Leadership transition announced for student financial aid office

The office of student financial aid plans a leadership transition for the end of the current fiscal year.

Roberta Johnson head shot

Roberta Johnson

Roberta Johnson, executive director of student financial aid, will retire from Iowa State next summer. She has served the university with distinction over the last four decades; FY 2023 will mark her 20th year as director and 40th year in the financial aid office.

Chad Olson, senior associate director of student financial aid, has been promoted to director of student financial aid operations, effective Aug. 1. Following Johnson's retirement, he will become the unit's sole director.

Associate vice president for enrollment management Laura Doering said the succession plan provides an opportunity to smoothly transition the administration of aid and projects and maintain momentum in enrollment management.

"Chad has long been an outstanding financial aid leader at Iowa State, helping to administer aid strategically to meet recruitment and retention priorities, managing legislative and regulatory changes, and leading staff," Doering said.

Chad Olson head shot

Chad Olson

Olson earned two degrees from Iowa State, a bachelor's in exercise science and a master's in business administration. He joined the office of student financial aid in 2002 as a student loan coordinator. Subsequent roles included assistant director for student loans, associate director for advising and funds management, and, since 2021, senior associate director.

Olson is recognized nationally for his contributions to the discipline and is the only university employee who has completed the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators' Certified Financial Aid Administrator program.

A tireless advocate for students

Johnson's stewardship of Iowa State's financial aid budget and her commitment to student success and financial literacy positively impacted countless students over the last 40 years.

Johnson began her Iowa State career in August 1982 as a secretary in the financial aid office and rose through the financial aid advising ranks before being named associate director in 2000. She was named interim director in 2003 and the unit's permanent director in 2005.

"Roberta exemplifies the fundamental and strategic role of Iowa State's financial aid programs, and that is to make a high-quality education both accessible and attainable," Doering said.

Johnson also has provided critical leadership in the development of numerous technology solutions to better serve students and families by creating self-serve options and office efficiencies that enabled staff to focus their efforts on helping students and parents navigate the financial planning process. More recently, she administered COVID-19 federal relief funds to 27,000 Cyclone students.