Creating A Culture of Inclusion: Shifting the Disability Frame

Creating A Culture of Inclusion: Shifting the Disability Frame

Melanie V. Thompson
Northern Illinois University

The use of Universal Design (UD) within higher education has primarily been directed towards students with disabilities. In recent years, research has proposed that UD is beneficial to a wide range of students, including but not limited to students with disabilities.  Students not speaking English as their first language, students who are non-traditional in age, and students with varied learning styles may all benefit from the infusion of UD within higher education.  In light of the far reaching potential for access and inclusion that is associated with UD, the ACPA Standing Committee on Disability (SCD) has proposed that UD become a standard framework for designing learning environments within ACPA and for individual member use.  Over the course of the next several months, the SCD will be spotlighting the use of UD from various perspectives within higher education including: (a) a disability resource provider, (b) a faculty member, (c) an individual with a disability, and (d) a student affairs professional.  The first article, from the Chairperson of the SCD will provide an overview of a UD framework and demonstrate the applicability of UD to disability resources within higher education.

Disability literature abounds with pleas to incorporate Universal Design (UD) within higher education (see Burgstahler & Cory, 2008; Higbee & Goff, 2008).  Currently, there is little reference to UD outside of disability-related research and writing.  Among disability scholars and practitioners, there is belief that the infusion of UD within higher education would improve the engagement and retention of all students, not just students with disabilities.  A handful of federally funded grant programs have set out to prove this.

By infusing UD into education, college students benefit from flexibility, adaptability, and tolerance for error in a supportive learning environment.  By changing the frame through which disability is viewed, institutions can continue to move forward including disability as a tenet of diversity.  Research asserts that as faculty and staff within institutions of higher education include components of UD in and out of the classroom, students with disabilities will have a decreased need for some types of accommodations and encounter fewer barriers. Disability Resource Centers may also benefit from increased use of UD in higher education; using UD may allow more opportunities to concentrate on barrier reduction and individualized problem solving since less time may be devoted to addressing short-term, temporary accommodations.

In light of support for the infusion of UD within higher education, the SCD has proposed to ACPA leadership that a UD framework be utilized within ACPA.  For example, UD could be used to inform the design of professional development, the web site platform and content, and membership materials.  Four SCD members have crafted this Developments series, “Expanding the Frame: Applying Universal Design in Higher Education,” to exemplify the intersections of a UD framework. Professionals in different roles within higher education have each written a part of the series. In the first of this four-part series on UD, I will provide an introduction to UD and discuss how my role as the director of a disability resource center is impacted by the use of a UD framework.  As you read through the series, I invite you to question how you could include UD in the work you do.  How could you inspire others to use UD?  Also, how does UD benefit students on a regular basis, whether those students have disabilities or not?

Universal Design Framework

Ronald L. Mace initially conceptualized UD as “the designing of all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life” (Center for Universal Design, 2010).  Well-known examples include curb cuts, closed captioning, and automatic door openers.  UD has subsequently been applied to education, which has been referred to as Universal Design of Instruction (UDI or UID) (see Burgstahler & Cory, 2008; Campbell, 2004; McGuire & Scott, 2006; Mino, 2004). Roberts, Park, Brown, and Cook (2011) would assert that there is no meaningful distinction between these two terms.  UD has also been applied to learning under the term Universal Design of Learning (UDL) (see Morra & Reynolds, 2010; National Center on Universal Design for Learning, n.d.).  Throughout the SCD UD series you will see reference to UD, UDI, UID, and UDL reflecting each author’s preference.

The Center for Universal Designlocated at North Carolina State University (see promotes the following seven principles of UD: (a) equitable use: the design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities; (b) flexibility in use: the design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities; (c) simple and intuitive use: use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level; (d) perceptible information: the design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities; (e) tolerance for error: the design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions; (f) low physical effort: the design can be used efficiently, comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue; and (g) size and space for approach and use: appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility.  These principles are the foundation for UD, regardless of the context applied to.  To apply UD principles to instruction, Burgstahler (2008) suggests adopting the following process: (a) identify the course; (b) define the universe; (c) involve students; (d) adopt instructional strategies; (e) apply instructional strategies; (f) plan for accommodations; and (g) evaluate.

When UD principles are applied to instruction, the result is termed Universal Design of Instruction (UDI or UID), which McGuire and Scott (2006) define as “a framework for faculty to use in planning and delivering instruction and assessing of learning outcomes.  The underlying premise is a value system that embraces heterogeneity in learners and espouses high academic standards” (p. 125).  When UD principles are applied to learning, the result is termed Universal design for Learning (UDL).  The National Center on Universal Design for Learning (see promotes the following three principles of UDL: (a) multiple means of representation; (b) multiple means of expression; and (c) multiple means of engagement.

Regardless of the terminology used, the overarching premise of UD is to be proactive in design and identify multiple ways in which the end goals can be met. The forthcoming articles in this UD series will further demonstrate UD principles. For those wishing to learn more about the principles of UD, recommended readings include Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice (Burgstahler & Cory, 2008), Rethinking Disability: Principles for Professional and Social Change (DePoy & Gilson, 2004) and Making Good on the Promise: Student Affairs Professionals with Disabilities (Higbee & Mitchell, 2009).

UD and Disability Resource Centers: One Perspective

In the fall of 2010, I completed research with 58 faculty and staff in which nearly half (44%) of the respondents reported having had no prior training regarding disability, limited awareness of opportunities to consult regarding accessibility concerns, and limited knowledge regarding barriers faced by students with invisible disabilities (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, traumatic brain injury, chronic medical conditions, and mental health diagnoses).  How could I expect faculty and staff to engage as advocates and allies for inclusion and barrier reduction if they were not aware of barriers, were not aware of consultation resources, and were not aware of the types of disabilities impacting a large percentage of students with disabilities?

During that same research, 35% of the respondents indicated they did not agree that disability was a component of diversity.  One major impetus supporting UD within higher education is the diversity of the student body.  Again I questioned how to identify and develop disability advocates and allies if over one-third of faculty and staff respondents disregarded disability as a tenet of diversity.

