NASFAA Mourns the Loss of Edson Sample

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

Edson SampleIt is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Edson W. Sample, a longtime director of financial aid at Indiana University, a "founding father" of NASFAA, and a long-standing mentor to many leaders and members of the association.

Edson passed away in early December 2022.

Edson's contributions to the financial aid profession have been more than generous throughout his life and were demonstrated by his many leadership and advisory roles. As a tireless advocate, he endlessly contributed to professional development and was instrumentally involved in formulating many of the resources we rely on today.

With Edson's steady leadership, NASFAA has been given the foundational fortitude needed to serve the profession. Edson gave our association a storied history and was paramount in engaging a new generation of leaders who have undoubtedly all been touched by his manner-of-fact delivery that we all grew to cherish.

His contributions to the profession, which began at Indiana University (IU) in its Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid in 1961, were significant and numerous — as are the awards he received in recognition of that work.

Prior to his retirement in 1990, Edson spent his career working in the aid office at IU, where he was perhaps most well known for donating funds to build the iconic Sample Gates on the Bloomington campus, which he dedicated to his parents, Louise Waite Sample and Kimsey Ownbey Sample, Sr.

Edson's generosity didn't end there; he also made a significant $50,000 donation to the Dallas Martin Endowment several years ago, helping to pave the way for the endowment to exist into perpetuity.

Edson at 50th Anniversary Gala

Throughout his career, Edson was deeply involved in advancing the financial aid profession, and had a large hand in the creation of our national association. He served as national chair of NASFAA — a position at the time termed "president" — from 1974-75 and spearheaded a number of initiatives over the years, such as the Journal of Student Financial Aid and the NASFAA Fact Book. Edson chaired the first Leadership & Legislative Conference, which to this day is still held at Washington, D.C.'s Mayflower Hotel, and championed the creation of NASFAA's "Federal Monitor," which could be considered an early precursor to Today's News and for the NASFAA Hotline – both very useful techniques for providing information to the NASFAA membership.

It was during the period around Edson's time as president that NASFAA began its actions to move from a dues structure based on individual memberships to one based on institutional dues. He has chaired and served on numerous NASFAA committees.

Edson also served as the president of MASFAA from 1969-70 where during his term as president, the association assumed sponsorship of its own training workshop, established the Distinguished Service Award to recognize outstanding financial aid administrators, published its first monograph, and began the tradition of providing pocket calendars, which serve each day as a reminder of one's membership in a professional association.

Over the years, Edson was awarded NASFAA's Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award, in 1975, the Lifetime Achievement Award (previously called the "Lifetime Membership Award"), in 1990, as well as the Meritorious Achievement Award in 1981.

Edson left a deep impression on all those who had the privilege of working with him through the years.

Edson Sample

NASFAA President and CEO Justin Draeger recounted Edson's dedication to student aid advocacy, even long after his retirement.

"Personally, Edson invited me and then National Chair Dan Mann to tour Indiana University several years ago. It was an extraordinarily fantastic day, filled with meetings with campus leaders and recollections from Edson about the history and future of our profession. He was not shy about sharing his opinion! And for that I was always grateful," Draeger said.  "As one of our profession's forefathers, Edson set the standard for selfless and dedicated services."

Those sentiments were also carried by professionals like ISFAA president Lisa M. Bridgewater, FAAC® who serves as the associate director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She recalled Edson as "our father of financial aid."

"Edson is one of the people that helped us get to where we needed to be for ISFAA. He was well researched and well known. He loved the profession, and everything we do today is because of his leadership from 20-30 years ago," Bridgewater said. "ISFAA is stronger because of him — the impact he has made will forever serve as a reflection of his legacy. "

Edson's impact on those in the profession was far-reaching, with other current leaders recounting how his influence touched on the entirety of their higher education journey.

"I am grateful for Mr. Sample's role in the early development of our association," said Craig Slaughter, FAAC®, director of financial aid at Kenyon College and current MASFAA president. "As a graduate student [at Indiana University] walking past Sample Gates on the Bloomington campus, I had no idea at the time who Mr. Sample was and what impact his legacy would have on my future development as a professional."

Slaughter recounted how Edson was instrumental in creating what we now know as MASFAA's Summer Institute and served our profession in so many ways at the state, regional, and national levels.

"I know that my colleagues in the Midwest will join me with a heartfelt ‘thank you' to Edson Sample, who helped pave the way to professionalize the important work that we do serving students every day," Slaughter said.

Edson was also known for his dedication to his staff and colleagues alike, especially within the Midwest region.

"Well Edson and I have been ‘frenemies' for many years," said Richard Tombaugh, a former director of financial aid at Purdue University and NASFAA leader, referring to their respective institutions' rivalries. "We were friends in the profession, certainly. Edson was 99% dedicated to his profession and to his colleagues. He never forgot that it was a people organization and always felt the strength of the organization was its people."

NASFAA is grateful for the profound impact Edson has had on the financial aid community as a whole. Our sincerest condolences and best wishes go out to Edson's family and friends. He will be sorely missed.

If you have memories of Edson and his work in the profession, please share them in the comments below.


Publication Date: 1/18/2023

William S | 1/18/2023 8:37:13 AM

I couldn't agree more with the comments noted above. Edson was so passionate and supportive of our profession while he was active and just as much after he retired. Over the years I was fortunate enough to have many conversations with Edson and was always left better off after these encounters. I wish we had recorded and preserved many of our conversations for many to benefit from in the future. His contributions we benefit from now are almost incalculable. Thanks Edson !

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