From the President

From the President

ACPA President Jeanne Steffes

Thank you for making the 2006 ACPA Convention a great success! We had more than 4000 guests join us in Indianapolis.  It was truly an honor for so many of you to join us as part your yearly professional renewal; a time to seek out new ways and ideas to serve students in the future and also to process and reflect upon this past year.  For many, the 2006 ACPA Indianapolis experience offered a chance to seek out a new professional opportunity or fill an important position in your efforts to continue to be a dynamic student affairs organization. For some, the 2006 Convention was an opportunity to introduce yourself to the profession as a new guest! I hope that you felt welcomed and will be back to join us next year in Orlando for the 2007 ACPA/NASPA Joint Meeting (March 31- April 4, 2007)!  It has been quite an eventful few months. This issue of the President’s column is to thank so many people for their leadership efforts this past year and to shed a bit of light on the next steps for ACPA for the 2006-2007 year. What a year it will be but first a look back with gratitude.

I want to take time a moment to thank a number of people who have helped ACPA grow, prosper and continue to provide our members and prospective partners with their enduring leadership and commitment to the profession.  First I would like to thank Dr.Gregory Blimling for his leadership this past year in serving as President of ACPA. Thank you Greg for your many gifts to assist the association this past year!  I want to take some time to honor and thank the members of the 2006 Convention Planning Committee led by Convention Chair Boyd Yarbrough, The Furman University and Vasti Torres, Indiana University-Bloomington who served as the Program Chair. I would also like to thank:

  • Jason Cassidy, Logistics Chair, The Furman University
  • Ray Quirolgico, Pre-Convention Programs, University of San Francisco
  • Robin Diana, General Programs, Rochester Institute of Technology;
  • Megan Palmer, Sponsored Programs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Myra Morgan, Major Speakers, University of Florida
  • Tom Bowling, Next Generation, Frostburg State University
  • Lori Patton, Local Arrangements, Iowa State University
  • Heather Webb, Hospitality, Purdue University
  • Danielle DeSawal, Volunteers, Indiana University-Bloomington
  • Deb Casey-Powell, Access, Florida Atlantic University
  • Ruby Brown-Herring, Marketing, Duke University
  • Leslie Rand-Pickett, Publications, North Carolina State University
  • Beau Seagraves, Special Events, Presbyterian College
  • Linda Jameison, Exhibits/Partners, Presbyterian College
  • Mike D’Attilio, Placement Coordinator, The College of St. Rose
  • Peter Brown, ACPA International Office
  • Jeffrey Brown, Registration, Clemson University
  • Darren Kaltved, Opening Event, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Susan Johnson, Theme Tracks/Special Events, Indiana University-Bloomington
  • RJ Holmes, Convention Showcase, Cornell College
  • Scott Eckhardt, Evaluations, Loyola College of Maryland
  • Tom Jackson, General Programs, Texas A & M University- Kingsville

Special thanks also to T.Todd Masman from Bemidji State University for his efforts to coordinate the Awards Reception and Luncheon and to John Mueller, Indiana University of Pennsylvania for coordinating the major award processes. Job well done and congrats again to all of the award winners!

The 2006 Placement Coordinating group set up another incredible service for our participants and helped schedule more than 9000 interviews for approximately 1000 candidates and more than 700 employers. Many thanks to:

  • Mike D’Attilio and  Dennis MacDonald, The College of Saint Rose
  • Michelle Myers-Brown,University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • John Bradac, Ithaca College
  • Idonas Hughes, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Jennifer Bevins, Tufts University
  • Peter Brown, from the ACPA International Office

There is another group of leaders who I have come to know well the past couple of years and greatly respect-the ACPA Scholar/Practitioners who served as editors and leaders of our publications. As you know ACPA’s publications,Journal of College Student Development, About Campus, Books and Media Group, and Developments, are some of our “crown jewels” of the Association. Susan Jones, University of Maryland, did a great job to help coordinate these efforts as the Chair of the Generation and Dissemination of Knowledge Core Council. Special thanks to Florence Hamrick and John Schuh from Iowa State University for JCSD; Marcia Baxter-Magolda, Miami University (Ohio) and Peggy Meszaros, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for About Campus; Nancy Evans from Iowa State University for the ACPA Books and Media; and Richard Stevens, Editor, Developments, Shepherd University , and Amy Hirschy, Associate Editor, Developments, University of Louisville. I would also like to thank Liz Whitt from the University of Iowa for her leadership with the Senior Scholars Program and Chris Strong, SUNY-Potsdam for their work with the Senior Student Affairs Practitioners Program.

