From the Editor – Fall 2015

I am always struck by the seasons of transition – fall and spring. My own life has been filled with several transitions the past few months: moving to a new role in the profession as a faculty member at Sam Houston State University; a new city and state, with all the excitement, trepidation, and cost associated; and attempting to increase healthy habits in my life: more regular exercise, better eating, sleeping, and more down time.

I hope during this autumn of transition you will find time to begin thinking, implementing, or considering transitions in your life. One place to begin is thinking about partnerships. In this issue, Dr. Cindi Love, ACPA Executive Director, discusses the importance of partnerships to our professional work and obligations as higher education and college student educators.  Strategically our partnerships are about relationships – those people, places, sentient beings, and materials that help us thrive. Dr. Love’s piece reminds me that cultivating these relationships is critical to our success as professionals.

This issue contains some insightful research.  Danny Zebb’s article on college men and spirituality not only introduces a new concept to my lexicon, the sacred narrative, but reminds us that spirituality occurs on campus daily.  How men navigate and understand this spirituality is important.  Krista Soria and Brandon Alkire provide insights on the continued importance of understanding sense of belonging on campus. Their article presents research on Native American college students.

Our Feature Articles continue a long tradition of thought-provoking scholarship.  Jason Lane discusses the importance of expanding access to Study Abroad for students, as well as how campuses can build partnerships to do so.  Marisa Vernon speaks to the power of partnering with transient students on two-year campuses, not only to ensure their success, but also for purposes of enhancing institutional success.  In our Ethical Issues column, Anne Hornak provides insights from Dr. Stan Carpenter on ethics in practice.

Lastly, there are two pieces I would consider reflective from faculty members in the profession.  Jacqueline Hodes discusses the transition into faculty life, providing insights for college student educators seeking to build partnerships with faculty. Matthew Shupp discusses what he learned about becoming a better Ally during the ACPA 2015 convention.

Lastly, I hope you will read Gavin Henning’s update, which discusses his upcoming Presidential Symposium. Enjoy your fall semester and this issue of Developments.

Fulfilling our Promise to Students: Fostering and Demonstrating Student Learning and Success

The benefit of June, July, and August on many college campuses is that the pace slows down allowing time for reflection and planning for the coming academic year. I’ve spent those months continuing to consider our role as college student educators in fostering student learning and success.

Currently, a great deal of focus is on student learning in higher education. President Obama’s completion agenda centers on post-secondary certificate or degree completion and the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ (AACU) (n.d.) Essential Learning Outcomes and the Lumina Foundation’s (2015) Degree Qualification Profile (DQP) identify the knowledge and skills United States college graduates should have. There are increasing calls for accountability from a variety of constituencies inside and outside higher education. As part of this call for accountability, the federal government is requesting demonstration of learning outcomes. In addition, legislatures, parents, and students are seeking validation of the return on their financial investment in higher education. And, employers are lamenting that college graduates do not possess critical knowledge and skills to effectively perform in the workforce. There is a great deal at stake for higher education if we cannot foster learning and then demonstrate what students acquire from their college experience. While accountability is one reason higher education needs to focus on student learning, it should not be the only reason. Our job is students’ education and we should be able to demonstrate our role in it.

While the current focus on accountability in higher education is centered on student learning across the entire collegiate experience, college student educators should be able to articulate the unique impact we have on student learning. To be an equal partner on campus and compete for valuable resources we need to be able to effectively articulate our contributions to student success. In a resource deficient collegiate environment decisions regarding financial allocations are based (or at least should be) on evidence of contribution to the educational mission of the institution. We need to focus on fostering and documenting student learning and success to demonstrate the connection to that mission. ACPA – College Student Educators International is providing an opportunity this fall to assist in achieving this goal.

ACPA will sponsor the 2015 Presidential Symposium: Fulfilling Our Promise to Students: Fostering and Demonstrating Student Learning and Success on September 29th from 1pm-5pm ET/12pm-4pm CT/11am-3pm MT/10am-2pm PT. This is an innovative, action-oriented, engaging educational opportunity with a live event hosted by our friends at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and “campus participation parties” across the North America. Our goal is to create a learning community of more than 5000 people for the world’s largest online professional development event.

An activity focusing on student learning would not be a quality one if it did not have its own learning outcomes. As a result of attending this event, participants will be able to:

  • Describe benefits of increasing accountability for student learning and development;
  • Identify current state of affairs regarding accountability for student learning and development; and
  • Articulate guidelines, strategies, and methods for improving accountability for student learning and development.

The symposium will be composed of three content modules guided by the following questions:

  • Why is it important for colleges and universities to focus on student learning and development?
  • In what ways do student affairs educators foster student learning and development?
  • How can student affairs educators effectively demonstrate our impact?

Each module will be comprised of two 12-15 minute high intensity talks streamed to participants. After each module will be an opportunity for a “campus conversation” allowing individuals at participating campuses to discuss and apply the information to their own context. Individual workbooks and facilitator guides will be distributed for reflection and discussion. Individuals who are not part of an individual campus site will be able to participate at a regional campus site or join hosted virtual conversations with other colleagues. The “campus conversation” after the final module will be dedicated to campus-based action planning identifying ways to improve fostering and demonstrating student learning.

Speakers include Jillian Kinzie, Shaun Harper, Linda Suskie, Amber Garrision Duncan (Lumina Foundation), Karen Solomon (Higher Learning Commission), and Deb Garrett (President of CAS). We also have “bonus” talks, which will be shared with registrants after the event.

