Case Study: University of Tennessee Health Science Center

October 2019 through February 2021



To stabilize financial aid operations and improve customer service to students


Anthony Ferrara, Chief Financial Officer at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), reached out to Blue Icon Advisors to discuss challenges in the Financial Aid Office. Not only had the office experienced significant staff turnover, it no longer had a financial aid director, and the remaining staff needed additional financial aid training.

Blue Icon was asked to explore options for evaluating the compliance, operations, and customer service in the Financial Aid Office with the goal of improving each as quickly as possible. Timing was critical, as the school wanted to make operational changes to affect spring 2020 enrollments and the fall 2020 recruiting cycle.


Blue Icon provided a two-part proposal that was resource intensive, allowing the school to make quick changes with the highest impact to student service and operational efficiency, while also preparing the Financial Aid Office for new leadership.

In Fall 2019, two Blue Icon consultants performed an on-site evaluation, reviewing institutional and departmental documents, conducting student and staff surveys, and meeting with key stakeholders. On the final day of the campus visit, the consultants presented their observations and recommendations to the leadership, at the school's request.

After the on-site evaluation, a Blue Icon consultant was temporarily installed at the school as the interim financial aid director. During the next 12 months, the full-time consultant oversaw financial aid operations, but also served as a "change agent," addressing every challenge identified in the original presentation to leadership. At the end of the yearlong engagement, the consultant provided a full report documenting the progress and making recommendations for the new, permanent director.


The consultant's strategies resulted in a trained staff, improved customer service, documented procedures, operational improvements, and compliant practices. Mr. Ferrara noted, "The transformation of the financial aid operations by the Blue Icon consultant made a dramatic difference to our students." The strategic work to develop staff, correct compliance deficiencies, and provide daily support for key financial aid decisions prepared the office for the permanent financial aid director. November 2020, at Blue Icon's recommendation, Napier Executive Search was hired to conduct a search for the permanent director who began March 2021. Blue Icon is providing executive coaching services to the new director for up to one year.


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Publication Date: 3/31/2021

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