I would like to share my fond memories of MSFAA, to celebrate the 50th anniversary and re-live some humor. As with most financial aid professionals (Johanna Delorey Duckwall is the only exception I know of), I did not aspire to the profession, nor extensively prepare for what I was getting into.
My first day on the job was literally at the 1981 MSFAA summer conference. As one could expect, I was in awe of the acronyms and complexity of financial aid. Trying to keep straight National Direct, State Direct, Guaranteed Loans, the newly-named Pell Grant, SERs, SARs, and the two different formulas for Pell and campus-based programs was certainly a challenge.
It was, however, a great comfort to know that the helpful attitude that aid professionals have toward their student clients also carries over to colleagues, even those who are employed by competing schools. Learning from the experience and wisdom of veterans like Ed Harkenrider, Ken Fridsma, Bill Munsell, and Jean Maday was a continuing inspiration throughout my career.
The MSFAA conferences are also the source of humorous memories. I won the Glenn O’Kray “bite the bag” contest one year, when Fred Hasselback split his pants open in an attempt that came to an abrupt end (no pun intended). The memorable Paul Gill was always the source of politically incorrect humor, long before anyone knew there was a name for it. When the topic of conflicting information was being discussed, he said, “Get rid of that stuff! Burn it if you have to!” Then his office had a real fire, and of course he took a bit of good-natured abuse about not having any more conflicting documentation.
From his days of working in Admissions, Paul knew the admissions director at my former school and his reputation for being very frugal. When Paul saw us walking into the Amway Grand for a winter conference, his first words were, “There are the guys from the U.P. in their winter boots. Where are you staying, at the Red Roof Inn up the street?”
Another memorable conference was at the newly-opened Ritz Carlton in Dearborn, now dba The Henry. A former work-study student of ours had taken a job at Alpena Community College, and we had a small gift for him, a hat with a fish head projecting out of one end and a fin out of the other. We didn’t wrap it, but I wore it on my head as we checked in to the fanciest place we had seen. The staff probably didn’t know what to think of us; maybe the rest of MSFAA didn’t either.
Once I was looking around the facilities with a female colleague, and we nearly walked into the men’s locker room. To this day, she’s very thankful that we stopped short of that. They had a fashion show one evening, and we attended. When we headed out, Jim Moored asked if we had been at the show. After telling him that we did, he was dismayed as he had bet someone that I was the least likely one to be there. He must not have taken into consideration the free beer they were serving.
My first stint in Financial Aid lasted 11 years, and then I was a techie for 20 years, fortunately involved with financial aid issues for much of that time. It’s been wonderful to be back in the profession for 6 years, which will end with my retirement at the end of June. Congratulations, MSFAA, on serving students and aid professionals for 50 years. Keep up the good work!
Financial Aid Systems Manager
University of Michigan-Flint
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Two Past Presidents share their MSFAA Memories
Ken Fridsma MSFAA Memory
Did you know that the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association once passed a resolution opposing the Basic Opportunity Grant Program, now the Pell Grant? Financial Aid Administrators back in 1972 were just getting used to the campus-based programs and were afraid the government would take over the awarding of grants. The fear was that the government would eliminate or reduce funding for the SEOG, CWSP and Perkins (NDSL) programs. The argument was why create another grant program when money proposed for the Basic Opportunity Grants (Pell) could be added to the SEOG program. Little did they know that the program they opposed would be the major source of funding for low-income students.
Judy Layer Florian MSFAA Memory
I served as MSFAA President from 1984-85 and have many fond memories of my time in financial aid and with MSFAA.
I remember the first winter meeting held abroad in Windsor, Canada. The conference was held at the Windsor Holiday Inn overlooking the Detroit River. After checking in at the front desk, I went to my room. When I opened the door, the chain was still on the door from the inside and there was a couple in bed that clearly didn’t want to be disturbed! How embarrassing was that!! Fortunately, I was given another “unoccupied” room. I remember talking with Mary Jo McCann, Director of Financial Aid at Muskegon Community College, and other “long time members.” I made some suggestions about things MSFAA could do differently. Mary Jo’s response to me was, “So get involved and make some of those changes.” That was the start of my involvement in MSFAA and I never looked back.
Winter meeting in Grand Rapids, I believe in 1981; we had a blizzard, which kept us snowbound at the hotel. When we decided to “venture out,” we used the snow scrapers provided by a vendor (I believe it was Republic Bank back then), to help clear our windshields. Unfortunately, most of the scrapers broke because they weren’t that sturdy and the ice was pretty thick! For those of us in the Detroit area, we had a car caravan back home, stopping at rest stops and restaurants along the way. Quite an adventure!