All talks will be recorded enabling registered participants to use them for future professional development or in graduate courses. In addition, all materials for the symposium (recordings, manuals, supplemental resources) will be packaged to create a “professional development in a box” that can be used if an individual, department, or division is not able to participate synchronously on September 29th.

Hopefully, you are as excited as we are about this innovative opportunity and want to know how to sign up as an individual, department, division, or graduate preparation program. ACPA wants to make this high-quality educational event cost effective. The cost is a mere $19 per individual or $99 per site (for as many people who can fit into a room to view the streaming). With many webinars running as high as $400 for 60 minutes, this symposium is sure to be the most economical educational events of the academic year.

You can register here. I hope you will join 5000 of your colleagues and participate in the 2015 ACPA Presidential Symposium.


Association of American Colleges adn Universities. (n.d.). Essential learning outcomes. Retrieved from

Lumina Foundation. (2015). Degree qualifications profile. Retrieved from

From One Dupont Circle: Partner

This column is the final in a series about ACPA’s L.A.M.P. (Lead. Amplify. Mobilize. Partner.) strategy for working together as community and as an association.

I want to ask a serious question to each of us in the field of student affairs/life/services/support. How do we best partner and with whom do we partner to advance the field of student learning and development?  We can no longer succeed in isolation.  We must aggressively and effectively partner with our peers in the larger context of higher education in order for students to succeed–persist and complete their college degrees.

Today, retention and persistence to completion are the absolute drivers of the economic health, survival and sustainability of college and university campuses.  Funding models that have traditionally served us are eroding.  The relevancy and value of student affairs work to retention and completion is well-documented in research and one of the best kept secrets on campuses.

Now is the time to ensure that our partners in academic affairs, enrollment, advising, admissions, institutional research and policy makers and legislators know that we are ready and willing to partner to ensure that students succeed.  Now is the time to reach out to them and offer our support, our best research and practices.

As an association, it is our job to listen to the key influencers and help our field navigate changes as they occur, even better to predict them and start early.

A recent article in Educause Review (September/October 2015) entitled “Data, Technology & The Great Unbundling of Higher Education” says it well: “Like the retailer and restaurant markets, the middle of the higher education market is being hollowed out from both the top and the bottom.”  This process is called disintermediation and was predicted as early as two decades ago, investigated at length by leading scholars and featured in the retirement speech of James J. Duderstadt, President Emeritus University Professor of Science and Engineering The University of Michigan.

Duderstadt said

Even more fundamentally, as we enter the new millennium, there is an increasing sense that the social contract between the university and American society may need to be reconsidered and perhaps even renegotiated once again. The ultimate challenge for the university in the 21st Century may be to assist our nation’s evolution into what one might call a society of learning, in which opportunities for learning become ubiquitous and universal, permeating all aspects of our society and empowering through knowledge and education all of our citizens, might be the most appropriate vision for the future of the public university.

There is really no way to say that higher education did not know that disintermediation was on its way and there is no way to deny that it has arrived.

Who prevails in situations where large parts of traditional distribution systems like higher education are eliminated? People who know how to effectively partner and retool themselves rapidly for the reality at hand.

I was at Apple Computer & the TORO Company when they “disintermediated” and eliminated thousands of long-tenured outlets in order to preserve financial margins.  Rather than lose my companies, I partnered.  Jobs were preserved for our employees and we were able to prosper.

It is fair to say that I have a bias for partnerships and I have brought that inclination to ACPA because part of my job is to identify strategies for a sustainable future in a disintermediating world.

Over the last 16 months, we have increased our intentional partnership activities dramatically with our peer organizations, on campuses, on Capitol Hill, with vendors and throughout the globe.

All of us have to reach outside of the people and places that have formed our close-knit communities of influence and interaction and this means we have to be really effective in partnering–the cooperative, coordinated and collaborative relationships that exist between two or more independent persons or groups to (1) increase administrative efficiency and/or (2) programmatic impact through shared, transferred or combined services, resources or programs.

What can these partnerships look like on campuses and between our association and peer groups?  One of my favorite guides for defining effective partnerships was developed by The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta.  They define cooperation, coordination and collaboration and suggest ways we can measure whether we are partnering well.

  • Cooperation – Mutually beneficial administrative and program relationships that may include sharing information, students, professionals, space and other resources. Also includes relationships in which organizations agree to work on projects together.
  • Coordination – Deeper relationships built upon compatible goals (outcomes), joint planning, division of roles and resources and consistent communication channels in which accomplishments are mutually acknowledged. Partners recognize the value in the relationship and develop a supportive partnership infrastructure.
  • Collaboration – The deepest of organizational relationships, where documented expectations and a structure to achieve goals beyond those any individual partner could achieve are in place. Organizations have established long term, ongoing operation of coordinated or cooperative activities and have demonstrated continuity and long-standing trusting relationships.

Successful professional personal and organizational partnerships include, but are not limited to, the following characteristics:

  • Organization or professional has established working partnerships with other organizations or professionals in the campus community that have been in place for more than one year;
  • Organizational or professional partnerships involve significant activities, which may include working to establish common goals, pooling resources, joint planning, implementing and evaluating services, and evaluating services and procedures;
  • Organizational or professional partnerships are guided and executed by an up-to-date Memorandum of Agreements or similar documents.

Think about the partnerships for student success–persistence, retention and completion–in which you are engaged on your campus.  Would the people reviewing your work agree?  Can you measure these partnerships using any of the standards provided?

I think about this challenge a lot.  The world outside of student affairs is measuring student success in very concrete ways.  Are we?  Can we?  Those of us who manage associations have to think in this way as well.  What are the barriers to student success and how do our partnerships contribute or not? Take a moment tomorrow to thank your partners on campus who help you help students.  And, start to identify the partnerships that you need to develop.

