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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Kathy Purvis, Current President of the Midwest Association of Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA)

September 20, 2011

Kathy Purvis,Director of Financial Aid at the University Purdue University – Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Current President of Midwest Association of Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA)

Raina Chezem: What has been most rewarding for you as 2010-2011 MASFAA President?

Kathy Purvis: The most rewarding part has been meeting so many awesome people in all the states.  I have felt so welcomed at each conference and have been able to experience all the best practices and variety that we have in the MASFAA region.   

Raina: As the outgoing President of MASFAA, are you a little relieved it’s over and were you able to accomplish the goals you set out to do?

Kathy: I am excited for the upcoming conference and the opportunity to turn the gavel over to Paula Luff as incoming President.  It has been a rewarding year and the one task that I needed to accomplish was completing the strategic long range plan for MASFAA.  Thanks to the great collaborative work with several MASFAA colleagues, I can say that the goal was met. 

Raina: What advice or recommendations do you have for the incoming MASFAA President?

Kathy: Paula Luff is going to be a fantastic President of MASFAA.  My advice to her is to enjoy every moment because the year will really pass quickly.   Take advantage of your time with each of the states because there is so many talented and passionate financial aid individuals in the MASFAA region, and you can’t imagine how this experience will impact you personally and professionally.   

Raina: How did you get started in financial aid and how long have you been in this profession?

Kathy: I started at Indiana University East right after getting married in 1983.  I was working for the Budget Officer for the campus and there was a higher paid position that opened up in financial aid and I strictly applied for more money…..I had no idea what financial aid was…..so like many of us, I did not grow up wanting to be a financial aid officer, I just lucked into the profession.  I was at IU East for a few years and then my husband was transferred to the Bloomington area and so I was able to move to the IU Bloomington campus.  Once again, my husband then got another transfered to Indianapolis and in 1985 I started at IUPUI.  I have been with Indiana University for over 28 years.      

Raina: What changes did you implement at IUPUI that you feel really good about?

Kathy: I am very proud of the changes that have been made to move our front facing services from just financial aid to a one stop shop for financial aid and bursar.  We provide a service to students who have questions about anything financial during their time at IUPUI.  When we made the decision to move to this model, we really did not have anyone to compare ourselves to and discover best practices, because there were very few models to pattern after.  I am proud to say this model has been very successful at IUPUI.

Raina: Who has been a mentor?

Kathy: I have had a few mentors along the way in my career.  Barb Thompson was the Director of Financial Aid At IUPUI before leaving in 2003 and she encouraged me to think outside the box when it came to delivering financial aid to the students at IUPUI.  I admired her positive energy and her compassion for the students and her spirit when working with staff.  I was encouraged by her “half full” attitude and I was influenced by this and I credit her helping me to be more “half full” thinking.

My other mentor was Susan Pugh.  Once you work for Susan Pugh you always have someone in your corner.  When I became Director at IUPUI in 2003, she was always there to answer my questions.  She made sure she shared tips and suggestions on how to be a successful Director.  I really had not come out of my shell until Susan encouraged me to become involved in professional activities outside of IU.  She got me involved with financial aid leaders across the United States and opened up a whole new world for me and I don’t think I would have even considered be active in MASFAA, let alone President, without Susan’s encouragement.          

Raina: I know you are a big NASCAR fan.  What do you think about Danica Patrick racing in NASCAR?

Kathy: Yes, I love NASCAR and I am and always will be a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan first and foremost.  I think Danica is a good race car driver and I think it is exciting to see a female out there with the good ol boys ……. It will be interesting to see her run a full schedule in the Nationwide series and then a limited schedule in the Sprint cup……I wouldn’t mind her doing well…..but I want Jr to do better J

Raina: What is something people may not know about you?

Kathy: This is a difficult question because I am a person who is open to sharing things about myself.  I guess the one thing that folks may not know is I have a very special friend named Walter. A year ago I had a serious health scare and had to have one of my kidneys removed.  Luckily, it was not cancer.  At the time my staff decided that my good kidney needed a name, so they named him Walter.  When I went into surgery I shared with my doc that my staff has named my kidney and that I wanted him to be good to Walter.  To this day, my doc still refers to him as Walter.  I find that humor can help you through anything.  But out of that experience I have realized that you can live with one kidney and I wish more individuals would consider kidney donation because there are a lot of folks who need transplants. 

Raina: You’ve recently announced you will be moving to Texas in a new position at DeVry University in October…I wish you the very best in this new endeavor.  Indiana and the rest of the Midwest will miss your expertise and leadership

Raina Chezem, Midwest Regional Director (IL, IN, MN)

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