The History of WASFAA


"In the Beginning"
WASFAA's Birth as An Association
By: Dan Messersmith

First came the proposal, not an original idea, but indeed an idea for which time had come.

At a meeting of the Committee on Financial Aid, of the Regional Western Membership of the College Scholarship Service, on March 10, 1966, the following proposal was made.

"The Committee discussed the proposal for a Western Regional Assembly of the CSS. A Regional Assembly would parallel the CSS Assembly with committee members elected by the Assembly rather than appointed by the Executive Committee of the Western Regional Membership. The Primary advantage of such an Assembly would be the formation of a professional association of financial aid officers which might counter-act a proliferation of financial aid associations."

It would take an additional twenty-one months for this seed of an idea to germinate, and one can well imagine the cussin' and discussion that went on during that period as the idea was not without its critics.

On December 18, 1967, a "call-to-arms" was issued by Dr. Robert L. McCleery, to organize and "exploratory" meeting to form "some sort of western regional affiliation." "now!" He and a number of financial aid officers had met in Reno, Nevada on December 15, 1967 and discussed the pros and cons of a professional organization. Besides the call to organize, they determined that those best suited to lead this movement were Dr. H. Carroll Parrish, Mrs. Jean Hunt and Mr. Robert P Huff. (One would be hard pressed to question the wisdom of that selection, even without the gift of 20-20 hindsight.)

Parrish, Hunt and Huff were quick to respond and although they had differences of opinions on the organization issue, they put them aside for the good of the proposal. A fair test of the need for a professional organization would not be scuttled by any dissent within this committee.

A letter from Bob Huff went out to all the schools on the CSS service roster and to as many of the non-CSS affiliates that could be identified on short notice. The letter was an invitation to attend a breakfast meeting on January 16, 1968 at the Western Assembly of the College Scholarship Service in Portland, Oregon. The topic of discussion would be, "whether a organization should be established or whether the Western Assembly should be reconstructed and converted into such an organization."

That meeting created more questions than answers as is usual for controversial topics. Most of the questions revolved around the current and future role of CSS and the Western Assembly.

"What is the broad role of the Western Assembly? Is it merely a forum as the present bylaws indicate or is it to have a more positive and influential role in the formulation of CSS policy? Should CSS serve as a professional financial aid officers' organization, serving the needs of individual financial aid officers, charging individual membership and representing the western states in the National Council of Financial Aid Officers 3/4 or should it remain an educational organization serving institutions?" (From a letter by William L Baker to H., Carroll Parrish.)

Using these and other provocative questions to guide them, the CSS Western Assembly's Committee on Nominations, Membership and Bylaws set forth to consider, review and resolve the situation.

After months of study, the committee made its recommendation to the Executive Committee of the Western Assembly on September 9, 1968.

It was proposed that: "...a professional association be developed independently of the Western Assembly, and that (H. Carroll Parrish) would prepare a proposed set of bylaws for presentation at the annual meeting in San Francisco in January."

By November, Parrish and William Baker had teamed up and prepared not only a proposed constitution but also a comprehensive survey form with which to test the idea. The constitution and survey were mailed to schools in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. The response was quick and positive.

A total of 128 responses were received from approximately 250 sent. Those favoring establishment out polled the opposition 117 to 10 with 1 undecided. The count approving the proposal constitution was 107 to 2 with 19 undecided. Some of the suggestions and modifications to be ironed out before the January meeting were:
  • Concerns over the authority of the Executive Council.
  • Concerns of school representation on the Executive Council.
  • Exclusion of Secondary School Personnel.
  • Use of the term "Officers" instead of "Administrators."
  • It was suggested that the Membership be extended to Arizona and Nevada.
The survey also provided the proposed association with a name, as the Western Association of Financial Aid Administrators (WASFAA) received 87 votes, while the Pacific Coast Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PACASFAA) gathered only 29. Twelve votes remained undecided.

On January 13, 1969, between the hours of 5 PM and 6 PM, in Continental Ballroom #6 of the San Francisco Hilton, WASFAA was created!

The proposed WASFAA Constitution was adopted, the Constitution of NASFAA was ratified, and officers and delegates to the National Council of NASFAA were elected. As newly elected WASFAA President, William L Baker put it:

"The sixth and final link in the chain of regional professional associations of financial aid administrators was forged." (NASFAA with regional associations EASFAA, MASFAA, RMASFAA and SASFAA had already been formed. After WASFAA, SWASFAA would be added later.)
Rounding out the first WASFAA Executive Council were: H. Carroll Parrish, President Elect; Sumner B. Gambee, Vice President; Jean P. Hunt, Secretary; Lewis E. Dibble, Treasurer; Chuck Herndon, delegate; William E. Rasmussen, delegate; and, Richard T. Wootton, delegate.

Dues were set at $10 per individual membership with half of that amount going to NASFAA to support its programs.

WASFAA had a strong and energetic beginning, one that provided a standard of excellence that has been evident in its twenty-seven years of growth and development.