I am very proud of ACPA’s partnerships that have formed over the last sixteen months and our long-tenured partners, some of whom have aligned with us for more than 40 years.  I want to name many of them here to illustrate the depth and breadth of relationships that support our mission as ACPA.  And, I want to thank them and thank you for partnering with us to create the best places for students to develop, learn and succeed in the world.





ABCC Association of Black Cultural Centers

Diverse (CHEE) in publication of Best Places


Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Program Professionals (AHEPPP)

Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE)

Campus Labs

Campus Pride


Diversity Collegium Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmark Project

Erik Qualman & What Happens on Campus Stays on YouTube, co-produced with our Task Force on Digital Technology


Foliot Furniture

Forrest T. Jones and Company

Higher Education Forum-The Economist

Johns Hopkins, publisher of Journal of College Student Development (JCSD)

Kevin O’Connell & The Niche Movement

KSQ Architects

Lead365, host for the upcoming Global Student Summit in Montreal

M. Stoner, Higher Ed Live & Student Affairs Live and our own Tony Doody & Heather Shea-Gasser

Minority Male Community College Collaborative National Consortium on College Men of Color

Morgan State University

myPROfolio from our friends at Moodle

NASPA/ACPA Taskforce for Professional Competencies*

Naylor Broadcasting & WorkerBee TV, hosts of ACPA Video On Demand

National Council on Student Development (NCSD)

NODA-Association for Orientation, Transition, Retention in Higher Education

Expanding the Circle 2015 Summer Institute

On Campus Marketing

The Parity Portfolio, The Matterhorn Group, Morgan Stanley

Partnership for Healthier America (PHA) & 26 ACPA Member Colleges/Universities who formed the inaugural cohort honored by First Lady Michelle Obama in DC

Peter Lake, host for the upcoming Title IX Beyond Compliance CEU pre-con in Montreal

Pivot Planet (our new mentoring/content expert matching platform in development)

Public Identity

Public Policy Consortium


The Salesforce Foundation & Fonteva (our new AMS/CRM platform due to release this fall) replacing MemberMax

Saint Louis Community College Corporate College, host of MMI

Saint Louis University host for our series on Racism in the Academy


Stetson University College of Law

Stylus, publisher of many ACPA researchers and scholars*


University of Vermont-Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference

We End Violence producers of Agent of Change Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Software

Wiley, publisher of About Campus

William Spelman Executive Search

College Men at the Intersection of Masculinity & Spirituality

In recognition of the recent 30th anniversary of the Standing Committee on Men & Masculinities (SCMM), the SCMM has launched a series exploring the concept of intersectionality as it relates to collegiate men.  Contributing authors will explore how dimensions of race, religion, gender, and other social identities converge and shape the experiences of college men and how higher education professionals can best assist these students. 

Be a man…but also a man of faith and spirituality?  Missing from the contemporary discourse on college men and intersectionality is an analysis of how college men reconcile and make meaning of their gender (masculinity) and faith/spiritual identities.  This gap is most pronounced with male subgroup populations who have faith, self-identify as spiritual and/or religious, and actively participate in faith-based initiatives (e.g. service, retreat, worship) offered by campus ministries, chaplaincies, and parachurch organizations.  Understanding men as spiritual and religious beings not only gives more breadth and depth to research on college men and masculinities but also provides new possibilities for student affairs practitioners to reconstruct gendered norms on campus.

As the UCLA Spiritualty Study suggests, college students are yearning for these questions, yet faculty and administrators are not adequately responding to the demand (Astin, Astin, & Lindholm, 2011).  By broadening the spectrum of masculinities to include intersections of spirituality and religion, student affairs practitioners can enter into a larger conversation with campus ministry/chaplaincy about serving the gender-specific needs, experiences, and challenges of college men of faith.  Moreover, this discourse continues to move the field of men and masculinities beyond deficit-oriented narratives that identify problems of college men, while offering few solutions for practitioners.

Using intersectionality as a theoretical perspective (Collins, 1990; Crenshaw, 1989, 1991), this thought piece aims to complicate and deepen contemporary understandings of college men’s multiple identities by exploring how faith/spiritual identity (along with race, class, sexuality, ability, etc.) intersects with men’s gender identity (masculinity) and how this intersection informs college men’s development.  To achieve this end, I will situate intersectionality theory in college student development literature, drawing upon historical roots and contemporary applications of intersectionality, including the Intersectional Model of Multiple Dimensions of Identity (IMMDI) (Jones & Abes, 2013).  In order to integrate intersectionality theory into contemporary discourse on college men, I will use a narrative approach grounded in a recent sociological work on sacred narratives (Ammerman, 2013).  This will provide a language and a framework to contextualize and make meaning of three complex and multifaceted narratives of college men of faith.  I will conclude by connecting theoretical understandings of intersectionality and sacred narratives to student affairs practice, providing implications and discussion questions for reflection-based action.

College Men & Intersectionality

Men and masculinities scholars have long called to dismiss singular, essentialist, and dominant/hegemonic forms of masculinity, which value the time-honored depictions of what it means to be a man, in favor of a plurality of masculinities – aptly termed multiple masculinities (Connell, 2005; Kimmel & Messner, 2003).  While this movement within the field has expanded our understanding of men’s gender identity, men and masculinities scholars have often viewed gender (masculinity) as an independent and discrete identity.  As scholarship has evolved, there has been a growing consensus that researchers and practitioners should attend to more than gender identity developmental models alone to more fully understand the experiential realities of college men (Harper, Wardell, & McGuire, 2011).  Harper and colleagues posit that gender cannot be understood in isolation from other identities such as race, class, sexuality, and religion.  This sentiment echoes earlier work by Jones (1997) that suggests the “braiding of gender” (p. 379) with other identities.  Scholarship on multiple identities has recently been refined to reflect aspects of intersectionality theory, as conceptualized in the Intersectional Model of Multiple Dimensions of Identity (IMMDI) (Jones & Abes, 2013).