The BEOG Dial Award, issued by the US Department of Education in 1980-81 was used to calculate a student’s annual BEOG Grant (now the Pell Grant). I remember Michelle Simmons, then at Wayne State University, indicating they would consider putting the Dial Award in the front lobby and let the students take 3 spins for a $1. The highest amount would be the student’s award for the year! Handle that in an audit!!
During my year as MSFAA President, I traveled to Lansing to meet with Governor Blanchard so he could sign the Financial Aid Awareness Month proclamation. Ron Jursa from the State of Michigan Scholarships and Grants Office joined me. I was so excited to meet the governor. I remember waiting a half hour for the governor and when he finally came in, we were whisked in and out in less than 5 minutes! So much for meeting the governor - no time to chat! Whew!
MSFAA’s first meeting on Mackinac Island was held during the summer of my presidential year. We weren’t sure how many people would venture “off the mainland” to attend, but we were pleasantly surprised at the large turnout! We also had a nice boat trip out to the Mackinac Bridge, which ended with a thunderstorm, leaving all of us drenched!
When a group of MSFAA members would eat out during conference dinners, Glenn O’Kray played the “Who has the same birthday?” game with those sitting around the table. Invariably, there would be at least two people with the same birthday. However, Glenn hit a snag at a meeting in Traverse City one year when, with a group of 15 at the table, no one had the same birthday. So, Glenn started going to other tables in the restaurant, asking complete strangers, if they had a birthday that matched anyone at our table! Of course, he eventually found one!!
I will always remember MSFAA as an organization where all financial aid officers worked together, willingly shared their ideas and always helping each other. No problem was too difficult to solve. We were never competitive like the Admissions folks and because of that, I think all of us felt a close bond with each other. I can remember many of my mentors and our past leaders, Henry Dykema, Ed Harkenrider, Glenn O’Kray, Ken Fridsma, Mary Jo McCann and Dick Johnson emphasizing to always keep students as the main focus of our efforts and not let the “regulations” get in the way of helping students get a higher education. I hope financial aid officers today can still continue that focus!
I am so sorry to miss MSFAA’s 50th anniversary celebration! Michael and I will be in Florida, a destination of ours each winter since our retirement! Wishing all MSFAA members a happy celebration and much success in the future!
I had the most amazing experience this week. Upon entering the Financial Aid area at Mott Community College…
I decided not to go in our secure door for staff but walked through the reception area as I do from time to time to see how things were going with our front line staff. As I approached the desk, I thought I saw an older gentleman walking away that could be Dick Johnson, one of MSFAA’s founding father and a Past President! I called out his first name, but he did not answer. I quickly ask the receptionist, the nature of the gentleman’s concern and she stated “he said he use to work here”. Moving as fast as I could (limping), I shouted out his full name twice, on the second shout, he turned around and came to me. It was Dick Johnson!!!! He remembered my face but not my name. We embraced and immediately ventured down memory lane for at least 20 minutes, MSFAA baseball games at Lake Superior College, retreats at Northwestern University (where I took the “trust test” as a possible leader by following Paul Gill—Saginaw Valley, blindfold, into the Men’s room where he turned on the water faucet—only Paul Gill would think of this!!)
Running into Dick Johnson was an exhilarating experience and divine intervention for me because our current MSFAA board had been trying to locate our founding fathers and past presidents. More importantly, seeing him was a reminder of why MSFAA exist today and how hard our founders fought for the financial programs that we have today for needy students.
Dick was at Mott because he was visiting someone nearby and decided to walk over and see his “old office” again (Former Financial Aid Director at Mott Community College). He had not been at Mott since 1982. He does not have an email address, does not text and only turns his land line on when necessary. Dick and his wife ride their bike on an average of 12 miles a day. He looks great.
Dick sadly mentioned all of our founding fathers were gone. He said other than Bill Munsell, another Past President, he had not seen anyone in Financial Aid in 25 years.
I was at the right place at the right time. How lucky for me! I shared our 50th Anniversary Plans with him. Unfortunately for MSFAA, Dick will be in Arizona in January. However, he plans to attend our Past President’s Breakfast at Summer Training, Crystal Mountain, in June. Dick did agree to allow me to take a picture of him for the Anniversary Memory book. The rest of the day was a happy one for me!
