Director of Financial Aid at Eckerd College

Eckerd College in the Gulf Coast city of St. Petersburg, Florida, seeks nominations and invites applications for the Director of Financial Aid who will serve as a member of the Division of Enrollment Management leadership team, under the direction of the Vice President for Enrollment Management. The Director of Financial Aid will assist in divisional strategic goal setting, and provide leadership and supervision to a small, but indomitable staff. In addition, the Director of Financial Aid will have the opportunity to consider how financial aid strategies can be maximized to fulfill the goals of the strategic plan being developed under the leadership of a new, visionary president. As a strong collaborator, the Director will be an effective partner with admissions and with all members of the Enrollment Management Team, which meets weekly and includes: Registrar, Bursar, Directors of Admission and Financial Aid, the Executive Director of Institutional Research and other cabinet-level leadership. This team is responsible for the continuous analysis and implementation of enrollment-related programs. The Director will be an effective spokesperson to students and families, providing service and customer care at the highest levels, and to the wider campus community, ensuring understanding and compliance within the complexity of federal and state regulations.

 

The Range of Responsibilities

  • Financial Aid Management—The Director will have a command of Title IV financial aid and Florida state programs, ensuring compliance with current regulations and policies. The Director will manage the awarding and disbursement of student aid funds and will provide fiscal accountability as related to processing applications, verification, eligibility determinations, return of federal aid, and professional judgment decisions. It is expected that the Director will have a comprehensive knowledge of the philosophy, concept and application of financial aid need analysis methodologies to ensure equitable treatment of applicants.  The director will oversee the request for funds and submission of all required federal, state, and institutional reports including FISAP.
  • Data Analytics and Technology—The Director should be nimble with data and comfortable with the technology to support best practices in all aspects of financial aid distribution, fiscal management, and enrollment activities. The Director will produce the rules and write algorithms that allow for annual updates to the new student and continuing student auto-packaging module in Banner, as well as ensure data integrity and regulatory compliance throughout the Banner system in conjunction with the VP and with financial aid staff. The Director will also use Slate for financial aid communications. Serving in an instrumental role in working with Ruffalo Noel-Levitz (RNL) on enrollment projections and financial aid optimization efforts, the Director will help Eckerd to reach institutional targets for enrollment, including diversity, discount rate, and net tuition revenue.
  • Team Management—The successful Director will lead a talented team of staff and well-trained student assistants through open communications, transparency, feedback, and goal-setting. An effective leader with a focus on customer service, the Director will hire, train, provide professional development opportunities, and ensure an environment of mutual respect, support, and camaraderie within the Financial Aid Office. Providing staff with essential updates, on a regular basis, regarding regulatory changes, institutional priorities, and enrollment goals will be essential. The Director will assume a hands-on approach to customer service, including working directly with families and students, resolving appeals and professional judgement requests, and communicating with students and families in an inclusive and equitable style that addresses the concerns and level of support needed for each individual case presented.
  • Collaboration and Communications—Possessing excellent interpersonal skills, the Director will assure timely and compliant delivery of aid to students and will actively participate on the Enrollment Management Team. The Director will work with administrative offices, particularly with the Registrar and Bursar offices, to resolve complex financial aid issues and ensure smooth and timely delivery of funds, and with the Controller and Advancement offices to provide the timely awarding of endowed and annual scholarships with a team effort to involve students in donor appreciation. The Director will engage in discussions that will properly designate athletic scholarships (Eckerd is NCAA Division II), and work with the athletic department to continuously improve processes related to the timely and accurate notification of aid eligibility for student-athletes. Partnering with the College’s communications team, the Director will develop and maintain published standards for institutional and student financial aid eligibility, including but not limited to student consumer information, policy and procedure manuals, institutional publications, and interpretation of federal policies.