Since inclusive environments for diverse students increase retention rates (Lombardi, Gerdes, & Murray, 2011; Merisotis, 2008), I have found it imperative to identify ways faculty and staff can create inclusive environments for individuals with disabilities.  UD principles have been one way I have attempted to do so.  When sharing UD principles with others, whether during consultations, departmental meetings, or through university committee work, I often get an “a-ha” reaction in which the principles of UD are described as “common sense.” Another reaction I have received is that a UD framework may positively impact customer service.  While not an expected reaction to sharing UD, this customer service idea was an “a-ha” moment for me as well, and has positively impacted how I talk about UD within our Center, with staff, and with colleagues.

I have found select constituency groups willing to collaborate and proactively build inclusion for individuals with disabilities, particularly when invested in the outcome. This, I find, is preferable to demanding that groups conform because of legal, federal mandates. Framing UD as a customer service philosophy has resonated with some of these constituency groups.  I am not asserting individuals with disabilities are customers; however, I am saying in order to be student-centered, customer service may be viewed as essential.  If UD principles seem like good customer service principles for some, then using this analogy will remain as one of the many tools I employ to advocate for inclusion of individuals with disabilities.  I share this example more to demonstrate that engaging folks in a conversation about UD can be framed in myriad ways; I have found that finding what is salient to my “audience” goes a long way in building support for infusing UD into higher education.

The current college student population includes more non-traditional age students, veterans, and second-language learners.  Today’s students also represent a range of social, economic, and cultural backgrounds.  As an educational framework, UD is likely to help this range of students, including students with and without disabilities. UD is particularly valuable for students who have invisible disabilities and/or those who do not want to disclose their disabilities. Given the stigma often associated with disability, educators should not be surprised that many students choose not to disclose (Marshak, Van Wieren, Ferrell, Swiss, & Dugan, 2010).  Unfortunately, without disclosure, access to formal support and accommodations is typically unavailable within institutions of higher education.  By providing greater access to the widest range of students through UD, institutions and educators may reduce the need to disclose for some students.

As a disability resource provider and administrator, I have spent countless hours each semester working individually with faculty, staff, and students to resolve accommodation-based concerns.  Faculty have expressed frustration when students do not request accommodations until several weeks into the semester.  Some faculty have questioned the necessity for accommodations when students have requested them midway through their courses.  Staff have voiced frustration when students have not disclosed a disability until experiencing a barrier.  This frustration has frequently been linked to the cost of an accommodation needed to remove a barrier, which may not have been sufficiently budgeted for, if budgeted for at all, and has been linked to disappointment in the result of contributing to the exclusion of students with disabilities.  Students with disabilities have articulated frustration in having to do more than students without disabilities to experience a level playing field, in having to disclose personal information, and having to argue, advocate, and fight for legally protected rights.  Proactively applying a UD framework often can reduce all of these frustrations, simply by providing an inclusive and welcoming environment.

It was stated earlier that increased use of UD may benefit disability resource centers by allowing more opportunities for consultation on barrier reduction and individualized problem solving because less time would be devoted to addressing short-term, temporary accommodations.  Research (Lovett, 2010) has proposed that some accommodations provided on a semester or term basis could be reduced through the use of UD.  For example, some faculty have begun allowing extended time for all students to complete quizzes and exams, or have started to use assessment methods that are not constrained by a set amount of class time. Research (Ofiesh & Hughes, 2002) has suggested that students who do not need extended time do not do any better with extra time.  Conversely, research has also suggested that students who do need extended time and are not allowed it do worse than they would have done with extended time (Ofiesh & Hughes, 2002).  McGuire and Scott (2006) provided examples of how faculty can apply UDL in the classroom, including posting lecture notes online, sharing rubrics and/or models for written assignments, giving students formative feedback on writing assignments, and using varied instructional strategies (e.g., lectures, videos, guest speakers, group activities).

Next Steps

Next steps will vary depending upon individual roles within higher education and familiarity with UD principles. A good starting point is to identify the model of disability you personally embrace. Knowing how you frame disability will allow you to make informed decisions about including UD. Other next steps may include identifying advocates and allies that embrace UD; working with faculty/staff development centers to create trainings on UD; infusing UD into mission, vision, and program objectives; reviewing program requirements and physical locations for barriers; providing alternate format of materials; ensuring that online materials are accessible; and reviewing syllabi for inclusive/accessibility statements.


Burgstahler, S. (2008). Universal design of instruction: From principles to practice. In S. Burgstahler, & R. C. Cory (Eds.), Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice (pp. 23-45), Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Burgstahler, S., & Cory, R. C. (Eds.). (2008). Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Campbell, D. (2004). Assistive technology and universal instruction design: A postsecondary perspective. Equity and Excellence in Education, 37(2), 167-173.

Center for Universal Design. (1997). What is universal design? Retrieved from
Center for Universal Design. (2010). History of Ronald L. Mace. Retrieved from

DePoy, E., & Filson, S.F. (2004). Rethinking disability: Principles for professional and social change.  Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Higbee, J.L., & Goff, E. (Eds.). (2008). Pedagogy and student services for institutional transformation: Implementing universal design in higher education. Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research on Development Education and Urban Literacy. Retrieved from

Higbee, J.L., & Mitchell, A.A. (Eds.). (2009). Making good on the promise: Student affairs professionals with disabilities. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Lombardi, A., Gerdes, H., & Murray, C. (2011). Validating an assessment of individual actions, postsecondary supports, and social supports of college students with disabilities. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48(1), 107-126.

Lovett, B.J. (2010). Extended time testing accommodations for students with disabilities: Answers to five fundamental questions. Review of Educational Research, 80(4), 611-638.

Marshak, L., Van Wieren, T., Ferrell, D., Swiss, L., & Dugan, C. (2010). Exploring barriers to college student use of disability services. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 22(3), 151-165.

McGuire, J. M., & Scott, S. S. (2006). Universal design for instruction: Extending the universal design paradigm to college instruction. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(1), 124-134.