It was a very productive year for the ACPA Executive Council and the Association.  Those members who completed their term of office this past March included:

  • Lynn Willett, Past-President, Coastal Carolina College
  • Joe Onofrietti, Director of Core Council for Membership and Interests Services Emmanuel College
  • Susan Jones, Director of Core Council for Generation and Dissemination of Knowledge, University of Maryland
  • Heidi Levine, Director of Commissions, State University of New York, Geneseo
  • Myrna Hernandez, Chair for the Standing Committee for Women, University of Minnesota-Mankato
  • Matthew Helm, Chair for the Standing Committee for Men, Michigan State University
  • Boyd Yarbrough, 2006 Convention Chair, The Furman University
  • Teri Hall, Director of Core Council for Outreach and Advocacy; Towson University

Thank you kindly for your immeasurable service to the Association. We are a better organization because of your leadership!

Those Executive Council members who served this past year and who are returning the 2006-2007 Council include:

  • Greg Blimling, Past-President, Rutgers University/New Brunswick
  • Ann Groves Lloyd, Director of State and International Divisions, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Carla Jones, Director of Core Council for Professional Issues, University of Kansas
  • Kent Porterfield, Director of Core Council for Professional Development, Northwest Missouri State University;
  • Julie Bell-Elkins, Treasurer, University of Connecticut
  • Kristan Cilente, Chair for the Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals, University of Maryland
  • John Fox, Chair for the Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Awareness, University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Mary Tregoning, Chair for the Standing Committee on Disability, University of California-Riverside
  • Ronald Jackson, Chair for Committee on Multicultural Awareness, Marymount Manhattan College
  • Kevin Bailey, Director of the Core Council for Membership Interests and Services, Tulane University
  • Tracey Wright, Affirmative Action Officer, Appalachian State University
  • Katie Sermersheim, Director of Commissions, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
  • Karen Myers, Director of Core Council for Outreach and Advocacy; St. Louis University
  • Cathy McHugh-Engstrom, Director for Core Council for Generation and Dissemination of Knowledge, Syracuse University
  • Jill Carnaghi, 2007 ACPA/NASPA Joint Meeting Chair, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Gregory Roberts, ACPA Executive Director and Senior Operating Officer

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Executive Council for their work this year. It was a pleasure to work with all of them this past year!

I also want to share the names of those Executive Council Members who are newly elected members and have come to the council full of energy and a willingness to serve their association, they are:

  • Vasti Torres, President-Elect, Indiana University-Bloomington
  • Jodie Castanza, Chair for the Standing Committee for Women, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
  • Michael Strong, Chair for the Standing Committee for Men, University of Akron
  • Melissa Jones, Director-Elect for State and International Divisions, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • John Hernandez, Director-Elect for the Core Council for Professional Development, Santiago Canyon College
  • Kathleen Gardner, Director-Elect for Core Council for Professional Issues, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

A Review of the President-Elect’s Last Year’s Efforts

During the 2006 ACPA Convention in Indianapolis I shared my goals and projects that I hoped to work on for the upcoming year as President.  Before I share those goals I wanted to give you an update on a couple of this past year’s efforts:

  • Professional Development Program on Multicultural CompetenceThis professional development program is in the final development stage. The curriculum was designed by Raechele Pope, University at Buffalo- State University of New York, Amy Reynolds from Buffalo State College, and John Mueller,Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The project is being assisted by Kent Porterfield from Northwest Missouri State University. We await the completion of a partnership in order to fund the pilot project of this initiative.
  • Learning Reconsidered 2. The joint ACPA/NASPA national committee convened in fall 2006 and the document was released in March 2006. Copies of the book can be purchased one this website and a web version will soon be available to download. More to come on this soon!
  • ACPA Statement Ethical Principles and Standards ApprovedAn updated ACPA Ethics Statement was approved at the Convention. The Ethics Committee, co-chaired by Dean Kennedy and Penny Pasque has been tasked to create and publish an executive summary or practitioner’s version. This version should be available later this year.

A Look at the Year Ahead

The two main Presidential Goals that I have for the 2006-2007 year are to focus on completing the tasks associated with the ACPA Governance Taskforce and Sustainability.

  • ACPA Governance Taskforce (GTF). An ACPA Governance Taskforce was established to examine the operational and organizational opportunities and barriers of the Association. Patty Perillo, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, facilitated this task force. This group has worked for over 16 months to listen to member voices and respond to needs of our Association. Please visit the taskforce page to retrieve updated information. It isvery important that you are aware and a part of this conversation!
  • ACPA Sustainability Taskforce (STF)As some of you might know the United Nations as declared 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.  I think this is a very important and timely topic for our profession to consider as we contemplate the future of our world. I have asked the co-chair of this global effort Dr. Debra Rowe, Oakland Community College (MI) to work with us on this national effort. When we traditionally think of sustainability we think about the environment and that piece is only one component of the larger milieu.  Dr. Rowe suggests that sustainability is working toward “healthy social systems, healthy ecosystems, and a healthy economy.”  If you think about  our roles as college student educators we help build and foster ethical and just social systems, ecosystems that are connected to us and through us with civic engagement and we are and help sustain significant economic and intellectual engines around the nation and world.

I have asked Kathleen Gardner and Boyd Yarbrough to help lead a national effort with Dr. Rowe’s assistance to see how ACPA can be a leader in sustainability in higher education. A group will be convening soon to set the agenda, strategize, and outline what theoretical and practical contributions ACPA leaders and members can make to this important effort.

 Much Deserved THANK YOU to the ACPA International Office!

I would be remiss in this column if I did not give thanks to the wonderful work of the staff in the ACPA International Office. Their work many times goes unseen by the membership but many times their work is the backbone of the association and allows the volunteers leaders to be as productive and motivated to serve the membership as we hope to be. Special thanks to Stephanie Chaney, Jennifer Garcia, Jennifer Kelly, Michael Hernandez, Jacqueline Skinner, Dottie Seville, Ron Campbell, Rita Bowers, Shilo Lillis, Cynthia Johnson, and again many thanks to Peter Brown for his Convention assistance, and Greg Roberts for his wisdom, energy, and vision to help all of us in our current and aspiring roles as college student educators.

Thank you again for all of the many kindnesses that you have shared with me this past year. I look forward to serving as the ACPA President for 2006-2007. Your collective gifts to our Association are greatly appreciated and your impact on and to our students are immeasurable!

Practical Ethics: Using ACPA’s New Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards

Practical Ethics: Using ACPA’s New Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards

When it is time to solve a problem, theory and practice are often seen as leading to different courses of action. A comment such as, “That’s all well and good in theory, but let’s be practical about it,” is the standard way to frame this conflict. A different approach, attributed to Kurt Lewin, is “There’s nothing as practical as a good theory”. I subscribe to the Lewinian approach and believe that a good theory can provide guidelines for practice that are both strong and flexible. The newly revised Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards provides us with an updated set of guidelines to support us in ethical decision-making and behavior as student affairs professionals. This approach is grounded in several theories that are shaped into an integrated model for decision making. As our roles and responsibilities have become more complex, we have needed an updated ethical framework that incorporates the changing cultural, personal and technological dimensions of the work we do with students, parents, colleagues, donors, vendors and members of governing agencies. The governing bodies of the Association should be justifiably pleased with adopting this framework since it contributes to the ongoing ethical development and practice of our profession.

Now that we have the revised statement, how do we use it? The new statement has two overarching purposes: 1) to help members in making their own decisions about ethical practice and 2) to give guidance to members who observe external conditions that seem to challenge the ethical standards we have adopted. Monitoring one’s own professional behavior is a daunting task. Rising to the challenge of addressing ethical dilemmas in our work environments, particularly issues presented by the behavior and decisions of others, is also extremely difficult.

When an ethical challenge arises, the first question to be faced is who will potentially be harmed. Consider the following examples:

  • A supervisor becomes intimately and sexually involved with one of his or her subordinates. Who is likely to be harmed by this relationship? The possibilities include the subordinate staff member if the relationship ends, the other staff members who assume or observe preferential treatment on the job, and the students served by this office if they have any concerns about that staff member’s work and realize that any complaints may not receive a fair hearing.
  • An academic advisor accepts a student’s desire to continue re-enrolling in courses that the student has repeatedly failed without doing a thorough review of that student’s preparation for those courses. Is the student harmed by this behavior?
  • A hall director suspects that a student has been cutting herself, but doesn’t take time to speak with the student because she has had an argument with her. Is that behavior potentially harmful to the student or her friends?
  • A program advisor allows a group to hire one of its own members to act as DJ at a party without discussing with the group the potential conflict of interests implied in that decision.

