Mount Holyoke College seeks a dynamic, innovative, and strategic leader to serve as its Executive Director of Student Financial Services.
About Mount Holyoke College
Mount Holyoke College is a world-renowned women’s college that is gender diverse. Since 1837, it has built and fortiﬁed a spirited, engaged and intellectually adventurous community, taught by an innovative faculty dedicated to their students and passionate about their disciplines. The ﬁrst of the Seven Sisters Colleges, Mount Holyoke prepares students with the skills necessary to become conﬁdent leaders in a rapidly changing world. Mount Holyoke is ranked consistently as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and its students go on to make a difference across a wide variety of professional and civic endeavors.
The College’s current strategic plan was developed in 2016 and is scheduled to be accomplished by 2023. To date, many of the objectives have been completed, and of particular note for employees have been critical achievements as the result of establishing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Division, investing in employee development and training, and navigating a complex employee relations and staﬃng environment as the result of the pandemic.
Mount Holyoke has a rich tradition of enrolling an unusually diverse student body. Among its enrollment of 2,200 students, 24% identify as domestic students of color and 25% are international students, making Mount Holyoke among the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the United States. Each year, students typically hail from 45 states and 84 countries. Approximately 15% of students represent the ﬁrst generation in their families to attend college and 20% are Pell Grant recipients.
Mount Holyoke meets 100% of the calculated ﬁnancial need of its students through its ﬁnancial aid program. In 2021-22, 64% of students receive need-based aid, with the average first year ﬁnancial aid package totaling $47,930 (of which $42,874 was Mount Holyoke grant aid). A total of $80 million in ﬁnancial aid was awarded, including $65 million in institutional grants and scholarships. 84% of merit scholarships are in need based financial aid packages, and 16% are merit only. Student Financial Services also oversees an institutional loan program that awards $1M annually and has a portfolio balance of $14M as of June 20 2021
About the Position
Mount Holyoke seeks candidates for this role who are motivated by working in a highly student-centered environment where a deep and abiding care for students is a paramount value. Reporting to the Vice President of Enrollment Management, the executive director will lead a team of 11 staff and a comprehensive student financial services program that encompasses financial aid, student account billing and student loans.
The new Executive Director will enjoy an exciting and challenging opportunity to reenergize a best-in-class SFS program to include these features:
- Support the mission of SFS by providing access to financial resources to students in a fair, sensitive, and confidential manner; to inform and educate students and their families about financial options; and to continually improve services so students may take the best advantage of their educational opportunities.
- Provide a robust array of system improvements for staff based on principles of quality improvement.
- Prompt, comprehensive and reliable reports regarding financial aid eligibility assessment, awards and follow up.
Essential duties and responsibilities:
- Provide strategic and operational leadership of the college’s financial aid and student accounts program and services.
- Manage an institutional financial aid budget of approximately $65 million and total financial aid program of $85M annually.
- Direct supervision of the SFS leadership team, including the: Director of SFS for Financial Aid, Sr Associate Director of Student Accounts and Sr. Associate Director of SFS for Systems and Data Analyst.
- Lead, mentor, and provide opportunities for professional growth for the SFS team; create a culture of continuing growth in functional knowledge and soft-skill development including collaboration, problem solving, adaptability and community engagement.
- Monitor and ensure compliance with federal and state regulations and institutional policies, including federal Title IV and state financial aid programs, loan and account collections, protection of financial records.
- Engage with divisional leadership on strategic enrollment planning and cross-divisional planning and program support.
- Participate in program assessment including econometric modeling for yield and financial aid projections
- With divisional leadership (VPEM, DOA) and partner consultants, evaluate enrollment funnel analytics and adopt prescriptive yield and student success initiatives that pertain to the financial aid and student account program and delivery/model of services to prospective students.
- With VPEM, evaluate departmental support of MHC student success initiatives. Perform an annual review of those policies and practices that enhance or detract from student success.
- Lead SFS engagement with the Division of Student Success and Division of Student Life in case management of academic and financial risk student reviews.
