Jake Kaufmann ’93 stepped into his role as the College’s director of financial aid Monday vowing to Harvard’s socioeconomic diversity and “open doors for students."
Kaufmann took over from Sally C. Donahue, who retired after serving 18 years in the role.
Kaufmann said Donahue’s leadership created an “incredible foundation” for the office. He said he is particularly excited for the “opportunity to continue that incredible work we’ve done so far.”
“There’s always more to do, there are always more doors to open, more barriers to remove for students and families,” he said.
After graduating from the College, Kaufmann worked as a consultant with Bain & Company and the Bridgespan Group. He also worked as a dean, teacher, and theater director at the Roxbury Latin School, an independent boys’ day school.
Eventually, he returned to Cambridge and earned a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education in 2005. Since then, he has served in the Office of Admissions of Financial Aid as both an associate director of financial aid and as a senior admissions officer.
Kaufmann says his agenda for the first few months will be to “take a step back” as he jumps into his new role.
“I think right now the most important thing I can go for the next little while is to listen and learn,” Kaufmann said.
In his previous work with the financial aid office, Kaufmann oversaw the financial aid application process for prospective students and directed the process for distributing need-based aid. He also chaired a regional subcommittee for the admissions office.
Kaufmann believes “there’s a perception problem and a reality problem” that impacts the “nuanced” state of financial aid in higher education.
“There’s a lot of financial aid out there and students are making it work, but there are some real challenges,” Kaufmann said. “I think continuing to have that national conversation around affordability, around access, is incredibly important.”
—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @delanofranklin_.
—Staff writer Samuel W. Zwickel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @samuel_zwickel.