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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Don Zackary, Dallas Baptist University

August 6, 2010

Don Zackary is the Director of Financial Aid at Dallas Baptist University. When I spoke with Don about completing these questions, I knew he was waiting for a double-lung transplant. Little did I know, the very next day he would receive a call informing him that he needed to report to the hospital as soon as possible. That was April  27. 

Today, Don is breathing without the use of oxygen and is on target to be back to work by June 28. 

–Don Buehrer, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions



Don Zackary, Director of Financial Aid, Dallas Baptist University

Don Buehrer: What are you most proud of with your financial aid office?  

Don Zackary: I am most proud of the enthusiasm of my student employees as they assist other students and my staff’s commitment to make sure their work is done and their loyalty to the university–they set aside their needs to meet the needs of others.  

Buehrer:  What has been the biggest challenge for your office over the past 12 months?  

Zackary:  The biggest challenge has been computer changes due to year-round Pell (worth it) and changes to Direct Lending.  My FFEL lenders have been very helpful, as has the Department of Education. 

Buehrer: Are there any primary or coming trends that you see in the financial aid office?  

Zackary: Customer enhancements, especially communication; focus on individual student debt–reduction and teaching good financial management; loss of school input into what works with our student body by the government’s excessive control. 

Buehrer: Do you have any tips for schools that are transitioning to Direct Lending (or what has been helpful to you as you have made the transition)? 

Zackary: Even though I economically and business-wise believe the Feds to be wrong, we must have an attitude of hope and strive to help students reach their educational goals. 

Buehrer: Who within the financial aid community has been your mentor?  

Zackary: My mentors have been other directors, the TG support team, FFEL lenders and the Texas Coordinating Board, who help do research and put me in contact with others who have the same issues as I do. 

Buehrer: Where do you think schools should focus their efforts with regard to default prevention strategies given the industry’s move to a 3-year CDR model?  

Zackary:  1 – Loann debt management. Debt is not wrong; students borrow excessively and need to work more. 2 – Better per-loan counseling. 3 – Stress personal accountability and responsibility for one’s own debt.

Buehrer: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  

Zackary: Doctor, Indian chief,  bottle washer–we had glass Coke bottles that we would clean and sell. 

Buehrer: What do you like most about your job? 

Zackary: My staff and my students, especially the ones who doubt themselves and then prove that they can succeed. 

Buehrer: What is your favorite book, movie or food?  

Zackary: The Bible, Superman, Mexican food. 

Buehrer: Name a few things that most people do not know about you. 

Zackary: I just had a double-lung transplant, and I plan to be around another 15-20 years; I enjoy doing stained-glass work and camping. 

Buehrer: What is your favorite television show?  

Zackary: Monk

Don Buehrer, Southwestern Regional Director (TX)


One Comment leave one →
  1. Damon permalink
    January 16, 2011 12:36 am

    I am a personal friend of Don Zackary. I am very sad to report that Don passed away today.

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