June 30, 2017

Doug Tanner Earns Donald E. Payton Award for Lifetime Achievement

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Doug Tanner is the recipient of the Donald E. Payton Award for Lifetime Achievement.
The Donald E. Payton Award for Lifetime Achievement is awarded by the Georgia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (GASFAA). Only those individuals who have been members of the association for 15 or more years, demonstrated significant and consistent contributions to the student financial aid field, and served as leaders in community and institutional affairs are eligible for the award.
“Receiving the Donald E. Payton Award for Lifetime Achievement was definitely the greatest honor I can imagine and was a huge surprise,” said Tanner, who serves as the director of the Office of Financial Aid at VSU. “Like any state professional organization, the GASFAA survives and prospers only to the extent that its members volunteer to serve and lead. As a GASFAA member, I have never passed up the opportunity to serve in whatever capacity is needed at that time.
“I sincerely appreciate the ... acknowledgement of my contributions to GASFAA and the financial aid profession here in Georgia. It is always nice to be honored by those who work closest with you and know the struggles and hardships that you face daily in your profession.”
Tanner joined Blazer Nation as a student in 1987. A year later, he began working part-time as a student employee in the Office of Financial Aid’s Veterans Affairs Work-Study Program. Having previously served for four years in the United States Army — he went on to serve 20 years of active and reserve service with the Georgia Army National Guard — he enjoyed helping veterans secure the funding to pursue their academic goals. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in economics from Valdosta State College in 1991.
After earning a Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University in 1994, Tanner returned to VSU’s Office of Financial Aid as the manager of operations. He began serving as director in 2002.
“The best part of working in financial aid is helping students achieve their educational goals,” he said.
As director, Tanner oversees the Office of Financial Aid and supervises more than 30 staff members. He could not have achieved this award if not for the support of the people he has worked with over the years.
“Mr. Tanner has taught me most of what I know about financial aid,” said Donnell S. Davis Jr., assistant director of financial aid scholarships and federal work-study.  “Throughout my years here, he has been my mentor, a supporter, and a great asset to our office. A true mentor gives individuals the opportunity to try and fail but also asks what you learned in the process. That is what he does. His knowledge and understanding of what we do and how that influences many other parts of the institution is amazing. Not only does he work to make VSU better, but he also helps other institutions and shares his knowledge with them so that their processes work better. I can honestly say that I have never met a person more dedicated to the success of our students.”
Tanner and his wife, Kimberly, who retired from VSU’s Access Office in January after more than 20 years of service, have been married for 11 years. They recently adopted a boy, Ryan, 4, from Tianjin, China.
Tanner enjoys volunteering at Unitarian Universalist Church of Valdosta, serving with Habitat for Humanity, and woodworking. He previously served as president of the GASFAA from 2010-2011.
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