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College Financial Aid Director Announces Retirement

By Lu Shao
By Delano R. Franklin, Crimson Staff Writer

Sally C. Donahue, director of financial aid at the College and a senior admissions officer, will retire in August after more than 18 years in her position.

Donahue, who held various posts at the University over the course of 36 years, oversaw the launch of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative—a financial aid program aimed at making the College more affordable for low- and middle-income students. The initiative provides more than half of College students with financial aid and covers full tuition for 20 percent of families.

William R. Fitzsimmons ’67, the dean of admissions and financial aid, announced Donahue’s retirement in an email addressed to his colleagues on Jan. 17.

“Sally’s remarkable contributions will always be valued and remembered, and her kindness, hard work, commitment, and dedication are worthy of great admiration,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “She will be deeply missed.”

He detailed her work at the University and praised her accomplishments from throughout her tenure. “She has made a significant difference in the lives of countless students and their families during her career,” Fitzsimmons wrote.

Prior to directing the financial aid program at the College, Donahue oversaw financial aid at the Kennedy School and Harvard Law School. She has chaired several regional and national financial aid committees, and Fitzsimmons described her as “a national leader of the financial aid profession.”

In an email after the announcement to some of her colleagues at other universities, Donahue wrote she was deeply grateful for her time at Harvard and said that the work she began in the Financial Aid Office remains unfinished.

“This is a remarkably important profession—having the ability to change lives is so meaningful and advocating for the continuing diversification of our student bodies across all categories has been rewarding work,” Donahue wrote. “There is, of course, so much more to be done.”

She added that she would remain working part-time to continue with her admissions responsibilities and to fundraise for the College’s financial aid program. Donahue also solicited candidates for her soon-to-be vacant position in the email, asking colleagues for recommendations for those who might succeed her in a position she described simply as “a great job.”

—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at

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