Merisotis, J. P. (2008). Where do we go from here? Reducing inequities and today’s changing demographic. The New England Journal of Higher Education, 22(5), 27-29.

Mino, J. (2004). Planning for inclusion: Using universal instructional design to create a learner-centered community college classroom. Equity and Excellence in Education, 37(2). 154-160.

Morra, T., & Reynolds, J. (2010). Universal design for learning: Application for technology enhanced learning. Inquiry, 15(1), 43-51.
National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (n.d.). [Web site]. Retrieved from

Ofiesh, N.S., & Hughes, C.A. (2002). How much time?: A review of the literature on extended test time for postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 16(1), 2-16.

Roberts, K., Park, H-J., Brown, S., & Cook, B. (2011). Universal design for instruction in postsecondary education: A systematic review of empirically based articles. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 24(1), 5-15.


About the Author

Melanie V. Thompson, Ed.S., NCC, LPC, LMHC, is the Director of the Center for Access-Ability Resources at Northern Illinois University. She also serves as the 2011-2013 Chairperson of the ACPA Standing Committee on Disability. 

Please send inquiries to [email protected]

The opinions expressed by Developments author(s) are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members, Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

A Tribute to Developments Columnist Robert M. Hendrickson

A Tribute to Developments Columnist Robert M. Hendrickson

Jason Lane
State University of New York, Albany
Jeffrey Sun
University of North Dakota

Robert M. Hendrickson, or “Bob” as many of us know him, started writing the Legal Issues column for ACPA Developments in the early 1990s.  For the last twenty years he has provided student affairs practitioners with insights and explanations of how the courts have defined the legal rights and responsibilities of students and offered sage advice to administrators.  He writes his last column in this issue of ACPA Developments; turning his pen over to the next generation of legal scholars, he plans to spend time with his family, and most importantly his grandchildren, whom he cherishes.

Bob has had a long and distinguished career as a scholar and an administrator.  He grew up in North Dakota and will commonly regale anyone around him with stories from the stoic state.  He earned a bachelor degree in zoology from North Dakota State University and graduate degrees in higher education and student personnel (with minors in law and business/sociology) from Indiana University.  His academic knowledge was augmented by his significant professional experiences.  He previously worked as a residence hall director and assistant dean of students at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, later serving as an assistant dean of students at Northwestern University. He began his faculty career as an associate professor at Montana State University then joined the faculty at the University of Virginia.

In 1984, Bob discovered his new home – State College, Pennsylvania.  He joined the faculty at Penn State, falling in love with the people and the local region. It would be the place he would spend the rest of his career.  Over the course of the last three decades, he served as the Professor-in-Charge of the nationally ranked program higher education program; head of the department of educational leadership and policy, and associate dean of the Penn State’s College of Education. Of course, his leadership skills are in high demand, so even after stepping down from the associate deanship two years ago with the hopes of returning to the faculty, the College called him back to service as the interim director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education.

Throughout Bob’s career as an academic administrator, he remained active in the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the Educational Law Association.  He also published numerous articles on legal issues in higher education. His most well-known publication is The Colleges, Their Constituencies, and the Courts, published in 1991 and 1999.  This book served as the primary legal resource for many higher education law classes and as a handy reference guide for practitioners.  As he brings his career to a close, he offers one more book to capture lessons learned as a former administrator with: The Handbook of Academic Administration (Stylus Press), which he is co-authoring with three of his former students.

Regardless of how busy Bob might have been, he always had time for his students.  He directed many doctoral dissertations, several of which won outstanding dissertation awards. His former students have gone on to serve in faculty and administrative positions throughout the United States and in foreign countries; several are presidents of colleges and universities.   He is more than an advisor; he is a mentor, a colleague, and a friend.  He is the person who always has a smile and is willing to share a laugh. And, he has left an indelible mark on all he associated with over the course of his career.  He has been a positive and lasting influence on the field of higher education, on Penn State, on his students, and on his readers.

Bob, we wish you all the best with your retirement and we look forward to hearing your many more stories as you spend time with your family and friends.  We will miss you, but we will never forget you.

Dr. Robert Hendrickson is a Professor of Education in Higher Education and Director and Senior Scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Hendrickson holds an Ed.D. in higher education with a minor in law from Indiana University. His research and teaching interests include legal issues, organizational theory administration and governance, and faculty employment issues. He has published a number of articles, monographs and books. For the past 6 1/2 years he served as Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Research & Faculty Development within the College of Education. During his tenure as Associate Dean, six graduate programs were ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. News rankings and research awards grew from $4 million in 2001 to $18 million in 2007. Prior positions include Head of the Department of Education Policy Studies for eight years and Professor-in-Charge of the Higher Education Program for nine.

Commissions Corner

Commissions Corner

Laura A. Bayless
Coordinator-Elect for Commissions
Saint Mary’s College of Maryland
Heather Shea Gasser
Coordinator for Commissions
University of Idaho

This issue of Developments highlights the work of four Commissions and one Task Force:

  • Academic Support in Higher Education
  • Commuter Students and Adult Learners
  • Recreation and Athletics
  • Student Involvement
  • The new Task Force for Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Take a moment to read these brief articles. We expect you will find resources to assist in your work on your campus. Commissions and Task Forces produce a number of important professional development opportunities, ranging from webinars to publications to in-person training opportunities. It is never too late to become involved yourself: contact any Commission Chair for information about how to make a difference in ACPA and in the field through work in Commissions.

Commission for Academic Support in Higher Education

Adrianna Guram, Chair

The Commission for Academic Support in Higher Education (CASHE) provides support and professional development opportunities for individuals in higher education institutions who work within the areas of academic support. These areas include (but are not limited to) academic advising, developmental education, and college learning centers. Our mission is to inform professionals in academic support services of issues and trends impacting student academic success. Professionals who affiliate with CASHE regularly engage students by providing direct services to assist students in achieving academic success.  Based upon the CASHE mission statement, the commission members keep a pulse on topics of concern specific to their professional niche. Discussions within this context pertain to serving special student populations, including academically at-risk students, international students, and first-generation college students and sharing specific techniques or best practices related to providing academic support.