Historically grounded in the Black feminist and womanist movements (Collins, 1990; Crenshaw, 1989, 1991), intersectionality research has emerged as a distinct, yet overlapping concept with multiple identities.  This concept arose out of Black feminists refusing the ways that white-located feminism consistently attempted to collapse race as a saliently organizing force.  Intersectionality is not simply about the addition of multiple identities, but also the hierarchies of social positioning (Bowleg, 2008; Spade, 2013; Stewart, 2010).  As a critical lens that deconstructs inequality and power structures, intersectionality is inherently connected to social movements.  As Collins (1990) describes, intersectionality is an ongoing “dialectic between oppression and activism” (p. 3); a bottom-up reframing of the issues that shifts limited paradigms of thought from an oversimplification of additive identities to multiple, intersecting axes of privilege and oppression.

Similar to the Black feminist and womanist movements, the field of college men and masculinities has too often taken a single vector approach that universalizes an experience of gender to all men.  This reductionism is potentially harmful, as it can essentialize the experiences of men to dominant identities (e.g. white, male, Christian), while ignoring subpopulations of men who have been historically marginalized and underrepresented in the academy.  Intersectionality theory seeks to transform the larger discourse about college men to include the experiential realities of men who experience multiple privileged and subordinate identities simultaneously.  The next section introduces a narrative approach to college men and intersectionality.

Sacred Narratives of College Men

The sacred narratives of college men provides an opportunity for student affairs practitioners to begin to identify and hold up narratives of college men who are reconciling and successfully integrating their masculinity and spirituality.  Sociologist of religion Nancy Ammerman (2013) explores the power of the sacred narratives in her recent text, Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life.  She sought to discover spirituality in the everyday lives of ordinary American Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, unaffiliated, etc., as spiritual identity and religious affiliation cannot be confined to places of worship.

For Ammerman (2013), narrative is an appropriate method of inquiry for “nonexperts” (p. 7) (i.e. majority of college students), where conceptions of God and the world are communicated and passed down generationally through stories and rituals:

Stories are important, in part, because they are not merely personal.  They exist at the intersection of personal and public…We live inside a range of socially constructed stories that are not always of our own making or even fully conscious to us. (p. 8)

When the sacred narratives of college men are made public and shared broadly throughout the academy, it provides a space for all college men to reimagine what it means to be a college man.  By privileging alternative narratives, it broadens the permissive behaviors of men on college campuses to include spiritual identity and religious affiliation in hopes that all college men, particularly those from marginalized subgroups, may enact their masculinity with greater fluidity and acceptance from their male peer groups.

Through my work as an educator, minister, and scholar, I have encountered countless young men who experience many tensions in their gender and spiritual identities.  In most cases, faith, spirituality, and religion encourage these men to reflect, make meaning, provide service to others, and orient their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors towards more relational and communal ends.  From a gendered perspective, these notions are antithetical to dominant, hegemonic notions of masculinity by which boys and men are socialized, such as fear of femininity, restrictive emotionality, homophobia, insubordination, individualism, competition, power, success, domination, and aggression (Connell, 2005; Kimmel & Messner, 2003).  For many men, an outward spirituality is commonly understood as a violation of masculine norms – something to be shamed – relegated to the periphery as a soft and interior pursuit.  Consequently, the holistic development of college men is rendered incomplete.  Examples of this disintegration are evident in the following case study narratives:

  • John had a strong pre-college religious socialization through his family and faith-based high school experiences. Entering college, John becomes preoccupied with belonging to his male peer group, who hold up sexual activity (i.e. losing one’s virginity) as an essential component of college masculinity and the common male folklore.  John experiences deep tensions between his core religious beliefs and his need for validation from other men.  With no conversation partners on campus to talk about both his masculinity and his strong faith background, John feels even more isolated.  Ultimately, John loses his virginity in order to fit in with his male peers, while privatizing and ignoring the central tenets of his religious upbringing. He still struggles to make meaning of this experience three years later as a senior.
  • Michael has always associated his masculinity with “respect” and “aggression.”  Entering college, he demonstrated this through excessive drinking and violent behaviors with his male peer groups.  However, on the inside, he wrestles with coming out to his male peer group – a conversation he was never comfortable having in high school.  Homophobic slurs continue to keep his sexuality silent for his first two years of college.  As a junior, he finally comes out to his peers and, much to his surprise, is accepted and cared for deeply.  This experience allows him to feel less constricted in his masculinity.  Shortly thereafter, he feels open to explore his spiritual identity for the first time, in order to make meaning of these events.
  • Tyler is caught up in the duality of roles – he is both captain of the basketball team and the leader of an international service-immersion trip.  His peer groups are clearly delineated – his basketball peers validate his masculinity through toughness, aggressiveness, and other hypermasculine behavior, while his service-immersion peers are the only people on campus whom he feels he can be honest and open with.  For example, service-learning experiences are considered to be “girly” by his basketball peers.  Tyler tells the story of returning from his service trip, unclear how to process his emotions, and ultimately, getting “blackout” drunk with his basketball peers.  For many years, he struggles to integrate these two male peer groups, which both represent valuable aspects of person he wants to be.  He fully identifies with both peer groups, but lacks an integrative experience without conversations on campus to explore and process this dichotomy.

