Admissions office sees wave of change

It was a summer of turn-over in the Admissions and Financial Aid offices as former Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw announced his leave only days after Director of Financial Aid Myra Smith said she was taking a job on a more national level. While Shaw’s replacement was announced just recently, the admissions office appointed Caesar Storlazzi ’75 MUS ’84, a veteran of the Yale financial aid office, to be the University’s director of financial aid shortly after Smith’s June departure.

Storlazzi replaced Smith, who left the University in June to serve as national executive director of financial aid services for the College Board. Before taking the helm of Student Financial Services on July 1, Storlazzi served in the number two slot at the office as senior associate director. A long-standing employee of the Yale financial aid office — Storlazzi has worked in the office since 1979 when he was hired as a financial aid officer — the former Sillimander said he has been settling well into his new position and looks forward to the work that lies ahead of him.

“It’s been great,” Storlazzi said. “There’s a fantastic staff here, it’s made the transition easy. We’re always exploring ways we can improve financial aid, especially for Yale College and that’s an ongoing concern for us. We’re aware of students’ concerns for student-effort levels, one of the things we are considering”

Storlazzi said he worked at the Yale Collection department while he was a student at Yale College — a job which he said he continued after his graduation. During his undergraduate years at Yale, Storlazzi himself was on financial aid, an experience which he thinks makes him well-prepared for his current position, he said.

“It was difficult, but I wouldn’t give up that experience for a second,” Storlazzi said. “I think it gives me a viewpoint having been in that position to really understand the issues of being a student on financial aid.”

Smith said she decided to leave the University after having served for nearly five years as Yale’s director of financial aid because she thought the position she was offered at the College Board was a good opportunity. In her new job, Smith is in charge of developing financial aid tools for universities and training financial aid professionals.

“It was my decision to leave to take this job because of the opportunity it presented,” Smith said. “I really believe in need-based financial aid and it was an opportunity to move that philosophy to a national arena. It didn’t have to do with Yale; it was a professional decision on my part.”

During Smith’s time at Yale, the University made several sweeping changes to its financial aid policy. Last spring, Yale eliminated the parent contribution for students from families earning under $45,000 and reduced it for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000.

Smith’s departure came just days before Shaw accepted a job as the head of Stanford University’s admissions office. Shaw was temporarily replaced by Margit Dahl ’75 and ultimately succeeded by Jeffrey Brenzel, also from the Class of 1975, who served as executive director of the Association of Yale Alumni. Coincidentally, Storlazzi graduated from Yale in 1975 as well.

Although both of Yale’s highest ranking admissions and financial aid administrators left the University almost simultaneously, the timing of the departures is probably coincidental, national experts said, and they do not foresee Yale having any difficulties in the coming admissions cycle due to the recent turnovers.

“It happens by accident from time to time, and I’m not sure it should be over interpreted,” said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

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