To enhance the role that academic support professionals play in the daily lives of our students, CASHE is committed to highlighting best practices across the spectrum of academic support units.  We supported programs at the 2012 ACPA Convention, prepared a “virtual” book club with our membership in 2012, and looking ahead at the possible creation of an Institute for Academic Support.

We encourage individuals to join our group on Facebook to connect with current issues and topics, connect via LinkedIn, and to read our quarterly newsletter for updates on the Commission and scholarly writing by our members.  We invite you to become active in the Commission through one of our various opportunities for involvement.  Please direct questions to the Commission Chair, Adrianna Guram.

The Commission for Commuter Students and Adult Learners

Margaret Langford

The origins of the Commission for Commuter Students and Adult Learners trace back to the growing interest in commuter students and their special needs that emerged during the early 1970s.  ACPA’s Commission II (Admissions and Orientation) agreed to host the Commuter Task Force in 1975. The Association officially created Commission XVII (Commuter Programs) at the1978 ACPA National Convention. At the 1988 ACPA National Convention, the Commission added Adult Learners to their title, and action that clearly indicated that adult learners, a significant constituency within the overall commuter student population, are an integral and vital part of the Commission’s overall advocacy, networking, and education efforts. During the summer of 2002, the current name, Commission for Commuter Students and Adult Learners, was formally adopted.

The Commission for Commuter Students and Adult Learners (CCSAL) provides a network of contacts and support for professionals serving commuter students and adult learners. Opportunities for learning about effective programs and services, encouraging original research, sharing data, and discussing the needs/concerns of these populations are a large part of the Commission experience. The mission of CCSAL includes

  • Providing a network of contacts and support for those serving commuter student and adult learners;
  • Providing a forum for discussing and advocating on behalf commuter and adult student needs and concerns; and
  • Promoting the generation and sharing of data, research, services, and programs, which effectively enhance commuter and adult students’ development.

Here’s what we are working on now:

  • Sponsored Programs: If you were at the 2012 ACPA Convention, the CCSAL Sponsored Programs had some great information on how to serve commuter students and adult learners, including our annual offering “More Than A Place to Park.”
  • Commission Awards: Congratulations to our Award winners! A list of award winners is available on the CCSAL Web site.
  • Convention Showcase: The CCSAL table at the Convention Showcase had information on what we’re doing and how you can get involved.
  • E-Newsletter: Want to get published? Consider writing an article about serving commuter students and/or adult learners for our e-newsletter.
  • Directorate Nominations and Elections: CCSAL welcomed new directorate members this spring. Check out our website to meet them.

Want to get involved? CCSAL is always happy to welcome new members! You can find more information on the CCSAL Web site. You can also contact the CCSAL Chair, Gerry Elizondo.

Commission for Recreation and Athletics 

Mike Fulford, Chair

The Commission for Recreation and Athletics (CRA) is a fairly new commission (established in 2009), but, in a short time, this commission has been very engaged in the profession and serving its members and ACPA. CRA’s mission is to provide ACPA members with opportunities for professional development regarding issues of importance in campus recreational sports and inter-collegiate (varsity) athletics. In addition, acting within the ACPA governance structure and with the ACPA International Office, CRA assists in positioning ACPA to be an informed voice on campus recreation and athletics issues, as those issues intersect with student affairs and with the strategic objectives of ACPA as an association.

Since its inception, the commission has aligned its focus with the association and the unique lens in which it operates within the areas of campus recreation and athletics.  These areas of focus involve three goals:

  • Offer professional development opportunities that explore the impact of participation in recreational sports and athletics on students.
  • Create and disseminate knowledge, contribute to existing ACPA publications/materials, and develop additional professional development publications/materials and opportunities that expand the knowledge on campus recreation and intercollegiate athletics in support of informed and effective practice.
  • Develop professional competencies that articulate the knowledge and skills needed by student affairs professionals who serve in or address issues in campus recreation and/or athletics.

CRA’s membership has been busy over the past two years.  CRA members have spent significant amount of time working to develop a thought paper and support the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) to challenge the development of policies in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) that will have a negative impact on the ability of institutions to earn revenue through hosting basketball camps. The issue is on-going and CRA is a vocal participant in these discussions as a representative of ACPA.  The leadership of Scott Hirko, past Chair of the CRA, has allowed the CRA to have a presence in these conversations and while the CRA’s thought paper was being developed.

In addition to developing the infrastructure of the commission, another project includes working closely with ACPA and NIRSA to make the upcoming co-located 2013 convention in Las Vegas a huge success. This has been a great opportunity for two associations to prove that collaboration is possible at the highest level and to bring professionals in campus recreation closer to their colleagues in other student affairs functional areas.

As CRA grows, we would like to encourage interested professionals to become involved in our Commission. Members may run for positions on the Directorate, help with the new awards process, assist in the development of the inaugural ACPA Institute in collaboration with NIRSA that is slated for Fall 2012, and submit sponsored programs for the annual convention.  As a newly established commission, this is a great time for ACPA members to get involved and obtain experience in a leadership role with CRA.

If you are interested in the Commission for Recreation and Athletics, additional information about the commission is available on the Commission Web site.  Please direct questions to the Commission Chair, Mike Fulford.

Commission for Student Involvement 

Marlena Martinez Love, Chair

One of ACPA’s oldest entity groups, the Commission for Student Involvement (CSI), exists to support and advance the work of student affairs educators who promote student engagement, foster change, and encourage students’ development through activities in four focus areas: community service/service learning, leadership education, clubs and organizations, and fraternity and sorority affairs. While CSI is known to many as the “fun commission,” we also mean business!

The Commission continues to enhance the ACPA member experience by offering top-notch educational programs, exploring ways to integrate CSI values and ACPA action (like the 2011 Dress for Success Drive), and advocating co-curricular learning that is equally important to what students learn inside the classroom. CSI has an active listserv, an invaluable benefit that engages members in resource sharing and brainstorming on a variety of topic areas. Through our awards and recognition programs, CSI is able to support new research about our four focus areas and acknowledge campus best practices that shape the field.