These narratives, which should not be essentialized to all men of faith, demonstrate some common struggles that men face in integrating their multiple identities in the midst of the larger sociocultural norms.  They each tell the story of fragmentation and situational identity, as they attempt to reconcile what it means to be a man and what it means to be a person of faith.

For John, Michael, and Tyler, faith, spiritual identity and religious affiliation were often understood as a violation of and threat to masculine gender norms, which caused faith-based conversations and participation in faith-based initiatives (e.g. retreat, service, worship) to be privatized and interiorized.  These men were comfortable enough to share their faith with adult mentors, especially those who facilitated faith-based initiatives and conversation groups; however, they deeply struggled in their male peer groups, where their voices and experiences became marginalized and minimized.  As John, Michael, and Tyler sought to develop their faith, they felt more alienated from their peers and more isolated and unsupported in their faith development.  In response to these disconcerting narratives, the next section provides a practical guide for student affairs professionals.

Integration of Sacred Narratives on Campus

As educators, we need to help college men navigate complex and multifaceted experiences of masculinity and spirituality.  Creating a campus culture that allows men to speak openly and honestly about their spiritual identity and their religious affiliation will inevitably broaden the spectrum of masculinities embraced on college campuses.

This can be achieved through a twofold approach.  First, student affairs practitioners need to identify where sacred narratives are already present on college campus.  As Ammerman (2013) asserts, these narratives do not simply exist in our campus worship communities or spiritual programming (e.g. retreat and service experiences), but across various religious and secular contexts in which college men live their lives.  Once identified, these narratives should be promoted throughout our campus communities.  Second, student affairs practitioners need to provide spaces for college men to share their sacred narratives, such as: 1) in the classroom, through spiritual pedagogy (Astin, 2004) such as journaling, reflection, and centering activities; 2) in retreat programming and gender/women’s resource center programming and events; 3) through panels of college men who describe how they have come to understand what it means to be men and persons of faith on their campuses; and 4) in campus media and publications, through newspaper columns and editorial pieces that provide a space for college men to share their sacred narratives.

True to the foundations of intersectionality, the suggested initiatives should aim to create positive social change through the deconstruction of inequality and power structures.  This can be achieved on both individual and systemic levels.  On an individual level, student affairs practitioners need to be intentional about featuring men of multiple marginalized identities, particularly non-white men, non-Christian men, and men who do not identify as strictly heterosexual.  On a systemic level, it is important to consider the historical dominance of Protestant Christianity in America, as Christian values permeate all institutions of higher learning, not simply Christian institutions.  Student affairs practitioners must be attentive and resistant to systemic oppression religious minorities may experience as a result of membership in a non-Christian group.  One possible response is to collaborate with campus ministry on multi-faith and interfaith initiatives for college men that seek to not only deconstruct hierarchies of faith traditions but also serve the gender-specific needs, experiences, and challenges of college men of faith.

Understanding college men as spiritual beings through the lens of intersectionality complicates contemporary understandings of college men both in theory and practice.  The present piece outlines an alternative way of conceptualizing college men as spiritual beings, grounded in a narrative approach to programming.  Showcasing sacred narratives of college men who have successfully integrated their masculinity and spirituality demonstrates the power of sharing one’s story in the creation of a new normative masculine behavior on college campuses.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do masculinity and spirituality interact, inform, and construct one another?
  2. Where do sacred narratives already exist on my campus?
  3. How does my campus provide space for men to reflect, discuss, and share sacred narratives?


Ammerman, N. T. (2013). Sacred stories, spiritual tribes: Finding religion in everyday life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Astin, A. W. (2004). Why spirituality deserves a central place in liberal education. Liberal Education, 90(2), 34–41.

Astin, A. W., Astin, H. S., & Lindholm, J. A. (2011). Cultivating the spirit: How college can enhance students’ inner lives. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bowleg, L. (2008). When black + lesbian + woman ≠ black lesbian woman: The methodological challenges of qualitative and quantitative intersectionality research. Sex Roles, 59(5-6), 312–325. doi:10.1007/s11199-008-9400-z

Collins, P. H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Boston, MA: UnwinHyman.

Connell, R. W. (2005). Masculinities (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Crenshaw, K. W. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139–167.

Crenshaw, K. W. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299.

Harper, S. R., Wardell, C. C., & McGuire, K. M. (2011). Man of multiple identities: Complex individuality and identity intersectionality among college men. In Masculinities in higher education: Theoretical and practical considerations (pp. 81–96). New York, NY: Routledge.

Jones, S. R. (1997). Voices of identity and difference: A qualitative exploration of the multiple dimensions of identity development in women college students. Journal of College Student Development, 38(4), 376–386.

Jones, S. R., & Abes, E. S. (2013). Identity development of college students: Advancing frameworks for multiple dimensions of identity (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kimmel, M. S., & Messner, M. A. (2003). Men’s lives (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Spade, D. (2013). Intersectional resistance and law reform. Signs, 38(4), 1031–1055. doi:10.1086/669574

Stewart, D. L. (2010). Researcher as instrument: Understanding “shifting” findings in constructivist research. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 47(3), 291–306. doi:10.2202/1949-6605.6130

About the Author

Danny Zepp is a Ph.D. Candidate in Higher Education at Boston College.  His dissertation focuses on the intersection of masculinity and faith in college men’s identity.  Last November, he presented a paper on college men and intersectionality at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE).  In April, he presented a review of literature on college men at the intersection of masculinity and spirituality at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  With over eight years of experience in higher education, Danny has a broad range of expertise in academic and student affairs and campus ministry.  He spent seven years as a first-year orientation and retreat director and pre-major academic advisor.  Danny currently serves as a graduate research and teaching assistant in the higher education program, where his primary role is to coordinate the Boston College Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education (IACHE).  He also serves as a resident minister in a sophomore hall at Boston College.