Author: Paul E. Doane, MSFAA President (1999-2000)
During my year as MSFAA President (January 1999 - January 2000) I had the opportunity to attend NASFAA’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV. On Sunday, July 14, 1999, prior to the start of the conference, NASFAA Staff and volunteers from college financial aid offices conducted a Carnival of Learning event for 4th to 6th grade students from Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Clubs at Bally’s Hotel. The carnival allows NASFAA members to reciprocate to the host city by providing a positive and enjoyable educational experience for local children. Its main goal was to make this children aware of the importance of postsecondary education and the financial resource that are available to assist them. Carnival activities included career activity centers, a backpack filled with education resources, a pizza party, a motivational speaker and fun games. I was one of the volunteers for the event and remember being impressed with the quality of the students I encountered. How could MSFAA members help meet needs of people like these in our communities back in Michigan, I wondered?
This encounter began the wheels turning and I hatched the idea of creating a Silent Auction event at the MSFAA winter conference in 2000 where a charity in one of our local communities would receive the proceeds from the event. The MSFAA Board endorsed the idea and the first Silent Auction was born. Initially, donations were solicited from schools and our vendor partners. The first Silent Auction raised $2500 to provide scholarships for black students in Grand Rapids through BEEP (Black Education Excellence Program). A representative from BEEP attended the conference and was presented with the check.
At the next MSFAA Board of Directors meeting it was decided to continue the auction and rotate the charity though the eight MSFAA regions that were organized geographically. This decision made it possible for charities throughout Michigan to benefit from the generosity of MSFAA members, our vendor partners and other individuals and organizations that donated items to the Silent Auction over the years.
The Silent Auction almost ended after the fifth year. I remember at a MSFAA Board Retreat several members questioning whether the Silent Auction had run its course and suggested that we needed to “pull the plug” on the event. Fortunately, I and others at the meeting were able to convince the board that the Silent Auction provided an opportunity for our members to reach into our communities in ways that were meaningful beyond the scope of the daily work we do in our profession. This resonated with enough board members to give the Silent Auction a new lease on life. And as they say, “the rest is history”!
In recent years, Foster Futures Scholarships through the State of Michigan has become the designated Silent Auction beneficiary. Donations have increased dramatically as scholarships to students aging out of foster care appear to resonate with MSFAA members. Since 2013, innovations to raising funds for our charities include “Change for Change” donations, $600 raised during a dueling pianos event during our 2016 Winter Conference, 50/50 auctions and an online auction of items not purchased during the Silent Auction during a two week period after the winter conference concluded. A big “thank you” to the many individuals in our organization (you know who you are) that put in the extra effort over the years to promote the Silent Auction to our membership. Your tireless work has not gone unnoticed!
During the last 18 years, the Silent Auction has raised over $63,000 to support charitable activity in the State of Michigan. In addition to BEEP and Fostering Future Scholarships mentioned earlier, the following groups have been supported through our giving:
These organizations reflect the diverse interests of our association and its members. I trust that many more Michigan residents will benefit from the Silent Auction in the years to come.
First Row - left to right: Sister Xaveria Barton, Consultant, Marygrove College, Judy Florian, Center for Creative Studies, Jean Calvert, Kellogg CC, one woman unknown
Back Row - left to right: Glenn Lowe, Aquinas College, Anne Watson, U of Detroit, Karen Pasquier, Oakland University, one woman unknown, Spencer Johnson, OCC and Jim Moored, Proprietary School consultant
Later I chaired the communication committee. For probably 20 years I drove to Lansing with others on the executive committee including Karen Stepien, Sr. Xaveria Barton, John Tomey, Donna Ryktarsyk, Judy Florian, Lee Anderson, Julie Tobin, George Emery, Howard Thomas, and the now-deceased Judy Johnstone and Spencer Johnson. (I hope I’m not forgetting anyone.) Not only would we solve the world’s problems but also our individual problems. The 90-minute discussions ranged from grousing about our bosses to monitoring proposed new legislation to how to raise kids.
Left to Right (those facing camera only): blonde lower left (unknown), Judy Florian, Center for Creative Studies, Tom Scarlett, MSU, Mary Jane Bond, WCCCD, Cliff Denay, North Central Michigan College, Howard Thomas, Albion College, Henry Wise, U of M Flint
When Howard Thomas was president, he suggested that we come up with a poster featuring Bo Schembechler and George Perles, football coaches at U of M and MSU. We came up with such a neat poster that high school counselors would take them home rather than hang them!
Another fun poster was one of a bull terrier wearing a graduation gown. We included this verbiage, “Apply early for college. Apply early for financial aid. Don’t drink.” Some counselors refused to hang the posters. They said we were encouraging drinking!
We used to have community college sector meetings at my cottage in Brighton. When someone new came to the meetings, we would have a formal induction ceremony. All wrote their names on a wooden sword. Inductees had to repeat, “What you see here, what you hear here, leave it here!”