CSI commits to providing a year-round professional development experience and engaging members through volunteer, educational, and networking opportunities. Volunteer opportunities exist for professionals at every level and range from participating in dial-a-dialogues, to working on CSI’s focus areas from serving in an elected CSI leadership role, to publishing in a variety of commission venues. While Convention programming is a major component of our activities, CSI also actively engages members outside of the Convention period to enhance the overall experience and improve services to ACPA and to our field.

The Commission has undertaken a number of major initiatives this year, including streamlining our online elections process, revamping the leadership structure for Directorate and Leadership Team operations, enhancing our social media presence, creating a mid-year meeting, developing real and virtual resources to best meet the needs of our members, and drastically rethinking the way we approach the work of the Commission. After 50 years of growing and learning as an ACPA entity, CSI is entering an exciting new phase of existence. Made possible through the vision and dedication of incredible volunteers, CSI members have created a Task Force to rethink, retool, and reimagine our purpose and to chart the course for a reinvigorated path forward. To learn more about the evolution of CSI and how you can help shape our shared future, please visit the Commission Web site  or contact CSI Chair, MarlenaMartinez Love.

Many seasoned ACPA members get their start in CSI and many new members join our efforts every year. For many, CSI is their home within ACPA. Whether you are a first-year graduate student, a mid-level manager, or seasoned faculty member, we welcome you to join in the conversation and be a part of CSI’s evolution. If you are interested in the Commission for Student Involvement, additional information about the commission is available on the Commission Web site.  CSI also is active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Please direct questions to the Commission Chair, Marlena Martinez Love.

Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness Task Force

Kathy Adams Riester, Interim Chair

College and university professionals are often challenged to develop new areas of expertise as issues arise across the country and on our own campuses.  Many of us have had to work quickly to develop behavior assessment/management teams, critical incident response teams, continuity of business plans, and pandemic plans to address issues of safety and violence on campus. ACPA has created a new Task Force on Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness to help assist you with these new demands.  The purpose of this Task Force is to provide ACPA Members with knowledge and skill development in the areas of Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness on college and university campuses. Additionally, the Task Force will be an informed voice on issues, concerns, and best practices in these areas for the field of Higher Education.

The Task Force on Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness kicked off its inaugural year at the ACPA Annual Convention in Louisville.  There will be two sponsored programs: one that focuses on combining student and staff behavior assessment and management teams and the other on emergency response to natural disasters on campus.

Additionally, the Task Force was at the Convention Showcase on March 26 and held an Informational Meeting on March 27.  Future plans include the creation of a clearinghouse of Campus Safety and Emergency Preparedness resources.  The Task Force will also develop trainings to allow professionals at various levels to add skills, knowledge, and resources that are appropriate for their level of responsibility. If you have any questions and/or are interested in getting involved, please contact the Interim Chair of the Task Force, Kathy Adams Riester.

Managing Internationalization: Strategic Initiatives or Reactionary Programming?

Managing Internationalization: Strategic Initiatives or Reactionary Programming?

Jason E. Lane
State University of New York, Albany

The purpose of the Global Affairs column is to discuss issues pertinent to the student affairs profession that arise out of the growing interconnectedness in the world. This column will provide readers with information and insights about the changing nature of the profession and some of the factors contributing to those changes. The use of the term “globalization” is meant to describe the growing interconnection of nations, people, economies, politics, and education and is not meant to reflect a particular ideology or belief structure. The column will explore both the potentially good and bad aspects of a real phenomenon.

Discussions regarding internationalization within higher education tend to focus on curriculum development, study abroad opportunities, research collaborations, and development of joint or dual degree programs. Rarely are the role and responsibilities of student affairs practitioners discussed in the global context; yet, many students are directly influenced by the work of such individuals.

In December 2011, I attended a conference about internationalization of higher education at the University of Lund in Sweden.  Co-hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Nordic University Association, the conference—The Strategic Management of Internationalization in Higher Education—was based on the premise that internationalization is an increasingly important aspect of many higher education institutions and that more attention needs to be given to how to effectively manage international engagements and internationalization processes.

While participating in the meeting, I wondered how, if at all, internationalization is managed within student affairs. The conference focused on institutional and governmental levels of strategy and there was no mention of student affairs (or related) activities. This was not altogether surprising, as the focus of the conference was mostly within the European context, where formalized divisions of students affairs, like those often found among colleges and universities in the United States, are still in the formative stages of development, if they exist at all.  However, I did begin to wonder the extent to which the traditional responsibilities of student affairs professionals are considered within the context of internationalization in higher education. Moreover, to what extent are student affairs leaders managing, or merely reacting to, the forces of globalization?

According to the International Association of Universities third Global Survey of Internationalization of Higher Education, the top reason institutional respondents provided for engaging in internationalization of activities was to “improve student preparedness for a globalized/internationalized world” (Egron-Polak & Hudson, 2010, p. 64). In implementing this goal, most respondents focused their internationalization strategies on study abroad experiences and internationalizing the curriculum. It seems that preparing students for a globalized/internationalize world should incorporate those in both academic and student affairs.  It is often through the co-curricular experience that students develop skills related to leadership, teamwork, and communication—all of which could benefit from the addition of international perspectives. In fact, given how few students actually study abroad, student affairs practitioners can play an important role in helping students who do have the interest or ability to study abroad to gain an international perspective or expand their intercultural understanding.

So, if institutional administrators are not actively engaging student affairs departments in internationalization strategies, then to what extent are student affairs divisions actively pursuing their own internationalization strategies? And, are the internationally-oriented aspects of student affairs part of a strategic vision, or merely reactions to specific events or external pressures?

Given the large number of demands that already exist on student affairs practitioners, many have likely not had the time or passion to think comprehensively about a divisional strategy for internationalization. In many colleges and universities, internationally-focused student affairs engagements are often isolated events that are spear-headed by a “champion” of the cause or sponsored by specific student clubs with a specific cultural or national focus.  Unfortunately, we have yet to see many student affairs division that embrace a global perspective on their work in the same way that many of embraced concepts such as diversity and social justice. In fact, in the September/October 2011 issue of About Campus, several authors described how study abroad experiences can enrich the student learning experience, and I commend the editors for taking a more global perspective in this issue; however, I was also interested in how leadership development programs, student activity offices, college unions, residence halls, and other more traditional student affairs units help students gain a more global perspective.

