Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has selected Mesha Garner, MA, as director of student financial aid through a national search chaired by Kevin Wathen, SIUE director of military and veteran services. Garner assumes her duties on campus Thursday, Oct. 1.
Scott Belobrajdic, EdD, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management said Garner brings critically important experience to SIUE. “Her previous roles as federal awards coordinator and policy manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and financial aid specialist at Illinois State University provide SIUE with valuable insight regarding large campus financial aid operations and efficiencies,” he said. “SIUE’s financial aid office manages more than $180 million in student aid annually. A working knowledge of large-scale operations is critical for the individual in the director’s role.”
A member of UW-Madison’s financial aid team since 2017, Garner was involved in the development and implementation of its Bucky’s Tuition Promise, demonstrating her ability to guide SIUE in the roll out of the SIUE Commitment. “I look forward to leading the SIUE financial aid team for the implementation of the new SIUE Commitment,” Garner said. “This program is a direct reflection of our financial commitment to students and their success. Moreover, we are sending a message that SIUE is accessible and affordable to Illinois students.”
Garner also has a strong history working with marginalized groups on campus, including her role as chair of UW-Madison’s Engagement, Inclusion and Diversity Committee. “I have served on multiple committees, both campus-wide and divisionally, that strategize to hire, recruit and retain employees from marginalized groups,” she said. “Also, I have led a team of professionals to use an equity-based lens for the administration of financial aid to students and decreased mitigators that would prohibit marginalized students from financial access to education. Equity and access are important to me personally and professionally.”
Prior to her arrival in Madison, Garner was a financial aid specialist at ISU from 2012-17.
Garner will lead an experienced SIUE financial aid team that supports undergraduates, graduate students and students enrolled in SIUE professional programs. She succeeds Sally Mullen who retired in May 2020 after serving SIUE for more than 30 years.
SIUE’s student recruitment strategies align with Garner’s goal of creating access to students, which proved attractive to her. “I look forward to building and strengthening campus and community partnerships for the recruitment and retention of students,” she said. “As an Illinois native from Tinley Park, I feel it is our state’s responsibility to prepare the nation’s future leaders for success. To progress towards this goal, I am committed to leading this division with fairness, authenticity, innovation and intention. With these values at our core, I am confident that our goals will not only be met, but also exceeded.”
Garner earned a bachelor’s in family and consumer science and political science, and a master’s in political science/public administration from ISU. She is a currently pursuing a doctorate in education administration at ISU.