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Admissions, Financial Aid, and cashier offices change buildings

The new Admissions and Financial Aid building is ready for the offices to start moving in. Photo by Andrew Tucker

This week, the Grinnell College Cashier, and Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid made the move from the John Chrystal Center (JCC) to the new Admissions and Financial Aid (AFA) building. While it may have come as a surprise to students, the transition has been several years in the making, according to Joseph Bagnoli, vice president of enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid.

The move occurred this week for a very specific purpose: application season starts in just a few weeks and will last until mid-March. Since the building is close to finished, staff can begin moving into the new offices and settle down before they begin to process applications for the next admission cycle.

The prospect of moving to a new building arose from research done by the Grinnell Visit Experience Taskforce, or G-VET, which formed in 2013 and aimed to investigate “why Grinnell had an unusually low visitor-to-applicant conversion rate and a low enrollment yield rate on offers of admission,” Bagnoli wrote in an email to The S&B. That task force revealed extensive information regarding the application process that resulted in the implementation of several new initiatives by Grinnell staff, including “three independent evaluations [that] revealed a less-than-favorable assessment of the John Chrystal Center.”

According to Bagnoli, the task force believed that “the southwest entry to campus lacked the kind of ceremonial arrival point typical of peer colleges” and that it was “too far from the campus center or the ‘intellectual heartbeat of the College,’” making it an inauspicious place to start a campus tour. One consultant, Bagnoli wrote, remarked that the building was “out of step with Grinnell’s less formal campus culture.”

Comments regarding problems with the JCC as the starting point for campus tours were prevalent throughout the task force’s evaluation. These problems ranged from the fact that the view from the JCC is of the Bucksbaum loading dock to the feeling that the JCC is “more like an office building than a place to welcome students and their families.”

Another adviser pointed out that the JCC was “a beautiful administrative building that doesn’t function well as an admission office.” As an example, Bagnoli explained that the JCC has no dedicated space for information sessions; as a result, the college has previously had to use a room in the basement of the building for that purpose.

While administrators considered making modifications to the JCC, they ultimately decided that a fresh start would be the most effective way to shift application trends.

“After conferring with an architect who has worked on several of our campus buildings, we concluded that there were few low-cost opportunities for modification,” he wrote. “The Board of Trustees concluded that a new building in a better location could better serve our needs while opening up valuable space in the JCC to accommodate an office that would function well in it.”

Brad Lindberg, Grinnell’s Assistant Vice President for Enrollment and Director of Financial Aid, explained the function of the new Student Financial Services Office, which combines the offices of financial aid and the cashier. Lindberg wrote in an email to The S&B that the combined office is intended to make it quicker and easier for students to receive finance-related services.

“While still keeping our distinct identities, we will share a combined space and will be working to answer questions regarding student billing and financial aid without requiring students to ‘line hop.’”

The JCC building will still serve an important role for students on campus. After the move to the new building, it is set to host the Center for Careers, Life, and Services, which currently resides in four separate buildings on campus. The JCC, he explained, is well-suited as “a space for hosting prospective employers, exploratory advising, our seven new career communities, and the students served through these programs.”

The new Admissions and Financial Aid building is ready for the offices to start moving in. Photo by Andrew Tucker
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  • L

    LaAnna FNov 2, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    The Registrar’s office actually has not moved! They are staying in JCC and will be joined by the CLS.

  • P

    Pam SittigNov 2, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Please note, the Registrar’s Office did not move to the new Admission and Student Financial Services building. It continues to be located in the John Chrystal Center.