My purpose here is not to set forth a manifesto for internationalizing student affairs divisions—rather, I hope to raise awareness of this topic and suggest a general process that student affairs practitioners might use to internationalize their functions and help the institution prepare students for a globalized/internationalized world.  Despite the level of institutional commitment, the world in which our students will be working and living is increasingly “flattening,” as Friedman (2005) has often pointed out.  Those in student affairs can play an important role in preparing students to be successful in this flat world and also raise campus-wide awareness of the importance of internationalization.  However, it is important for those in student affairs divisions to have a general agreement about internationalization and how it can be integrated into their own activities. Too often, internationalization is viewed as a separate function to be handled by certain offices (e.g. study abroad), rather than broadly integrated across several divisions.

First, there needs to be a shared understanding of the intent and process of internationalization among student affairs professionals.  One of the more commonly accepted definitions of the term is “the process of integrating an international, intercultural, and/or global dimension into the purpose, functions (teaching, research, and service) and delivery of higher education” (Knight, 2006, p. 2).  Again, student affairs is largely ignored; however, for our purposes, we can easily amend the definition to be more relevant: the process of integrating an international, intercultural, and/or global dimension into the purpose and functions of student affairs. Such a definition provides a broad understanding of the process; however, each institution will likely embrace this concept in different ways, even though the administrative teams need to have a shared understanding of the concept.

Second, student affairs professionals should inventory what internationalization activities currently exist within their divisions. Before laying out a new agenda of internationalization, it is important to understand what internationally oriented programs currently exist. Such an inventory serves as a way to determine the current breadth of programs offered, identifies existing strengths and priorities, and can highlight weaknesses and holes in student programming. There are often several different international experiences available to students on a campus, but there is not always a central accounting of these activities. At some institutions, the international office may play a significant role in coordinating such information, but that is not always the case.

Third, practitioners should understand the institutional goals for internationalization. What strategies or priorities does the institution have in regard to internationalization? Do the goals include bringing more foreign students to campus or to send more domestic students abroad?  Perhaps the institution is seeking to develop “global citizens” or a “globally competitive workforce.” At other institutions, the priorities may be part of an institution-wide strategic plan or a related vision document.  Increasingly, institutions are thinking more comprehensively about internationalization, and student affairs divisions should be part of this process. But, even if students affairs does not have a seat at the table while strategic plans are being drafted, it does not mean that they cannot help the institution to achieve its goals.

Finally, student affairs practitioners should develop goals and action steps aligned with institutional goals that support a broad internationalization of the division’s functions and activities. In developing these goals, it is important to remember those students who do not have the interest or opportunity to study abroad.  How do divisions extend internationalize efforts to these students? How can student affairs divisions internationalize existing programs?  What new programs might be developed? What opportunities exist to partner with academic affairs as a means for enriching the overall learning experience of students?

These steps are meant to generate discussion and conversation about this topic, which, I hope, will eventually lead to strategic planning and goal setting.  Several student affairs units have already begun to think about such things and simple searches on the Internet reveal examples of how some student affairs divisions have attempted to deal with this topic. If you are part of a division that is already embracing internationalization, consider how you can help move the agenda forward. If your division is has yet to have these conversations, then I encourage you to initiate such conversations. The questions above, or in some of my previous columns, might help “break the ice.” If you are an aspiring student affairs professional, I would encourage you think about how you might incorporate an international perspective into your future work.

Discussion Questions
These discussion questions are drawn from the International Association of Universities questions posed above.

  • How can the internationalization efforts within student affairs support Knight’s (2006) definition of internationalization?
  • How could the definition of internationalization be broadened, if at all, to better reflect institutional efforts?
  • Does your student affairs division have a shared understanding of internationalization of higher education?
  • If you were a student affairs administrator, how would you seek to foster an international perspective among your staff?


Egron-Polak, E. & Hudson, R. (2010).  Internationalization of Higher Education: Global Trends, Regional Perspectives. (IAU 3rd Global Survey Report). Paris: International  Association of Universities.

Friedman, T.L. (2005). The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Knight, J. (2006). Internationalization of Higher Education: New Directions, New Challenges. (IAU 2nd Global Survey Report). Paris: International Association of Universities.

About the Author

Jason E. Lane is Director of Education Studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, associate professor of educational administration and policy studies, and a senior researcher with the Institute for Global Education Policy Studies at the State University of New York, Albany.  He is member of the governing boards of the Comparative and International Education Society and the Council for International Higher Education and is an Associate of the International Association of Universities. His most recent books include Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch Campuses and The Global Growth of Private Higher Education, both from Jossey-Bass.

More about the author and his research on cross-border education can be found here. Please e-mail inquires to Jason E. Lane. The opinions expressed by Developments author(s) are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members, Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Going Beyond Legal Obligations: Be Guided by Fairness and Justice

Going Beyond Legal Obligations: Be Guided by Fairness and Justice

Robert M. Hendrickson
Pennsylvania State University

When Dixon v. Alabama (1961) was decided, I was a junior in high school, and at the time, I had no idea of the revolutionary nature of this case.  What I learned as I began to study legal issues in higher education was that this decision was a watershed case that brought the courts through the college gates and established a new constitutional relationship between students and colleges and universities.  This new constitutional relationship resulted in the courts exploring the applicability of certain constitutional rights to college students.  These rights, commonly discussed in higher education judicial circles today, included due process, privacy, equal protection under the law, gun control, and freedom of speech, press, and religion. These areas, and many others, have been the topic of discussion in APCA Developmentswhere legal issues have been explored and implications for practice were presented for student affairs practitioners.

