Student Financial Services moved back into its newly renovated office space on Thursday in the ground floor of Carnell Hall with the hopes of increasing privacy and improving the workplace environment.
In the service center portion of the office, where students can meet one-on-one with financial aid counselors, each counselor now has a sliding glass door to keep conversations about personal finances private.
“When you’re dealing with a parent or you’re talking about finances, you want privacy, so one of the great things we have is we’ll be able to provide privacy for the students,” said Sandra Mejia, associate director of SFS.
Meet Parmar, a freshman electrical engineering major, said the privacy measures would be beneficial.
“With financial stuff, some people want to be more modest about it,” Parmar said.
Jillian Caldwell, a junior psychology major, hasn’t yet visited the renovated offices, but thinks the changes make it sound nicer.
“Especially because it’s financial aid, people have heavy things they want to say, so privacy is beneficial,” she said.
“I think a more modern, updated office would make for a better experience,” said Megan McCreadie, a senior recreational therapy major. “Having to visit SFS can be stressful, and a better environment with private offices to have a conversation would put me more at ease.”
Mejia said SFS is now working on a new text queuing system, where students could put themselves in line for an appointment without being physically present in the office. The service would inform students of wait times and they could text to cancel or postpone their appointments without losing their spots in line. The new queuing system is yet to be approved, but Mejia hopes it will be available in a few months.
“We’re trying to beef up customer service,” she said. “Students don’t have time to sit and wait in the office and we don’t want that to stop somebody from coming to see us.”
Interim Director of SFS Emilie Van Trieste said she thinks students and parents will feel the difference in the new office design.
The entire office space was gutted floor to ceiling, and everything from the windows to the carpet and the ventilation system were redone. The renovations took nine months and started last July.
As the SFS office is located on the ground floor, the new office walls are all made out of glass and the windows in the outer building walls were replaced to bring in more light. The renovations included replaced carpet, newly painted walls and a hallway that connects Carnell Hall to Wachman.
Van Trieste said she was thrilled with how the renovations turned out.
“It met all the expectations of being more professional and having more privacy included and just being a more welcoming service center,” she said.
The renovations included removing the walls in the office’s call center, where student employees reach out to students and families over phone and email. Van Trieste said it creates a more open and collaborative work environment so the SFS team can do their work effectively and efficiently.
“I think it feels like a happier place,” Mejia said. “The colors, the lighting, the glass, it feels better.”
Student employees were also pleased with the renovations.
“The old office was dreary and a little bit miserable,” said Megan McGovern, a junior marketing major who has worked with SFS for 3 years.
She added the new office space looks cleaner.
“It’s modern and colorful and we come off so coordinated now it will help to invite people over,” Van Trieste said.
“I hope this will help get our name out there and people will come by and chat with us,” she added.
Laura Smythe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.