Jessica Ayres, director of financial aid at Palo Alto University (PAU), thoroughly prepared her staff and colleagues for the Standards of Excellence (SOE) review by explaining the purpose and benefits of the evaluation. The SOE review helps schools resolve compliance issues in a non-punitive manner and the peer reviewers provide input on implementing best practices to improve efficiency, operations, and ultimately, service to students. She articulated across campus the importance of being transparent and honest to receive an accurate assessment.
Ayers thought she might be intimidated by the SOE review team members, but was quickly put at ease by their friendly and fun manner. Having fellow financial aid administrators, who deal with the same issues she does on day-to-day basis, perform the review alleviated any lingering concerns. What really made them shine, though, was their ability to identify issues and translate policy in an understandable way.
The combination of PAU’s preparation for the review and willingness to openly share its processes with the team, coupled with the team’s ability to clearly articulate the importance of adhering to the rules and ways to make key improvements, resulted in strategic shifts to benefit the school and students.
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Publication Date: 2/13/2018