From The President: Chris Johnson
A KASFAA member recently asked me why we have a KASFAA board of directors and why it's important to have one. I guess I feel fairly qualified to give an answer, having served on the board as both a committee chair and as an elected officer. This is just my opinion, though. Others may agree or disagree.
It's probably pretty obvious that an organization needs to have a governing body, i.e. the elected officers. The KASFAA Board of Directors has the following elected officers: president, vice-president, past-president, secretary, treasurer and the associate member representative. But what about all the committees? Why do we have them? Are so many really necessary?
The answer really lies in the goals that the organization established for itself back when it was founded in 1984. In the KASFAA by-laws, the following 4 goals are codified:
- To foster and promote standards of professional preparation, effectiveness, recognition, and association of student financial aid administrators and counselors at institutions of higher education and other public and private agencies/organizations concerned with or engaged in the support and/or administration of student financial aid.
- To serve the needs and interests of students, faculties, and administrators of institutions of higher education, and public and private agencies/organizations administrating student financial aid by promoting and facilitating the coordination of student financial aid programs.
- To promote and facilitate communication among institutions of higher education and other public and private agencies/organizations.
- To stimulate, promote, and conduct training, research, cooperative experiments, education, conferences, and other related activities as are desirable or necessary in fulfilling the purposes of the Association.
It's pretty obvious that a few elected officers will not accomplish this alone. The goals are really an obligation of every member who chooses to join KASFAA. Since the tasks are many and the membership is large, the leaders of the organization divided the membership into two groups - institutional members and associate members, with carefully designated rights and responsibilities for each group. The leadership also established standing committees to help achieve the organization's goals. Over the course of the last 30 years, various boards have also created special committees when necessary. Some special committees have persisted long enough to become standing committees, while some have been disbanded as soon as the needs that prompted their creation passed.
Here is the current standing committee structure with my take on what each committee accomplishes for KASFAA.
This committee is chaired by the current past-president. Its' other members are the current president and the two other most recent past-presidents. The committee conducts annual reviews of the by-laws and committee policies and procedures. The committee also conducts the annual officer election. This committee serves also as a sounding board for the president, since three of the members will have served as president.
This committee plans the two annual conferences. These conferences provide professional development opportunities for members. Most would hopefully agree that this is a very important way to meet all four KASFAA goals each year. For many members, this is the only chance to interact with other financial aid administrators and to attend professional development sessions. For other, more experienced members, it's a chance to demonstrate their knowledge to other members by presenting sessions or conducting workshops. In this way, all members can find value in attending the conferences.
If you read any professional development theory, you see that the program structure of the conferences serves the theory well. See if you agree that our conferences help create an environment for effective adult learning:
- They feel comfortable with the learning environment and attempt tasks that allow them to succeed within the contexts of their limited time and demanding lives.
- They have opportunities to engage in social learning, i.e., to learn from peers as well as from an instructor.
- They have a variety of learning options appropriate to their learning styles (including sensory modalities, ways of thinking, and both individual and group learning), and have opportunities to analyze and expand their modes of learning.
- They are able to associate new learning with previous experiences and to use those experiences while learning.
- They have an opportunity to apply theory/information to practical situations related to their own lives.
- Demonstrations that illustrate new practices and reinforce their use are essential to full comprehension and implementation.
Conference planning is a very complex process. The conference site must be determined two or more years in advance and then the planners have to work with locations that may have changed owners and experienced degradation in facilities and/or service over that time. The president-elect serves as chair of the committee and the vice-president serves as the program subcommittee chair. Other subcommittees may be established to work with site, meals, entertainment, registration, publicity, etc. This committee also works with other committees on aspects of the conference, such as award ceremonies, special training seminars, and sponsor recognition. It is a very demanding task, but very important to KASFAA. It is extremely satisfying to be a part of a successful conference.
KASFAA would not be able to provide the current quality of training and conference accommodations without the support of this committee. This committee solicits sponsor and exhibitor support for conferences and training locations. These fees they provide also help bring quality speakers to our conferences and support conference entertainment and off-site activities.
This committee manages and maintains electronic communications for KASFAA, including KASFAA-L and www.kasfaa.org. The committee chair will serve as our single point of contact with ATAC Corp. when they assume hosting responsibilities of the website in the coming weeks. This committee interacts with every other KASFAA committee. I have served a number of years on this committee. I find it very interesting, so interesting that I have served as a committee member and as a chair of this committee. You don't have to be a techie to be on this committee, by the way.