Please email inquiries to Daniel Zepp.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Elevating Native American College Students’ Sense of Belonging in Higher Education

Native American students are an underrepresented minority group in higher education, representing less than 1% of all college-going students in the United States (Ginder & Kelly-Reid, 2013).  Although they represent a small proportion of the college student population in the United States, it is important to research Native American students’ experiences in higher education.  For decades, scholars have documented the persistent challenges encountered by Native American college students, which can include lack of role models, feelings of isolation, racial discrimination, and a cultural mismatch in higher education (Garrod & Larimore, 1997; Larimore & McClellan, 2005).  These barriers are coupled by the challenges of being a non-traditional student, with many studies showing that the majority of Native American students are the first in their families to attend higher education, are employed while in college, have dependents, and live in poverty (American Indian College Fund Data, 2011).  The confluence of these factors contributes to higher dropout rates among Native American students: only 39% of Native American first-time, full-time students who started college in 2005 graduated within four years, compared to 60% of White students (Knapp, Kelly-Reid, & Ginder, 2012).

There is a significant lack of research about Native American students in higher education.  The majority of studies exploring factors associated with Native American students’ success in higher education feature qualitative designs, have smaller sample sizes, or are derived from single-institution samples (Jackson, Smith, and Hill, 2003; Larimore & McClellan, 2005; Okagaki, Helling, & Bingham, 2009).  Jackson et al. (2003) discovered family support, structured social support, the warmth of faculty and staff, and reliance upon spiritual resources contributed to Native American undergraduates’ retention.  The purpose of the present research study was to expand upon prior research by examining factors associated with Native American college students’ sense of belonging in higher education.  To expand upon prior research, we utilized a large sample size of Native American students within a quantitative, multi-institutional analysis.

This research is unique in that the primary dependent variable in this analysis was students’ sense of belonging, a concept that Hausmann, Schofield, and Woods (2006) connected to students’ retention.  Yet, we approach sense of belonging cautiously when considering the unique experiences of Native American college students.  Native American students experience a great degree of stress in higher education because many feel forced to choose between assimilating into the dominate culture as a means of achieving academic success and maintaining ties to their traditional culture by resisting dominant assimilation (Larimore & McClellan, 2005).  For many Native American students, these choices can mean breaking away from family and home communities or dropping out of higher education.  Some researchers have suggested Native American students who are able to connect with their cultural identity and also adapt to the demands of campus life are more likely to succeed in meeting their educational goals (Huffman, 2001).


The Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey is administered annually within a consortium of large, public research universities that are members of the Association of American Universities.  All sets of items used in the present study were derived from the SERU survey or provided by the institutional research offices at participating campuses.  The SERU survey contains over 600 items, and the purpose of the instrument is to gather data on students’ satisfaction, academic engagement, use of time, perceptions of campus climate, research experiences, and civic/community engagement, among other areas (Douglass, Thomson, & Zhao, 2012; Soria & Thomas-Card, 2014).  Researchers have provided evidence for the internal consistency of students’ responses over several administrations of the survey (Chatman, 2011).

In spring 2013, the SERU survey was administered to eligible undergraduate students enrolled at 13 institutions.  Institutional representatives sent emails to 356,699 enrolled undergraduates asking them to respond to the web-based questionnaire.  The institutional level completion response rate for the SERU survey was 35.50% (n = 126,622).  We utilized survey responses from Native American undergraduate students enrolled in 13 large, public research-intensive universities (n = 863).  The majority of Native American students identified as female (60.7%), non-transfer (76.0%), and non-first-generation (59.9%).  The average age of participants was 21.68 (SD = 4.93).


Dependent Variable

Four survey items were utilized to measure students’ sense of belonging.  Two items asked students to indicate their level of satisfaction with the social and academic aspects of their educational experiences and were scaled 1 (very dissatisfied) to 6 (very satisfied).  Two additional items asked students to rate their sense of belonging on campus and asked whether they would choose to reenroll on campus.  These items were scaled 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree).

Independent Variables

Several measures were utilized in the analysis that were either provided by students in the SERU or provided by institutional research offices at the respective institutions.  Institutions provided students’ sex, transfer status, and academic level (as defined by the number of credits earned).  Students provided information regarding their parents’ highest level of education achieved, from which we derived their status as first-generation students (defined as parents not earning a bachelor’s degree or higher).  Students also answered questions regarding their current residence and social class.  Prior researchers provided evidence for the validity of students’ self-reported social class (Soria & Barratt, 2012).

The SERU was administered at 13 different universities; therefore, to get a sense of whether the location of the institution had any bearing on student outcomes—and to preserve anonymity of participating institutions—we coded institutions into three categories based on their general geographic region in the United States with the remaining two schools (which were generally located on the West coast) as the referent schools.  The focal categories included four schools located in Southern regions, five schools located in the Midwest region, and two schools located in the upper-Eastern region of the United States.

Variables were used to assess students’ perceptions of campus climate for diversity and socioeconomic class, level of academic engagement, frequency of faculty interactions, and frequency of classmate interactions, which prior research has discovered are associated with students’ sense of belonging and retention (Soria & Stebleton, 2012, 2013).  We also utilized items which asked students to indicate the frequency with which they engaged in a variety of activities per week, including paid employment, community service, recreational activities, spiritual or religious activities, socializing with friends, and spending time with family.  These items were scaled from 1 hour to more than 30 hours.

Data Analyses

All data analyses were conducted using SPSS 21.0 and first utilized a factor analysis for the purpose of data reduction, to explain a larger set of measured variables with a smaller set of latent constructs.  To develop the dependent and independent measures used in this study, a factor analysis was conducted on 27 items with oblique rotation and used Velicer’s (1976) minimum average partial (MAP) method to estimate the factors (Courtney, 2013).  We utilized the procedures outlined by Courtney (2013) to analyze the data using SPSS R-Menu v2.0 (Basto & Pereira, 2012), and Velicer’s MAP values suggested a distinct fifth step minimum squared average partial correlation suggesting five factors.  Due to this evidence, five factors emerged: campus climate, academic engagement, sense of belonging, faculty interactions, and classmate interactions.  We computed the factor scores using the regression method and saved them as standardized scores with a mean of zero and a standard deviation of one.  Each of these factors had good reliability: campus climate (α = .868), academic engagement (α = .891), sense of belonging (α = .857), faculty interactions (α = .804), and classmate interactions (α = .823).

After conducting the factor analysis, hierarchical least squares regression analyses were conducted regressing students’ sense of belonging on the independent and control variables.  The model was guided by predominant theoretical frameworks suggesting students’ demographic characteristics and institutional contexts might covary with collegiate experiences, thereby potentially confounding the effects of those collegiate experiences (Astin, 1993; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).  To that end, we entered data into three blocks to assess the variance specific collegiate experience items explained above and beyond the variance accounted for by control measures (Petrocelli, 2003): 1) precollege characteristics; 2) institutional region, and; 3) collegiate experiences.


The results of the hierarchical linear regression analysis suggest Native American students’ collegiate experiences explained a significant among of unique variance in students’ sense of belonging above and beyond the variance accounted for by previously entered variables (R = .545, R2 =.297, F(14, 849) = 16.886, p < .001; R2 Change = .251, p < .001).  In other words, students’ collegiate experiences are significantly associated with their sense of belonging and help to predict their sense of belonging above precollege characteristics and institutional region.

Native American students’ perception of the campus climate for race and class, in addition to the frequency of their interactions with classmates, were significantly and positively associated with their sense of belonging (Table 1).  The frequency with which students participated in student clubs or organizations, engaged in recreational or creative interests, and socialized with friends was also positively associated with their sense of belonging.  The frequency with which students spent time with family was significantly and negatively associated with their sense of belonging, meaning that Native American students who spent more time with their families were less likely to feel a sense of belonging on campus (β = -.081).  None of the other collegiate variables were significant in this model, although we also found that students attending colleges in the Eastern region of the U.S. had significantly lower sense of belonging (β = -.084) compared to the students who attended colleges in other regions.

Table 1


The results of this study suggest there are elements of Native American students’ experiences on campus that can positively support their sense of belonging, in addition to factors that may detract from students’ sense of belonging.  In particular, we found that students’ engagement with their peers in academic and social contexts was particularly influential in promoting their sense of belonging, a finding congruent with prior scholarship (Larimore & McClellan, 2005).  Prior research suggested the importance of student-faculty interactions and family in Native American students’ belongingness (Jackson & Smith, 2001; Larimore & McClellan, 2005); however, in our study, we only measured the length of time students spent with faculty and family, not the quality of these relationships.  The time students spent with family may be attributed to living off campus with family, a factor that may compromise students’ ability to interact with peers on campus.  Based on these findings, it is recommended that researchers continue to explore the many ways in which students’ interactions with faculty and family can influence their collegiate experiences and deduce the ways in which these interactions may be crafted to support Native American students’ success.

Concomitant with the results of this study, there are several recommendations for student affairs practitioners to support Native American college students’ sense of belonging in higher education.  Given the connections between campus climate and sense of belonging, practitioners are encouraged to develop a warm and welcoming campus climate for students of color and students from lower social class backgrounds (Soria, 2012).  This study suggests that Native American students’ interactions with classmates in academic settings is positively associated with their sense of belonging, and practitioners need to provide adequate study spaces to students at hours convenient to their busy schedules.  Given the positive associations between Native American students’ time spent in student clubs and organizations, socializing with friends, and students’ sense of belonging, it is recommended that practitioners seek to integrate the curricular and co-curricular domains for students; for example, a Native American cultural group could have a space reserved for study time with peers in which hospitality is provided.  Opportunities for Native American students to explore recreational or creative interests alongside their peers may further support students’ integration in the university, while helping them to remain connected or develop new connections with their cultural traditions.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can Native American student services on your campus support students’ academic interactions with classmates, recreational or creative interests, and time spent socializing with friends?
  2. What steps has your campus taken to facilitate a welcoming campus climate for Native American students in particular?
  3. What spaces to Native American students occupy on your campus?  How can these actions and spaces be expanded to support Native American students’ sense of belonging and success?


American Indian College Fund. (2011). Facts about American Indian education. Denver, CO: Author. Retrieved from

Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college: Four critical years revisited. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Basto, M., & Pereira, J. M. (2012). An SPSS R-Menu for ordinal factor analysis. Journal of Statistical Software, 46(4), 1-29.

Chatman, S. (2011). Factor structure and reliability of the 2011 SERU/UCUES questionnaire core: SERU project technical report. Berkeley, CA: Center for Studies of Higher Education, University of California. Retrieved from…

Courtney, M. G. R. (2013). Determining the number of factors to retain in EFA: Using the SPSS R-menu v2.0 to make more judicious estimates. Practical Assessment, Research, & Evaluation, 18(8), 1-14.

