Lane Smith

Published on August 8, 2016  

Position:  Director of Student Financial Services

Working at Samford since 2007

What is your favorite thing about your job at Samford?  I enjoy meeting people living in the Birmingham area and answering their question, “What do you do?” I take pride in claiming Samford as my employer. Recently, I was at a baseball tournament waiting for a game to wrap up so our boys could hit the field, and one of the other parents who moved here just a year ago asked what I did. When I mentioned Samford, she went on and on about all the great things she had heard about Samford before moving here and how she had discovered them all to be true.

What is one thing your colleagues may not know about you?  I enjoy going to Disney World more than my wife and children. I went for the first time when I was four years old, and I’ve been back once every four years on average since then. I cannot put my finger on why I enjoy it so much, but it is what it is.

What is your favorite activity outside of Samford?  I actually have no hobbies whatsoever. With four children in our lives, we have very little time for hobbies. I do find myself either standing on a sideline coaching or sitting in the stands cheering for my kids in my free time away from work. However, as my children begin to work their way out of youth sports and zeroing in on a few select interests, I hope to find myself standing in a mountain stream learning to fly fish or simply sitting on beach.

How did your background prepare you for your current role at Samford?  I have had the opportunity to serve at a 1,500 student liberal arts college and a 27,000+ student land grant institution. I also have served in varied roles in student activities, annual giving, financial aid and student financial services. Whether it be donor relations and stewardship of scholarship funding, student development and life outside of the classroom, or helping financially distressed students, these varied experiences have allowed me to see university life through several different lenses and use lessons learned along the way to meet the challenge before me.

What, specifically, does your job involve?  I am primarily responsible for overseeing the billing and collecting of more than $152 million in tuition, fees, room and board, and processing and disbursing more than $116 million in financial aid. Thankfully, I have 15 amazingly dedicated team members who make all of this happen day in and day out. They are the ones who do all the heavy lifting making sure all of our “T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted.” Together, we work to put as much information as possible in our students’ hands in order for them to make good financial decisions and meet necessary deadlines.

What is the biggest challenge you face in coordinating Samford’s financial aid processs?   I’ve been at Samford for almost nine years. The Samford I came to know in 2007-08 is nowhere close to the Samford of today, much less the Samford of tomorrow. I have witnessed an awesome amount of growth and innovation as we reach further and do more to provide this world class education. As is the case in most industries, with innovation and expansion comes complexity. Thankfully, the combining of financial aid, loan office and bursar office into one Student Financial Services Office a few years ago has helped in fostering relevant communication internally and externally, which helps us manage the increasing complexity.

 

 

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given and by whom?  It is not per se a word of advice from a specific person directed to me. However, I return to the final verses of I Timothy for some guiding truths that can be applied to managing scholarship funds for Samford, helping individual students make major financial decisions, and even raising my own children. We’ve all been given a “deposit” of one sort or another, it is up to us to guard it with wisdom and strength.  “Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, or by professing it some have swerved from the faith.”

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ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.