What’s going on in Finance? A sit-down with Judy Manchester

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By Matt Olson

Students, do you love getting your work-study paycheck every other Friday?

Those $116 go a long way toward the gas tank, books or for a nice weekend. Without the Finance Office, though, none of that may be possible.

I sat down with Senior Director of Financial Services Judy Manchester, to talk about the state of finances at Union. Judy has been at the college for 25 years, and says she hasn’t gotten bored during that time.

“It’s about the students. I love the kids here…everything changes because the students always change,” she said. “It’s always a great environment, which keeps it exciting.”

She says the greatest challenge facing the Finance Office is keeping things such as billing and payroll simple and efficient, while also keeping them cost-friendly.

I must admit, I didn’t really know what the job of the Finance Office was when I walked into my interview with Judy. I didn’t understand why there was a Finance Office as well as an Office of Financial Aid.

Manchester cleared it up by explaining, “Financial Aid is in charge off all of the scholarships given to students. Finance, well we’re sort of like the bad guys. We’re in charge of all of the account balances and account charges. We bill students, then pay the school’s bills.”

Manchester is trying her best to stay on track with the best interests of the college, while making sure not to put the school into major debt.

She has been working close with Ellen Borkowski of Information Technology to eliminate a third-part billing system and to incorporate the billing into the WebAdvising system that is already in place.

Our conversation led us into a discussion about the perceived increase in the number of students enrolled at the college.

Manchester agreed that it does seem like there are more students on campus, even though the numbers show that there are only a few more actually on campus. She says she has been working closely with Director of Dining Services David Gaul in order to think of ways to decrease the lines in many of the dining facilities, while keeping the diverse choice of meal options the way it currently is.

She said, “David and I understood that because Dining Services wished to change the declining balance system before the start of this year, there would be an increase in student interest.  But, until something like that actually happens, you don’t know exactly how bad it might get.”

Manchester has been here since 1988.  When I asked her about the biggest differences between the college then and now, she said, “The student population has become more diverse demographically, which is great to see.  This can partially be attributed to the amount of financial aid the college distributes.”  She also said that an increase in academic quality attributed to this.

When asked about the future of the college, Manchester believes that the methods by which education will be delivered will take greater advantage of the technological advancements of the last few decades.

She thinks learning will stray from “traditional methods” of chalkboard lectures and become more of a balance between the classroom and online.

So the next time you go to Reamer and pull a check out of your mailbox and think of all the fun you’re going to have with the money, also keep in mind the work of the Finance Office.  They play a bigger role than you probably think.

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