Task force begins assessing process behind scholarship distribution

President Denise Battles called for the creation of the Scholarship Workflow Task Force at the beginning of the academic year. This task force will analyze the way Geneseo manages scholarships and whether it can implement new standards of procedure. 

The SWTF primarily relies on cooperation with academic and administrative departments involved in allocating and distributing scholarships. This collaboration is meant to create an improved system of managing the scholarship process, from finances to donor relations, according to Vice President for Enrollment Management and SWTF Co-Chair Meaghan Arena. 

“We’re looking about how different departments relate to each other in the process of establishing and awarding scholarships,” Vice-President for College Advancement and SWTF Co-Chair K. Johnson Bowles said. “It’s about process because there are many different departments that are involved in coordinating scholarships, so it’s to make sure that our process is sound.” 

Arena and Bowles lead the committee while seven staff members and six faculty members make up the rest of the participants, according to Arena. Academic representatives include professor of chemistry David Johnson, associate professor and chair of the communication department Andrew Herman and associate professor and chair of the philosophy department David Levy. Additionally, lecturer of music Don Kot, associate professor of literacy in the Ella Cline Shear School of Education Cheryl Kreutter and Director of Student Services in the School of Business Delbert Brown are on the committee. 

From the administrative side, Director of Student Accounts Sandra Argentieri, Director of Donor Relations Suzanne Boor, Assistant Director of Accounting Services Susan Crilly, Director of Admissions Kimberly Harvey, Director of Advancement Services Lynn Myers, Assistant Dean of Students for Multicultural Programs and Services Fatima Rodriguez Johnson and Director of Financial Aid Susan Romano also serve on the taskforce. 

The committee meets on a regular basis and is tasked with drafting a report for Battles by the end of October of the following year, according to Arena. Battles will then decide what to do with the task-force’s recommendation. Their focus will likely revolve around streamlining the process that different stakeholders at the college take to acquire and distribute scholarship monies, according to Arena. 

“College Advancement works with the donor to establish a scholarship and then we create what’s called a gift agreement that says what the intent is, and then we establish funds,” Bowles said. “Once we have the money and we have a gift agreement whereby we abide by whatever the donor agreed to, then we have to figure out the process of awarding.” 

The steps after this can become complicated in terms of working to fulfill guidelines provided by the donor as well as protecting the privacy of students, according to Arena. Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the college is not allowed to share financial information with those who judge scholarship applicants. This rule makes it difficult for scholarships that take financial need into account, according to Bowles. 

The committee will not deal with the allocation and distribution of scholarships, as well as who receives them. These responsibilities are delegated to individual departments, according to Bowles.

The current process of scholarship distribution is effective, according to the recipient of the college’s Regal Scholarship sophomore Justin D’Souza said. The task force will not have much student involvement, but serves as a way for the college to evaluate its policies, according to Bowles. 

“We’re trying to see what people do and then find the gaps and then see where we need improvement,” Bowles said. “We just want to serve the students better and make sure that every dollar that we do have is wisely utilized on behalf of the students.” 

The college hopes to create a more effective system to clearly define what has to be done and even have more money available for students, according to Bowles. She similarly emphasized the role of transparency and clarity in the scholarship process for donors, applicants and scholarship distributors.  

“We’re in an era where there’s so much competition for the top students,” Arena said. “Geneseo’s a great competitor in that landscape but I would like to see us find a way to make sure that we’re using all of our funds efficiently so that we can get the most money to the most students.”


News editor Malachy Dempsey contributed reporting to this article.u