuing to make progress on critical initiatives around strategic planning, institutional effectiveness, sustainability, and academic alignment, including collaboration with the faculty and educational leaders on the Omnibus Task Force and its goals around 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

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.

https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/inclusive-excellence

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 may be emailed to Roxanna P. Cruz at rpc@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.