Aren’t We Lucky?

I’m sure many of you have already read this article/interview in today’s NASFAA News about RMASFAA’s (and NeASFAA’s) very own Craig Munier, but just in case you missed it, here it is.
I just personally want to add that I feel very proud to know Craig and to be lucky enough to have worked with him directly. Having him represent us in this national capacity is a huge honor, in my opinion. Best of luck to you, Craig! Let us know if you need anything! We’re here for you!!!

Ten Questions With NAFSAA’s New National Chair, Craig Munier

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

Meet Craig Munier, NASFAA’s 2013-14 National Chair!

Munier is currently the director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and recently led the discussion group for NASFAA’s Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery Task Force. He has served as a trainer for NASFAA and the U.S. Department of Education. He holds a BA from the University of Northern Iowa and an MS from Iowa State University.

As he begins his tenure as National Chair, Munier took some time to discuss with Today’s News his goals for the next year and what inspires him as a financial aid professional. Of NASFAA’s members, Munier said “I share their passion for our work,” adding that “one of the recurring themes I continue to hit on is that this work is not just what we do, it’s who we are.”

TN: How long have you worked in financial aid and how did you get your start?

CM: I began as a graduate assistant at Iowa State University in 1982 after having worked in admissions for six years at a private, liberal arts college and a community college, both in Iowa.

I am one of the few people that actually aspired to be in this business. I worked in admissions for six years and through that got into financial aid and recognized that that was my true passion. I came from a modest background but was fortunate to come from a family that made it clear that their children were going to go to college. I went to college and found that it changed my life and thought how unfair it would have been to not have that advantage. Helping other people achieve their higher education goals appealed to me.

TN: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the federal programs right now?

CM: The erosion of the American middle-class at the same time that we’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced that we’re over-taxed. Also, the growing but misguided belief that no one should have to pay for anything that doesn’t benefit them or members of their immediate family. That seems anti-society to me.

TN: What are your top three goals for your chairmanship of NASFAA?

CM: One, encourage financial aid professionals to engage national, state, and institutional policy makers at higher levels on issues like economics, the growing demand on the financial aid office, and concerns that we may be “giving up” on equal access to higher education. Clearly financial aid administrators and NASFAA are not going to be able to do anything about that, but we need to have that conversation with the people who can.

Two, explore the development of a “social responsibility” index that recognizes institutions that meet objective measures of commitment to the principles for which NASFAA stands: access, first-generation, diversity, and opportunity.

And three, examining an electronic solution to the national policy concern over “standardization” of financial aid award letters.

TN: Who has been the biggest professional influence for you over the years, and why?

CM: There have been many. I remember watching in awe some of the early pioneers in our profession. I’ve been privileged to have several opportunities to meet Allan Purdy, for example.

The single most important person, however, was Dr. Orlo Austin, the former director of student financial aid at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with whom I had the privilege to work for 11 years. A product of the National Defense Education Act himself, he was one of the best examples of why our federal financial aid programs are so critically important.

All through history there are many instances where people in authority and power have sought to control access to higher education for a majority of the people. In this country, it is the first time that I am aware that a society has tried to open up higher education to a broad population of people–and that is possible through financial aid.

TN: What is the best professional advice you have been given?

CM: Stay committed to the basic principles of what we are about. Continue to remain passionate about being of service to others. Put students first… always.

TN: If you had a superpower what would it be?

CM: I have four grandchildren under the age of six. I want one-tenth of their energy!

TN: Favorite movie?

CM: OK, now I’m going to date myself. “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Cool Hand Luke,” and “Papillon.” I love the underdog and I think that’s one thing those three movies have in common.

TN: Chocolate or vanilla?

CM: Ha! Well, in the summer I love a vanilla cone dipped in chocolate. What’s that tell you?

TN: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

CM: Paris and all of France. I love Paris. The food, the art, everything. But, what I most want to do someday is ride my bicycle throughout France. Eating baguettes, sampling French cheeses and wines, eating French cuisine…

TN: You can have dinner with three celebrities, dead or alive. Who are they?

CM: Stephen Hawking, former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge; Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley; and Barack Obama, 44th and current President of the United States.

For more on Munier’s plans for his time as National Chair, watch his speech at the 2013 National Conference. Be sure to leave your welcome, comments, and congratulations to Munier in the comments section below!

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