- Oversee reporting to internal and external constituencies including the federal government (FISAP, IPEDS, etc.), professional organizations (COFHE, College Board, Common Data Set etc.), and the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.
- Develop and administer the standard operating procedures for the department, to include training, documentation, and professional development. Implement a service feedback program.
- Prepare and deliver briefings on current local or national issues pertaining to student financial services programs and policies.
- Represent the college at state, regional, and national conference and policy meetings.
- Active involvement in the professional association committees and workgroups.
- Participate in all aspects of the general financial aid process, including: counseling prospective and current families; need analysis and packaging; and committee discussions.
The Successful Candidate
The successful candidate will demonstrate excellent communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills, and be both detail and people oriented in working with confidential financial data and with the families providing that information. Familiarity with systems and process improvement and assessment programs is a must, as is a clear track record of utilizing data to inform decisions. Equally important is the candidate’s proven ability as a strong supervisor who is skilled in building a sense of team, maintaining open lines of communication, offering relevant professional development opportunities to stay current in the field, and ensuring that staff are appropriately cross-trained in the various office functions in order to serve students effectively. In addition, candidates must be able to effectively and efficiently manage multiple and competing deadlines and work both independently and collaboratively.
Successful candidates must have thorough knowledge of existing and changing regulations at all levels, including a track record of success in complying fully with all such regulations. A demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence is a must.
A bachelor’s degree with a minimum of eight years’ of progressively responsible experience in student financial services, preferably at an institution with a robust need-based program as well as familiarity with the nature and aims of a selective liberal arts college. The preferred candidate will possess an advanced degree with experience functioning in administrative roles at the Executive Director or Director level.
- Experience or appreciation and understanding of the SFS model of providing services to students. Understanding of the controls required in the separation of duties between financial aid and student accounts staff and between SFS and Finance.
- Understanding of regulatory environment for billing, collections and loan programs including information security and records management
- Facility with financial aid management systems; ERP software, PowerFAIDS and Slate experience is preferred. Experience with a campus-wide ERP implementation is preferred.
- Significant experience with Institutional Methodology (IM).
- Significant familiarity with the management of a need-based financial aid program for international students.
- Demonstrated skill in ensuring that unit and division project goals and objectives are met.
- Track record of establishing and maintaining cooperative working relationships with a diverse population, both within and outside the College.
Knowledge and Competencies
- Ability to identify and analyze a variety of issues and problems, making recommendations for policy change and/or taking action to resolve.
- Ability to define problems, collect data, establish facts and draw conclusions, and effectively present information to senior leadership.
- Strong skills in areas of prioritizing, strategically planning, working in a fast-paced environment and meeting deadlines in spite of frequent interruptions and change of focus.
- Competence in managing complex administrative processes effectively and efficiently.
- Strong crisis intervention and conflict resolution skills.
- Demonstrated commitment and sensitivity to multicultural needs.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.
- Ability to maintain high ethical standards and maintain composure while responding proactively to issues.
- Ability to handle confidential and sensitive issues with a civil and respectful approach.
How to Apply
Interested candidates should send, as two separate documents, a resume and a letter of application that relates skills, abilities, knowledge, and professional experiences to the stated qualifications for the position and notable achievements. The packet should be sent to: EDSFS@wspelman.com
Recruitment is underway and will continue until the position is filled. To ensure full consideration, applications should be received by December 13, 2021. Confidential inquiries should be made to Megan Spelman at (585) 750-7091 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The College is committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination whether based race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, handicap or disability, veteran/uniformed services status, or gender identity. We have also committed ourselves to the active recruitment of candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Mount Holyoke College believes in the right, indeed the necessity, of free inquiry and free expression for every member of the college community. The College aims to provide an environment hospitable to open interchanges of knowledge and opinion in the terms of reasoned discourse. The citizen’s rights to free speech, free movement, free association, peaceful assembly, and orderly protest extends to every member of the College. So do the citizen’s responsibility to uphold the law and the civilized person’s obligation to respect the rights and feelings of others.