 

Qualifications

Eckerd College is seeking a high-level financial aid professional with a minimum of six years of progressively responsible experience in financial aid, preferably at a private college or university. The successful candidate will be required to have earned a bachelor’s degree; an advanced degree is preferred. In addition, the successful candidate will possess:

  • Comprehensive working knowledge of Title IV financial aid programs as well as ability to quickly master state programs in Florida;
  • An ability to think strategically about financial aid awarding processes and to balance institutional need with the needs of individual students from a variety of racial and socio-economically diverse populations;
  • Oversight of equitable and inclusive policies, processes, communication, and customer service;
  • Excellent administrative skills to manage, train and develop staff members;
  • Precision and accuracy in all areas of regulatory compliance;
  • Customer service orientation with a professional, friendly attitude;
  • Technology skills that demonstrate nimble and clear understanding of data, research, and information systems and how they are best used in a financial aid office environment; direct experience with Banner and Slate is desired;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills; adept at working with diverse populations;
  • An open and honest communication style with outstanding written and oral communication skills;
  • An inclination for innovation with a strong sense of actionable assessment, always with an eye toward improving and modernizing process and efficiencies;
  • Strong belief in the growth and development of staff;
  • An understanding that learning never stops; and an
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced, changing environment.

 

Eckerd College

Eckerd’s 1,900 traditional-age undergraduate students are smart, active, and open to new people and experiences. They represent 48 states and territories, and 36 countries. Eckerd College provides a safe space that educates and inspires students, staff, and faculty of all backgrounds to spark critical conversations, break boundaries, and challenge stereotypes through enriching and intentional programming, events, and training. Eckerd’s Cultural Council works diligently to create programming for all students on campus and promote a safe and positive climate that is accepting, respectful and welcoming of students of all identities.

Leadership

Dr. Damián J. Fernández became Eckerd’s fifth president in 2020, having already served over 30 years as an academic professional in higher education. In a recent message to the community, he states:

At Eckerd our vernacular is that of purpose and possibility: from the structured flexibility of our pedagogy to the mid-century modern, utilitarian design of our buildings, from our active student organizations to our commitment to global education and innovative interdisciplinary programs combining liberal arts with lifelong professional skills. Our engagement with the world beyond our shoreline, through study abroad and classroom work, is a reflection of the spirit of adventure, inclusion and pragmatic idealism that we cultivate in our students.

Visit the President’s page for more information:  https://www.eckerd.edu/president/

Admissions and Financial Aid

With more than 5,500 applications, Eckerd accepts approximately 3,300 first-year and transfer prospective students into its strictly undergraduate programs. The 2019 new student class consisted of 539 first-time students, and 48 transfer students.

Financial aid and scholarships are available through an ambitious financial aid program that benefits about 96% of Eckerd students. Approximately $48 million in financial aid was awarded last year. Assistance packages may include a combination of scholarships, grants, work aid, and loans. The average award last year from all sources was $36,000 and the range was from $5,500 to $47,000.

Academic and Student Life at Eckerd

Eckerd’s approach to the liberal arts is built around personalized mentoring, small classes and learning by doing—both inside the classroom and in the greater community.  As a liberal arts institution, students learn crucial skills—how to collect information, to critically evaluate data, to communicate their findings clearly and back them up with solid research. Beyond the classroom, every Eckerd student completes at least one internship, research study, service-learning project and/or study abroad experience. The Eckerd Edge enhances the classroom experience for all students through resources and programs, before and after graduation, that enriches learning and prepares students for what’s next. The curriculum is based on two semesters with a short winter term for continuing students. First-year students begin their college careers as part of a specific Autumn term class, which then culminates in a senior capstone course, bringing many of the original Autumn term classmates back together to reflect on how far they have come and grapple with the questions that will define them as adults they are becoming. Eckerd offers more than 40 majors and dozens of minors to choose from, plus the option to create a self-designed major.

Nestled between two of the country’s top 10 beaches, Eckerd’s 188-acre waterfront campus offers mangrove thickets, seven freshwater marshes and ponds, a white sand beach and its own marina.  Outdoor—and indoor—activities abound for students, faculty, and staff all around campus, including art exhibits; film, music and theater events; a writers’ conference; athletics, club sports, an abundance of student organizations, public lectures, summer camps, and a summer pre-college program for high school seniors.

