Eckman replaces Russo as financial aid officer

Greg+Eckman

Mariah Howland

Greg Eckman

Johnson State College Women’s Basketball Coach Greg Eckman has replaced Tim Russo as a financial aid officer.

Eckman moved to Vermont to work for IBM in 2001 after graduating from Michigan Tech University in 2000 with a business degree in management and marketing. After nine and a half years at IBM, he moved on to Tatro Brothers Concrete in Hyde Park, working as a general manager until 2011.

He first got involved with JSC in 2006, after being appointed the assistant men’s basketball coach under Mike Osborne, the assistant director of athletics and men’s basketball coach. “I was on his staff as his assistant and his associate head coach for five years, and then also was the women’s [basketball] assistant for one year, prior to being appointed women’s head coach…in 2011,” he said.

After becoming the women’s basketball head coach, Eckman shared his time between the college and a children’s daycare that he and his wife, Chantal, ran out of their Westford, Vt. home. “It was a great split between being the women’s head coach up here and then being able to be home with my kids,” said Eckman, who has a three-year-old daughter and a five-year old son. “We had about 12 to 13 kids on our roster throughout the day, so it was a busy day.”

Eckman had been looking to join JSC full time for a while. “I’d been looking for something that kind of matches my background with my degree in business [and] my experience at IBM,” he said. “So when the job here for the financial aid officer became available, I jumped right at it.”

Eckman wanted to work with students off the court, to be able to help them through the challenges of paying for college. “I feel I get an opportunity to really help the students not only understand what financial aid they have available to them, but how the process works, because its really confusing, and really stressful at times,” he said.

“So I really hope to help educate people and help them steer through these hectic waters of paying these big bills and understanding what they mean long-term for them…Anything that has to do with money and paying bills tends to equal stress. I like to be in a spot here at the college where I can hopefully alleviate some of that along the way.”

After applying for the position in January, Eckman attended a panel interview held by Director of Financial Aid Lisa Cummings, Accounts Recievable Supervisor Deneen Russel, Associate Director of Financial Aid Kim Goodell, and Assistant Director of Resident Life Jeff Bickford. “Greg really impressed the committee with his enthusiasm [and] his business background,” said Cummings.

“Although he did not have any direct financial aid experience he had worked with many students on campus [as the women’s basketball coach] and had helped them through some of the FAFSA process. I can honestly say in having hired other people here in prior positions I haven’t seen anybody pick up so quickly what needs to be in a financial aid office,” she added.

Eckman was well aware of the challenges of the job. “I had the opportunity to work with Tim over the years,” he said. “I’ve got big shoes to fill. He was a staple down here. I’m honored to be able to work in an office with such good people and I’ve got a lot of work in front of me to achieve what Tim did here, which was to become a nice trusted advocate of a lot of students, and help make sure everyone had their questions answered.”

Russo stepped down from his post in February to pursue a position at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine.