Jerry Sullivan Honored at Annual Meeting Opening Session

Jerry Sullivan, AACRAO Executive Director from 1998 to 2012, was honored at the 98thAnnual Meeting in Philadelphia in recognition of his retirement and service to AACRAO. BillHaid, a Past President of AACRAO, presented remarks on behalf of current and formerAACRAO members at the Opening Session. His remarks are excerpted here.

"It is an honor and a privilege to present this tribute to Jerry Sullivan, Executive Director of AACRAO since 1998 and my colleague and friend since 1990.

"Careers in higher education administration often take unusual routes.  Many of us here could tell our own story of how we ended up where we are.  However, Jerry’s story has a particularly interesting twist that has brought us to where we are tonight.  Jerry’s career in higher education began in 1966 at the University of Maine, and includes key appointments at Kent State University, Iowa State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was among the early advocates of administrative process reengineering in higher education, and developed a national reputation for innovative uses of information technology to streamline service delivery on campuses where he worked. His contributions in this area resulted in a one-year appointment in 1995 to the U.S. Department of Education to lead the reengineering of the federal government’s student financial aid delivery system.

"I first met Jerry at the University of Colorado in Boulder where he was already the Director of Financial Aid when I arrived there as Registrar.  From very early on, Jerry and I became friends and co-conspirators for advancing student services as we worked closely in Enrollment Services, and, by the way, survived 5 leadership changes in 8 years.   I always looked to him for advice and counsel on how to navigate the waters of UC Boulder’s administrative levels.  I always valued working with Jerry to advocate for some new automated service or enhancement in process or procedure.  We were just getting to online enrollment in those days.  I was especially envious of Jerry’s super-advanced office environment in the basement of some old building on the Boulder campus.  He had literally turned that space into a working paradise that included TV monitors playing first run movies for students in the lobby area, and consistently had very high student and staff satisfaction levels.  He was an innovator in those days and often thought just outside the box.  That’s who Jerry was when I first met him.  He hasn’t changed in too many ways since those days. 

"At AACRAO Jerry has brought stability, innovation, and vision to our association.  Jerry had spent a year at the Department of Education in 1995 to lead in the streamlining of the student aid delivery system which was the forerunner of Direct Lending.  He returned to Colorado to be one of the first institutions in the country to adopt Direct Lending.  I was on the Board of Directors and serving as President Elect when Jerry learned from me of the opening for Executive Director position at AACRAO in 1998.  We had several discussions and he grew very interested in taking his skills to an entirely different level.  Already having a national reputation in the Financial Aid world, it wasn’t too much of a stretch for a visionary like Jerry to see the needs for leadership at AACRAO and to chart out a path that would become the model for Association Leadership.  Jerry hired great staff at all levels and set AACRAO on a path toward sustainability and increased value for its members with products, services, and influence in higher education interests at the Federal level.  Jerry guided AACRAO through very lean years and completely turned around the financial position of the association to the one we enjoy now of fiscal strength.  During Jerry’s  tenure, AACRAO has focused its attention on electronic standards, privacy issues in higher education, distance education, comparative international education research and transfer credit.

"It hardly seems possible that it has been 14 years and a Centennial Celebration of AACRAO under Jerry’s leadership that brings us to this time of gratitude and appreciation for Jerry Sullivan’s service to AACRAO and his well-deserved transition to retirement.  Jerry will always be my friend and I will forever cherish that relationship.  I salute him for his stewardship of the Association I love and his incredible leadership that has made AACRAO what it is today.

"Congratulations to Jerry Sullivan on his retirement from AACRAO."