This April, Texas Woman’s University announced the creation of a new money management center to be led by the current athletics director, Chalese Connors.
Pioneer Moneywise will facilitate financial literacy among students, offering guidance on everything from managing student loan debt to creating budgets and balancing checkbooks. Connors, who has been the director of TWU’s athletics department for 18 years, was asked to take on the new role as leader of the center based on her “strong record of leadership,” according to a TWU press release.
“I am excited about what’s to come,” Connors said. “But there’s a little bit of sadness because I’m leaving something that had been near and dear to my heart for so long.”
Connors, who will assume her new role after an incoming athletics director is hired this summer, said this semester has been bittersweet.
“We’re wrapping up the academic year so I’m having my lasts – my last award ceremony, my last road trip, my last Senior Day, so that’s a little emotional” Connors said. “But on the flip side, I’ve had so many people that have contacted me […] and said, ‘this Pioneer MoneyWise center is going to be great and so needed and we’re very excited.’ So, it’s nice to know that there’s an immense amount of support already for this initiative.”
Though Connors acknowledges that this new position will be different than her current one, she said she believes that her time as athletics director will inform her work at the money management center.
“There are certain skills that are required for both positions, and I think that’s what makes this so attractive and exciting to me,” Connors said. “As an athletics director I’m putting together teams of people to help impact student-athletes to reach their potential. In the new position, I’ll be putting together teams of student-peer groups and staff that will impact students to be successful.”
Connors said she chose to take on this challenge to create new opportunities for the department and for herself.
“18 years at this job has been a blessing and I’ve been able to do wonderful things with a great staff and fantastic student athletes,” Connors said. “But 18 years made me think ‘Is it time for fresh eyes on this department?’ and ‘Is it time for me to look at a new challenge and stretch myself professionally?’ […] I’ve put my mark on this place and now it’s an opportunity for someone else.”
Connors said she is looking at the money management initiatives that are already a success – both at TWU and at other institutions – to guide her in creating the new center.
“Student money management centers across the country all have the same goal, which is student success,” Connors said. “There are a lot of people here that are doing great things with financial literacy [like] the CARE office – Jessica Burchfield and Amy O’Keefe, and the Health and Wellbeing Initiative. My goal is to pull all of that together and figure out how we make it our own.”
As to the legacy she hopes to leave after her long tenure as AD, she said she feels the program’s growth is legacy enough.
“We were able to move a partially funded scholarship program – with the help of the Board of Regents – to a fully funded scholarship program,” Connors said. “We started the pep band, the Pioneer Pride dance team, the mascot […]. All those things happened in the past 18 years, so I think doing a lot with a little and elevating our athletics department is something our institution can be proud of.”