KASFAA would be nothing without members. This committee takes applications for new members and presents them to the entire Board for approval. The committee also reminds members to renew membership annually. This committee will be very involved with the new online membership database in its initial year as we learn to use the new online features.
The newsletter serves two purposes. We learn about what's going on across the state and we also are provided with timely financial aid information that comes from our institutional and associate members. So, this publication hopefully keeps you professionally and personally connected with your peers if you cannot attend conferences.
I have chaired this committee in the past. It's an interesting challenge to come up with stories for each edition and to edit stories that come in from other sources.
Publicity and Awareness
This is our outreach committee to the general public. Members of this committee help represent KASFAA at many college night events across the state and through additional service opportunities. The information that KASFAA provides is not biased towards any particular school or school type, so we are a very user-friendly source of information for prospective postsecondary students and their families.
This committee provides excellent training to both KASFAA members and to Kansas high school counselors. The committee serves KASFAA members by providing neophyte training at the conferences and annual support staff workshops at two locations in the state. The training for high school counselors is held in the late fall when teams of KASFAA trainers conduct multiple training sessions throughout the state to update counselors with the latest financial aid information available. This training draws good attendance each year and annual evaluations show that the service is appreciated.
I have assisted with neophyte training as a member of this committee. The work is extremely satisfying.
Those were standing committees defined in the by-laws.
Here are the current special committees, created by a vote of the board of directors:
This committee of associate members, i.e. KASFAA members from businesses and organizations that support institutions in the delivery of financial aid, conducts annual benefit events at conferences. The fall event is usually a charity event to benefit an organization in the community where the conference is being held. The spring event is a scholarship fundraiser. KASFAA takes these funds and awards them to students attending member institutions.
The awards committee solicits nominations from the membership for various awards that recognize service to KASFAA. The committee also evaluates eligibility for length of service awards. The committee organizes and facilitates the annual awards banquet at the spring conference.
College Goal Sunday
You should all certainly know about this committee and the good work it does. The committee is responsible for all the organizational work and fundraising work it takes to do the event. Members of the committee facilitate the February event by working with people at the sites and coordinating all the details necessary to put volunteers where they are needed. CGS really involves all of KASFAA. The CGS committee helps keep things organized.
We are one of the few state organizations that support fiscal officers as they work with Perkins and other financial aid programs. This committee maintains its own email list for issues that are important only to fiscal officers. Committee members also submit session ideas to the conference planning committee so there will be sessions of use to fiscal officers at the conferences. In addition, the committee facilitates a annual special training day for fiscal officers where a speaker is usually invited to provide the latest information of importance to this group.
This is the newest KASFAA committee. This committee is there to help new members establish themselves in the financial aid profession through mentoring at conferences and also in person, by phone or by email. If the conferences provide an atmosphere for successful adult learning, this committee plays a role in reinforcing training, since successful learning has two additional components:
- Participants need to practice new approaches in a safe environment and receive structured feedback on their attempts.
- New approaches need to be applied over time in a real situation--preferably ones where continuing feedback and analysis are possible.
Mentors provide the safe environment that a new member can turn to when s/he needs direction, advice or support. The relationship lasts as long as the new member wishes.
This committee greets new members into KASFAA. The members construct special gift offerings and then deliver these packages directly to the new member. The committee will also help disseminate important personal information about our peers/friends through news items in the Oz-Sociated Press or via email announcements. A contact with a member of this committee may be a new professional's first contact with KASFAA.
So, in order to achieve the goals set out in the KASFAA by-laws, the board of directors, including the committee chairs, come together frequently at KASFAA conferences, special meetings, or even by list email, in order to ensure that the organization actively pursues its goals each year through its established structure of an elected Board and the above listed supporting committees. I can't see any committee in place that doesn't perform an important role in serving our members or our state. The success of all this of course depends on the membership taking an active volunteer role in the committees and on individual members stepping up to take on leadership roles as committee chairs or elected officers.
So, that's my answer to the question why we have a KASFAA board and committees. It has been very satisfying to me to be a part of KASFAA for nearly 12 years. I have benefited from the training I have received and have been professionally challenged and rewarded by conducting training, serving on committees, chairing committees and running for elected office.
Note: the statements on professional development theory come from the National Reporting System for Adult Education (NRS) website at www.nrsweb.org/professional development.asp.
KASFAA by-laws can be found at www.kasfaa.org.
A call for 2004-05 committee volunteers and for nominees to run for elected office will come out later this year. Current official descriptions of committees and officer responsibilities will be provided at that time.
University of Kansas
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