MSFAA Memory - Shared by David Strong

Monday, January 22, 2018 11:53 AM | Anonymous

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!

Dave Strong

Financial Aid Systems Manager

University of Michigan-Flint

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