This is my last contribution to Developments, and this fact has resulted in some reflection on how far we have come in protecting student’s rights while creating a safe, healthy, and diverse educational environment that promotes student development and growth.  It has resulted in a personal retrospective of my own experience as an administrator responsible for enforcing institutional policy while protecting student’s rights, all the time trying to utilize professional and ethical standards.  It is not just a question of what is legal, in many cases, but what is fundamentally fair and just.  Our standard ought not to be whether we are operating within what the law requires but, rather, how do we conduct a fundamentally fair and just process where the rights of both the accused and the accuser are protected.  Applying that higher standard of being fundamentally fair and just is tested directly in Title IX cases of sexual assault.

Particularly difficult are those cases that involve alcohol and acquaintance rape. These cases usually involve alcohol consumption and questions of whether the sexual involvement was consensual.  These cases are complicated further by the fact that they may involve criminal activity (i.e., rape), but often we elect, as an institution, not to report a potential crime to police.  Though there may be good rationale for not reporting this criminal activity, whether this is educationally and developmentally sound practice remains unclear.  Are we actually enabling irresponsible behaviors because students know they will be protected by the institution and not be held responsible by the outside world for their actions?  The 18-year-old adult not enrolled in college would face criminal prosecution for similar behavior.  Are we being fair and just to all students by protecting a handful from criminal prosecution?  An actual case may help to understand how these issues play out in sexual assault cases.

Last fall, as I was beginning to think about this final column in ACPA Developments, I saw an article in the September 6, 2011 issue of  Inside Higher Education (IHE) entitled, “New Scrutiny for Sex Assault Cases”.  I thought this would be the perfect topic on which to write because it addressed issues that require administrators to go beyond basic legal requirements to provide a fundamental fair and just process for all parties.  Little did I know at the time how prophetic this choice was and how sexual assault would affect me professionally, as well as the University to which I have given 28 years of my life.  As the reports of child abuse unfolded at Penn State, my reaction was a variety of emotions and a tendency to hide from this topic.  Sexual assault involving campus constituencies, regardless of whether it’s abuse of students or children, raises similar issues.   In time, however, I was able to move beyond the sorrow and anger I was feeling and realized that understanding the legal and ethical requirements in sexual assault cases will help to understand policy and practice that can be applied equally to cases of child abuse.  What follows is not a discussion of the situation at Penn State, where legal process and investigations will determine guilt, dysfunction and remedies to be applied in the future.  However, the resolution of sexual assault cases in recent years can provide student affairs administrators with some guidelines to a fundamentally fair and just process in resolving these cases.

In Doe v. University of the South 687 F. Supp. 744 (E.D. Tenn. 2009), after an encounter on August 30, 2008, between the plaintiff Doe (a male student) and a female student, the female student filed a complaint with the University alleging rape.  The University’s Title IX sexual assault policy and procedures requires that a student be notified within five class days after a complaint has been filed.  The Dean appoints an investigator who interviews students and witnesses involved  and, where possible, obtains written statements.  The accused and accuser are each asked to provide written accounts of the incident and each is provided with a consultant, one character witness, and a 24-hour notice of the hearing date and time.   On September 17, John Doe was asked by the Dean’s office to attend a meeting with the Dean of Students on the morning of September 18.  That morning, he was informed of the charges, given statements of witnesses, informed of the hearing scheduled for September 19, 2008, and told to bring a character witness to the hearing.  Doe was quizzed on his written statement by the appointed investigator before the hearing.  Doe did not hear the hearing investigator’s oral testimony and was allowed in the hearing only during his own and his character witness’ testimony.  He was informed later that day that he was found guilty and given two options: suspension for one semester with the assault remaining on his record or suspension for two semesters with no record of the assault and the option to reapply for admission.  He was informed of the right to appeal but was told the Vice Chancellor might increase the punishment and the complainant might file criminal charges.  He accepted the two-semester suspension but appealed the decision. The Vice Chancellor upheld the original decision.  Doe never reapplied for admission but sued in federal court.

As IHE reported, the case was tried before a jury in Federal Court and found that the institution was negligent in the application of its sexual assault policies.  John Doe was awarded damages of lost tuition.  Further complicating this case was the fact, revealed during the trial, that the female had medical issues requiring medications to control mood, narcolepsy, and these had been combined with consumption of alcohol at levels higher than she had experienced before.  The hearing committee ignored any information about her medical condition and alcohol consumption. The statement she gave to the committee was erroneous because she claimed that she had no alcohol for four hours prior to seeing Doe.  The hearing committee had acknowledged that Doe thought the sex was consensual and that the committee lacked information about alcohol consumption and her incapacitated condition.  In these cases sometimes, institutions will not consider certain facts in order to protect the victim.  Other institutions seem to go out of their way to protect the accused.  The difficulty in a “he said – she said” case is finding that balance between both the rights of the alleged victim and the accused.  Although I could not find the specific counts of negligence by the University found at trial, there are a number of process issues that appear to have been ignored as the institution seemed to have rushed to get this situation behind them.  In this case, it appears not handing the case over to the authorities may have actually been detrimental to the accused student.

In April of 2011, the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights issued a letter providing guidelines for institutions to follow in enforcing Title IX regulations involving sexual harassment and sexual violence. The statistic on sexual violence are that “1 in 5 women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault in college” while 6.1% of males are victims of similar sexual violence (p. 2).  The letter set out specific guidelines that institutions should follow in assessing their policies and procedures surrounding sexual harassment and assault.  The letter describes a grievance procedure that institutions should implement to handle these cases and provides that institutions are allowed to use disciplinary procedures in place of a grievance procedure for cases of sexual violence (p.8).  The letter argues that the standard to prove guilt used in Title IX grievances be “the preponderance of evidence” (i.e., it is more likely than not that sexual harassment or violence occurred) (p. 11).  OCR objects to the “clear and convincing” language (i.e., it is highly probable or reasonably certain that sexual harassment or violence occurred) (p. 11).  I would argue that the “preponderance” standard should be applied where sexual harassment is at issue.  However, I would recommend that in cases of sexual violence that the institution’s disciplinary procedures be followed judiciously and the “clear and convincing” standard be applied as proof of guilt.   Using this standard will achieve balance of a fundamentally fair and just process that protects the rights of both the victim and the accused.

