April 01, 2014

After nearly three decades of service to Susquehanna, Helen Nunn, the woman countless families have relied on for financial aid guidance, retired earlier this academic year. Susquehanna Currents recently talked with the longtime director of financial aid about her career at Susquehanna and what comes next for her.

SC: How would you sum up your time at Susquehanna?
A time of change, during which we saw increased enrollments, better-qualified students with more opportunities, and an elevated use of technology. In my first year at Susquehanna, we had one desktop PC, and we used an Excel spreadsheet (actually called Lotus 1-2-3 at that time) to maintain our “database” of financial aid. It sounds absolutely primitive now.

What do you consider the greatest accomplishment in your career?
Making a Susquehanna education possible for students and families who may not have thought it possible. I know how important the financial considerations can be for families of limited means, and I truly believe Susquehanna is a university that changes lives.

SC: What will you miss most about Susquehanna?
I will miss my colleagues, meeting new students and following their progress, and I’ll miss being part of this great team that is Susquehanna.

SC: Why was it important for you and your partner, Caroll Blank, to leave a lasting legacy at Susquehanna by establishing a scholarship for women who demonstrate a dedication to fairness, equality and social justice?
The endowment was completely Caroll’s idea, but I love it. It permanently ties us to Susquehanna in a very concrete way that supersedes retirement. Who could ask for a better legacy than an endowment that will help future generations of young women to excel at Susquehanna?

SC: In today’s uncertain landscape, how would you advise students and their families to proceed with financial planning for college?
I don’t know how to predict the future, on this topic or any other. The only thing I know for sure is that families should do everything within their power to save and to teach their children the value of money and the importance of saving. This is a great gaping omission in our culture and one which I fervently wish there was the will to change.

SC: What’s next for you?
A bigger garden, a lot more reading, some new recipes and travel in the summer, which for the last 35 years has not been an option. (Folks don’t realize the summertime demands on a financial aid staff, but they are heavy and continuous.) Of course, I am also hoping to stay connected to the university by participating in more campus events.