MVP: Most Valuable Professional is an occasional series that features a brief Q&A with a different NASFAA member. Do you know a financial aid colleague with something interesting to say? Send the names of potential future MVPs and a short note about why you're nominating them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Andrew Hammontree. Twenty-five years ago he began serving as a work-study student in the financial aid office at Oklahoma Christian University (OC)—and has been in the profession ever since. While Andrew initially thought he would work in the aid office for a year or two, he was offered a full-time position after he graduated and remained at OC for nine years—holding the titles of scholarship coordinator, financial aid counselor, and finally, associate director of financial aid. Andrew has served as the financial aid director at Francis Tuttle Technology Center since 2006, and says he loves that his school "prides itself on offering innovative approaches to educational delivery," which forces him to "think outside the box and to look at financial aid from angles that I would not have considered if I worked at a more traditional institution."
"Not only has this made me a better financial aid administrator, but it has transformed the way I think about education," Andrew said.
Andrew is currently serving on NASFAA's Board of Directors for the second time, and previously sat on NASFAA's Awards Committee, Nominations and Elections Committee, Webinar Working Group, and Thought Force on Aligning State, Regional & National Efforts. Andrew has also chaired the NASFAA Conference Program Task Force, and the Association Management and New and Aspiring Aid Directors tracks for NASFAA's Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo. Andrew also served on NASFAA's Modernizing Title IV Aid to Accommodate Encourage and Accommodate Innovation in Higher Education Task Force, which recently produced its report. In addition to his contributions to NASFAA, Andrew served two terms as the Southwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SWASFAA) president and one term as the Oklahoma Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (OASFAA) president.
What is one thing you would like to change about the current financial aid system?
The regulations have gotten so complicated that, realistically, no one can be 100% compliant in every single area. There is so much focus on the 1% of what we did wrong, and no attention given to the 99% of things we did right.
How have you seen innovation in your career in financial aid?
I'm thrilled that the subjects of competency-based education and direct assessment are getting more traction at the Department of Education. We still have a long way to go, but at least the conversations are gaining momentum.
What's on your desk right now?
Glad I did it, but wouldn't do it again:
Negotiated rulemaking for gainful employment.
What book have you read recently that you would recommend and why?
I read three to four books per week. Right now I'm reading a 35-volume series of historical novels called "The Morland Dynasty" by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, which covers the period from the Wars of the Roses through the early 20th century from the perspective of a single British family. Fascinating.
What is a fear or obstacle that you have overcome?
I used to be so terrified of failure that I wouldn't try anything new. Now I understand that failure is often a pit stop on the road to success.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?
My idea of a perfect day:
I need three things: a coffee mug that's never empty, my couch, and a stack of library books.
(Photos: Group Visit to the Hill, Trip to Camel Safari in Dubai, Andrew and His Niece, Avery)
Want to say hello to Andrew or reply to something he said? Please leave your remarks in the comments section below. You can also take a look back at our past MVPs to read any you missed the first time around.
Do you know a financial aid colleague with something interesting to say? Send the names of potential future MVPs and a short note about why you're nominating them to email@example.com.
Publication Date: 7/10/2019