Housing options for students range from traditional rooms to apartment-style suites with incredible views of Boca Ciega Bay. As a living-learning residential environment, 88 percent of its students live on campus. Eckerd College offers pet friendly living arrangements, allowing both small and large pets. Eckerd competes in NCAA Division II athletics as members of the Florida Sunshine State Conference.  Eckerd ranked in the top ten for the academic success of its student athletes.

For more information about Eckerd College, enjoy visiting https://www.eckerd.edu/.

 

St. Petersburg, FL – “The Sunshine City”

St. Petersburg is one of America’s most popular destinations, and a great place to live, from the city’s vibrant downtown filled with museums, art galleries, shopping, dining, and major league sporting activities to some of the nation’s top ranked beaches. A peninsular city with a subtropical climate, St. Petersburg is surrounded by 244 miles of shoreline along Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and intracoastal waterways. A boater’s paradise, the St. Petersburg Marina is the largest city marina in the southeast. The average temperature is 73.7 degrees, with an average 361 days of sunshine per year. The “Sunshine City” holds a Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine.

As of the 2020 census estimate, the population of St. Petersburg is just under 275,000, making it the fifth-most populous city in Florida. St. Petersburg is home to a very diverse and active neighborhood community. The Community Services Department helps develop and implement neighborhood improvement programs overseeing a network of more than 110 neighborhood and business associations, supporting existing organizations or helping create new civic or business groups, developing neighborhood plans, implementing neighborhood traffic plans, and coordinating the city’s volunteering initiative, I CAN (Involved Citizens Active in Neighborhoods).

There are 137 parks on approximately 2,300 acres of public land dedicated to parks and recreation, including a seven-mile preserved downtown waterfront—the third largest urban waterfront park system in North America.  Unique parks include the 245-acre Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, the botanical attraction Sunken Gardens, Treasure Island Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, and the historic Weedon Island Preserve. The Pinellas Trail, a 37-mile hiking/biking trail, connects St. Petersburg with central and north Pinellas County-the longest urban linear trail in the Eastern U.S.

St. Petersburg has a remarkable collection of special facilities including its landmark Pier, Tropicana Field—an enclosed baseball stadium and home to the Tampa Bay Rays—the Mahaffey Theater, the Coliseum, a 1920s restored dance hall and event venue, the historic Shuffleboard and Lawn Bowling Complex, 18 recreation centers, six public libraries, the southeast’s largest city marina with a ship store, the Port of St. Petersburg and the Albert Whitted Airport.  St. Petersburg has been ranked the No. 1 Arts Destination for cities its size for three consecutive years, with a vast collection of world-famous museums and galleries.  Located on the west coast of Florida, St. Petersburg is part of the greater Tampa Bay region with a population of 2.7 million; is an hour’s drive from Orlando, and four hours from Miami or Jacksonville, Florida.

For more information, visit https://www.stpete.org/

To Apply

Napier Executive Search is assisting Eckerd College with this search.  For more information or to nominate someone for the position, contact Robin Reynders (robin.reynders@napiersearch.com) or Mary Napier (mary.napier@napiersearch.com) for a confidential conversation.  Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.  For full consideration, application materials should be submitted electronically to eckerd@napiersearch.com by June 1, 2021.  Applications should consist of three documents in PDF format: (1) an in-depth cover letter that addresses the candidate’s qualifications and accomplishments in the areas identified in the position announcement, (2) a detailed résumé, and (3) a list of three professional references with titles, contact information and a sentence describing the nature of each professional relationship.  References will not be contacted without the candidate’s knowledge and permission.  The selected candidate will be subject to standard financial and criminal background checks.

 

Eckerd College is committed to fostering a diverse faculty, staff, and student body, and an inclusive campus community. Eckerd is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Eckerd College is especially interested in attracting candidates from historically underrepresented groups.