Sexual assaults involve violations of laws and are considered criminal acts.  I realize there is a desire to protect victims when acquaintance rape involves students on college campuses.  The result is that, many times, there is a tendency to handle these cases within the institution because either the victim requests confidentiality or the institution bases its decision on the concepts of in loco parentis.As a result no criminal charges are filed.   Are we enablers when we insulate students from responsibility for their actions?  Many of these cases involve excessive alcohol consumption. Are we enabling excessive alcohol consumption by insulating college students from criminal prosecution for sexual assault?  Is the college or university an enclave where the community is a protected environment for experimentation? Is the extension of this rationale what resulted in Penn State’s failure to report alleged sexual abuse to civil authorities?  The jury is still out on that question, but perhaps we need to rethink policies were we are handling criminal activity internally instead of reporting it to appropriate authorities. This may be legal but is it fundamentally fair, just and educationally sound?  Making distinctions between what is legal and what is fundamentally fair and just may be helpful in leading to educationally sound policy and practice.

From One Dupont Circle: Quarterly Update

From One Dupont Circle: Quarterly Update

Gregory Roberts
ACPA Executive Director

Welcome to Spring 2012!  It is difficult to believe that we are already well into the year 2012.  This is a milestone year for the Association, as we will honor our profession with 88 years of service from ACPA.  What a contribution to student affairs and higher education!  If you would be interested in planning the 90th Anniversary Celebration of ACPA in Indianapolis, please share your information with me.

Since my last column there hasn’t been much happening on the national scene as Congress was in recess for much of that time.  The tax issues still remain on the docket and ultimately, the impact on states and public higher education has yet to be seen.

I am pleased to announce several significant discussions that are taking place with international colleagues in Canada, Kenya, Barbados and Qatar as a result of recent visits and discussions with student affairs educators in these countries.   The field of student affairs is growing and the value added components to a holistic education is being recognized world-wide.  We must continue to remain open to differences and new ways of enhancing student learning across multiple venues and cultures.  The key word for the future is “global”.  With access to technology, our country is an influential member of our growing interconnected world.

I had the honor of representing ACPA at a Gulf Conference in Doha, Qatar at Education City and found the reception to be outstanding.   We have several members working at the Qatar Foundation and providing guidance to the education system as related to student affairs/services.  There is tremendous interest in advancing the total educational experience of students, and ACPA is pleased to provide our support and assistance as this initiative develops.  Many thanks to Denny Roberts and his staff for a job well done.

Were you one of the many who participated with our MeetUps, or our open discussions with Heidi Levine and myself, involved in outreach with past ACPA presidents, state presidents, Foundation Board members, and  faculty?  If not, we invite you to watch for additional opportunities.  We want to hear directly from you about your involvement with the Association.   The initial feedback from these conversations was the foundation of two recent meetings of the Governing Board as we began the strategic planning process for the next “cycle” – 2013-2018.

Small working groups are taking the feedback and working to further develop strategic priorities for the Association that will be the basis of our strategic plans. Watch for ongoing information in the Presidents blog and in eCommunity each week.

Recent outcomes of the many volunteer hours from our members include:

  • Approved Credentialing Program
  • Institutional Leadership Councils
  • International Advisory Council
  • Generativity Revisited Resource for Grad Prep Programs
  • Humanitarian Award to Muhammad Ali

You can read all the details of the list of activities on the Web site in our weekly eCommunity. By the time you read this, I hope to have met you during the ACPA Convention in Louisville!

Until next time,


From the Editor

From The Editor

John L. Garland
Associate Editor-cum-Acting Editor
Alabama State University

This exciting issue of Developments presents readers with several opportunities for celebration as well as several opportunities for thoughtful reflection. Rarely does the Developments Associate Editor-cum-Acting Editor have the opportunity to introduce such broad offerings.

Kicking off the celebrations (literally) is the BIG announcement that our Editor, Amanda Suniti Niskode-Dossett who, along with her husband and partner, welcomed Malati Norah into the world on January 4th.  We are all very excited, or at least I am, because we have our fingers crossed that Malati inherits her mom’s exceptional editorial skills! We also pay tribute to our longest serving columnist, Robert Hendrickson, who is retiring. Appropriately, Jason Lane and Jeffrey Sun share their thoughts on Robert’s many contributions to higher education and ACPA.

This year we are also celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Student Personnel Point of View (SPPV).  ACPA’s current and incoming presidents, Heidi Levine and Keith Humphrey teamed up to remind us how important the SPPV has been and continues to be for organizing the important work of our profession. Following their insightful article, Sally Click and Michael Coomes reflect on Melvene Draheim Hardee’s speech celebrating SPPV’s 50th Anniversary from 1987. They reflect on the importance of the 50th Anniversary celebration and reintroduce Hardee’s speech (which is reprinted in its entirety). Together, the SPPOV 75th Anniversary articles are an extraordinary read and I encourage you to grab a cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite beverage, sit back, and enjoy this amazing journey through time as we revisit the past and consider the future of student affairs.

This issue also kicks off a new series coordinated by the Standing Committee on Disability focused on Universal Design.  Melanie Thompson explains why Universal Design is important to facilitating student development and learning in higher education. As if that weren’t enough, this issue also includes important perspectives from our colleagues in the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS). Executive Directors Jennifer Hamilton of CACUSS and ACPA’s Greg Roberts explore strengthening our alliance through deeper understanding of the similarities and unique differences in student affairs practice on both sides of our shared border. This issue also explores policy considerations related to differential treatment for campus residents who violate the law, and an in depth article with an analysis of today’s transfer student experience.

Our ongoing Legal and Global Affairs columns from Robert Hendrickson and Jason Lane, respectively, are thought provoking and insightful as usual – and both are a must read.  In addition, you will continue to find discussion questions following each article. These questions are designed to facilitate reflection, discussion, and professional development. We hope you take advantage of this developmental opportunity to share your own thoughts and reactions with colleagues as you peruse this issue of Developments.

Happy Reading and Happy Spring!


John L. Garland, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at Alabama State University.