In the course of a day, dozens of situations may arise which have ethical implications and of which we may be unaware. When we become aware of ethical challenges, the ethical response is often not the easiest response or even the first response that comes to mind. An ethical practitioner must be a reflective practitioner as well.

It is important to take time when uncomfortable situations arise, or when we have a sense that the reaction chosen was not the best one, to rethink that reaction or decision at the end of the day. “Was anybody likely to be harmed by what I did?” is a very good question for reflection. If the answer to that question is yes, the rest of the statement provides guidelines for methods of addressing the issue or reviewing the decision. Any harm that may have occurred because of a lack of awareness, thoughtlessness or the simple pressure of too many things to do can then be remedied.

Noticing behavior or decisions in the work environment and deciding what to do about them, if anything, is usually more difficult than monitoring your own behavior. A decision to confront a colleague or to raise uncomfortable questions about a policy always has political as well as ethical consequences. The first step in the Association guidelines for addressing ethical issues is to speak with the person or persons about the situation of concern. How do you decide when to speak? Rion (1996) suggests that we ask ourselves why the situation is bothering us, who else might be involved and whether or not we are personally responsible for causing or resolving this problem.  Before we decide to speak, we should also examine our professional ethical guidelines, the norms of the campus community and our personal beliefs about fairness and justice, right and wrong. Buddhist practice suggests that these conversations should be initiated when the initiator is fairly sure that good will result. If the initiator is troubled by the situation or behavior, believes that others may be hurt and thinks that the person to be confronted has an open mind, then the initiator should raise the concerns. If initiating such a conversation might cause more harm than good, the concerned person should find another approach to raise the issue in the community. In any case, serious reflection is an important part of a decision about whether to raise an ethical question with a colleague

These conversations can be conducted most skillfully and respectfully when the community is used to talking about ethical issues. Brown has called for the creation of ethical communities on our campuses in order to create contexts for dialogue (1985). Anyone who speaks out about ethics (or any other difficult topic) as a solitary voice may be heard as a blamer, a person who considers her or himself as more virtuous than others. When ethical issues are raised in a community where such conversations are the norm, dialogue is more likely to proceed effectively and without blame. The community is committed to ethical practices and to dialogue as a method of discerning ethical responses to difficult situations. Therefore a person who asks for a conversation about an ethical dilemma is one who is helping the community live up to its own standards.

Creating an ethical community is not simple or easy. It is fraught with conflict and characterized by the tension between theory and practice. Avoiding conflict is not the goal in ethical discourse. Engaging conflict gracefully and respectfully is the goal. One aspect of the new ACPA statement is that conflict is an inevitable part of the conversation. The complexity of our campuses and the broad range of cultures that shape the perspectives of people in our campus communities makes conflict inevitable. I believe that the most effective approach to enliven ACPA’s Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards is discuss ethical standards as a framework for our practice before we have specific ethical conflicts to consider. We need to train ourselves to engage in discourse about differences of value and opinion in a respectful manner in much the same way that we train our students to manage their emotions or respect cultural differences. I hope that ACPA members will examine the new statement and take some time to think about the ethical standards and practices on their own campuses. You may wish to organize professional development seminars and discussions on your own campus where people can talk about the content of our new statement or create case study events for staff members, including student staff.  Another potential use of the new statement is to open conversations with faculty colleagues so that they understand what ethical approaches are used by our profession. Bring the issue of ethics to the table – the lunch table, the committee table, and the tables where policies are constructed.

Several years ago, Margaret Wheatley addressed a session of the ACPA Convention and made a suggestion for provoking change and conversation on our campuses. She said that we should use what we have learned, not to lecture people about our new wisdom, but rather to raise questions about the status quo and engage in conversation about current conditions and our hopes for the future. That approach involves everyone in the creation of a dialogue about our shared professional lives. I urge members of this Association to read the new statement and use it to raise questions about our common work on campus, not because we are doing things wrong, but because we always have the opportunity to improve ourselves for the benefit of our profession and our students.


  • Brown, R. (1985). Creating an ethical community. In H. Canon & R. Brown (Eds.), Applied ethics in student services. (New Directions for Student Services No. 30, pp.67-79). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Rion, M. (1996). The responsible manager. Amherst, MA: Human Resources Press.