Phyllis K. Bolt Bannister is a native Sooner, born on September 28, 1952 in Spiro, Oklahoma. She was shaped by the love of a large family and by the effects of polio, which she contracted as an infant. She sought education as the way to overcome her physical and economic limits, graduating from University of Oklahoma with a bachelor\'s degree in Political Science in 1974 and a Master\'s degree of Public Administration with honors in 1975.
A lifelong public servant, Phyllis was first employed by the Oklahoma Department of Economic and Community Development as a Planner from 1975 through 1978. She conducted statistical studies and assisted small towns and Native American tribal officials in grant writing, contract monitoring, program administration and assessment activities.
Then Phyllis entered the realm of educational administration when she was hired by the University of Washington to establish a Disabled Student Services Office, offering the full range of services and accommodations for students. To limit costs and leverage community services, Phyllis expanded the existing statewide reader network for blind students to include baccalaureate, master and Ph.D. level texts on tape. She worked with the Seattle Community College District to expand training for American Sign Language Interpreters and with the Washington Department of Transportation to expand handicapped accessible public transportation routes and training for employees.
Based on her administrative experience, she was promoted to head the Office of Student Financial Aid in 1983 to resolve problems with oversight. Under her leadership, the office implemented their first on-line, real-time computer tracking system in compliance with federal, state, and local program requirements. She also successfully argued for expansion of the staff and doubled the off campus contracts with employers to provide career-related job opportunities for UW students throughout the greater Seattle area.
In 1984, Phyllis was hired by the University of Arizona to reform and restructure the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships. Phyllis is the University's first female hired as the Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid. UA was unique in its extensive private scholarship programs, and expectations of the public for unlimited funding and service. Over the course of nearly 20 years in the job, Phyllis and her staff quadrupled the amount of funding provided to students, targeting funds in compliance with all regulations while supporting the changing enrollment management goals of the institution. Meeting goals required additional staff, two total redesign of computer support systems, development and implementation of standard policies and procedures throughout the university, and continuous review. The University prospered through improved relations with donors, perfect reviews with the U.S. Department of Education, reliance by the Arizona Board of Regents on UA for policy rewrites, and opportunities for UA staff to teach our methods to other financial aid professionals nationwide.
Phyllis served on a broad variety of professional and charitable organizations, including the board of Sallie Mae Educational Loan Program, Arizona Educational Loan Program, National Association of Student Financial Aid, Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Arizona Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and the U.A. Scholarship Foundation. She edited national training materials for NASFAA for 8 years, statewide ABOR policies and procedures for 20 years and Sallie Mae/AELP informational and marketing materials for 10 years.
In addition to her financial aid leadership, UA contributions include the Diversity Action Committee; budget cutting committees; recruitment; grad/law/med the COSMOS information system upgrade; the Continuous Improvement Committee; and the UA Foundation Scholarship.