One day in a coffee line in Washington DC I met an official who had relatives in Detroit. We went through the ritual of defining the people that we both knew. She mentioned a guy by the name of Steve Wall from the University of Detroit. I told her that I knew him, but there was a nun at the meeting who was related to him. That nun, Sr. Xaveria Barton of Marygrove, and the federal official had already met, but in Afghanistan and had had dinner together in Kabul!
In probably the early eighties a group of MSFAAites were to escort Washington muckety mucks to reauthorization hearings at Wayne State. On the prior night, we took the biggies to the Hyatt Hotel for a little libation. We closed the place. The next day I was really dragging. It didn’t feel like I was even walking right. When it came time to pick up NASFAA staffers and Congressional aids, I looked at my feet and discovered that I had an earth shoe on one foot and a loafer on the other!
The MSFAAites with whom I dealt were closer to me than were my colleagues at my own college. I shall always remember them. They were like family to me.
Hum, “Those were the days my friend. I thought they’d never end. Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.”
Left to right: George Emery (standing), Wayne State University, Jean Maday, State of Michigan Scholarships and Grants, man next to Jean unknown
It was February of 2011. I was looking forward to serving our association as incoming President having learned from some of our state’s best leaders. The winter conference was being held in Kalamazoo and all was well… until it wasn’t… weather reports went from just cold to a blizzard on the way! Schools state wide were cancelling classes, businesses were preparing to shut down for the blizzard of 2011, or as the following headlines read in this article…
Download full article here.
Leadership past and present gathered informally to decide, do we move forward or cancel the remaining days of the conference? We were torn. Some attendees were not waiting for the official word, they were packing it up and heading out! At the last minute, an announcement was made that those who felt they needed to leave should do so, those willing to brave it out could stay. The hotel was more than accommodating for those of us who toughed it out one last night. They afforded us our planned dinner, didn’t uphold us to our room count for that evening and just prior to everyone ducking out, I officially took the gavel. Those that stayed entertained themselves with karaoke and storytelling, and from that evening new friendships blossomed!
This week we are excited to share with you the entire first issue of the MSFAA Mentor [PDF], The Official Publication of the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association, published in December 1999. Oh snap!
This publication gives us a true peek inside our Association in the late 90s and into the minds of financial aid leaders just before the turn of the century. You will find wicked awesome cover art from Deirdre Moore, totally rad articles written by Barbara Banks, Val Meyers, Mark Delorey, an in depth look into Y2K anxiety, memories from a Summer conference at Shanty Creek with 600 attendees (you go MSFAA!!) and much more!
We hope that you find this issue to be "all that and a bag of chips."
Peace Out 'til next week.
Just an interesting "tidbit" from the past - in a time long ago - in another universe !!! Okay…no Star Wars BUT, before most current financial aid professionals were born, I became MSFAA President. 1980 - 1981 (who remembers)?
I became the first and only International President in MSFAA history. Elected by Michigan schools but monitored by one very tight MSFAA treasurer, one William (Bill) Munsell then Director of Financial Aid at Lake State, we ended up at a Holiday Inn in Windsor, Canada for my inauguration (I think the rooms were $2 a night cheaper In Canada).
Even though I did not have any experience in financial aid, I was made director of financial aid and placement at Henry Ford Community College in 1972. I was quite unsure of myself. I became involved in MSFAA if only to save my job! My first contact, Dick Johnson of Mott Community College, became my mentor. I called him whenever a problem arose. I used to say, “The only thing that matters is getting a clean audit.” And my MSFAA colleagues helped make that happen.
I became heavily involved in professional activities as the result of an accident of fate. The officers from Region V were meeting monthly at the home of Gladys Rappoport, the director at Oakland University. It was probably in 1974, and one of those present, Mike Carty, said he could no longer chair a committee hosting MASFAA’s annual meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in Dearborn. His school was RETS, and it had been broken into and the situation was disastrous. I was appointed the chair of the host committee. Our theme was, “Better Ideas in Ford Country.”
That got me in touch with a broad range of financial aid folks throughout the state. I used to brag to my kids that I knew somebody from every college in the state. I cherish many memories. I will share some of them.
We used to play a game called “bite the bag.” You would start out with a paper grocery bag and all who wanted to participate would pick up the bag with their teeth. Then the top of the bag would be cut off, and this would continue until there was just a small piece of brown paper on the floor. Henry Dykema, the now deceased director from MSU, showed us all up by taking out his false teeth and picking up the bag!
I was chair of the professional development committee when we chose a resort rather than a college for our summer meetings, the first being at Shanty Creek. Not surprisingly, attendance immediately jumped by 50%! Our committee came up with, I believe, the first MSFAA T-shirt emblazoned with, “Financial Aid Officers Need Analysis.”
Please send your stories and photos to Kelly Schneider (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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