Douglass, J. A., Thomson, G., & Zhao, C-M. (2012). The learning outcomes race: The value of self-reported gains in large research universities. Higher Education, 64(1), 317-355.

Garrod, A., & Larimore, C. (1997). First person, First peoples: Native American college graduates tell their life stories. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Ginder, S. A., & Kelly-Reid, J. E. (2013). Postsecondary institutions and cost of attendance in 2012-2013; Degrees and other awards conferred, 2011-12 and 12-month enrollment, 2011-2012. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Hausmann, L. R. M., Schofield, J. W., & Woods, R. L. (2007). Sense of belonging as a predictor of intentions to persist among African American and White first-year college students. Research in Higher Education, 48(1), 803-839.

Huffman, T. E. (2001). Resistance theory and the transculturation hypothesis as explanations of college attrition and persistence among culturally traditional American Indian students. Journal of American Indian Education, 40(3), 1-23.

Jackson, A. P., & Smith, S. A. (2001). Postsecondary transitions among Navajo students. Journal of American Indian Education, 40(2), 28-47.

Jackson, A. P., Smith, S. A., & Hill, C. L. (2003). Academic persistence among Native American college students. Journal of College Student Development, 44(4), 548-565.

Knapp, L. G., Kelly-Reid, J. E., & Ginder, S. A. (2012). Enrollment in postsecondary institutions, fall 2011; Financial statistics, fiscal year 2011; and graduation rates, selected cohorts, 2003-2008. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Larimore, J. A., & McClellan, G. S. (2005). Native American student retention in U.S. postsecondary education. New Directions for Student Services (no. 109), 17-32.

Okagaki, L., Helling, M. K., & Bingham, G. E. (2009). American Indian college students’ ethnic identity and beliefs about education. Journal of College Student Development, 50(2), 157-176.

Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research (Vol. 2). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Petrocelli, J. V. (2003). Hiearchical multiple regression in counseling research: Common problems and possible remedies. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 36(1), 9-22.

Soria, K. M. (2012). Creating a successful transition for working-class first-year students. The Journal of College Orientation and Transition, 20(1), 44-55.

Soria, K. M., & Barratt, W. (2012, June). Examining class in the classroom: Utilizing social class data in institutional and academic research. Association for Institutional Research Forum, New Orleans, LA.

Soria, K. M., & Stebleton, M. J. (2012). First-generation students’ academic engagement and retention. Teaching in Higher Education, 17(6), 1-13.

Soria, K. M., & Stebleton, M. J. (2013). Social capital, academic engagement, and sense of belonging among working-class college students. College Student Affairs Journal, 31(2), 139-153.

Soria, K. M., & Thomas-Card, T. (2014). Relationships between motivations for community service participation and desire to continue service following college. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 20(2), 53-64.

Tovar, E., Simon, M. A., & Lee, H. B. (2009). Development and validation of the college mattering inventory with diverse urban college students. Measurement & Evaluation in Counseling & Development, 42(1), 154-178.

Velicer, W. F. (1976). Determining the number of components from the matrix of partial correlations. Psychometrika, 41(1), 321-327.

About the Authors

Krista Soria is an analyst with the Office of Institutional Research at the University of Minnesota.  Her research interests focus on understanding the experiences of underrepresented students on college campuses, developing high-impact practices to support students’ success, and leveraging opportunities to facilitate students’ leadership development.  Krista is also an adjunct faculty with the leadership minor at the University of Minnesota.

Please e-mail inquiries to Krista Soria.

Brandon Alkire is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota.  He is majoring in Sociology and Law/Crime/Deviance and minoring in Political Science.  He is a Dakota citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which straddles the North/South Dakota boarder.  He is avidly involved in many activities at the University of Minnesota, including a general board member of the American Indian Student Cultural Center, member of the Native Student Awareness Committee, Student Parent Help Center, Circle of Indigenous Nations, and American Indian Studies Work Shop.

Please e-mail inquiries to Brandon Alkire.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Bridging the Academic/Student Affairs Divide: Gaining Perspective to Create Partnerships

Often in reflection of my work and life, I find myself wishing I knew early in my career what I know now.  I have had the good fortune to transition my 26 year career as a student affairs administrator to a full-time, tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Counselor Education.  My long career in student affairs prepared me to teach graduate students pursuing careers in higher education counseling/student affairs and to serve as the higher education program coordinator.

Inspired by David Letterman’s nightly “Top Ten List,” I include an assignment I have titled “Your Top Ten List” in my course “Leadership and Management in Student Affairs.”  The purpose of the list is to highlight points the students want to remember from this capstone course and from their experiences during their graduate work.  Students reflect on budget/funding issues, the importance of student learning outcomes assessment, relational versus positional leadership, collaboration with faculty and working with the whole student.

Recently, as I graded and commented on these lists, I was inspired to reflect on my own journey, a journey which is taking place at the same institution where I spent my career as a student affairs administrator.  In my naiveté I believed I had an advantage as I made the transition from student affairs to academic affairs.  I was confident I knew what I was doing.  Within weeks of the first semester, I experienced a profound learning curve as I immersed myself in the role of a new faculty member.

Murray (2008) studied new faculty members’ perceptions of the academic work life and concluded that “unmet expectations lead to job dissatisfaction” (p. 125).  I am not dissatisfied with my new role, although there have been surprises.  I have a new understanding and appreciation of the work life of a faculty member.  Upon reflection, I realize I am in a unique position to understand both the student affairs educator role and the faculty member role.  The lessons I have learned may be able to assist graduate students, new professionals and even more seasoned student affairs educators in understanding more about faculty culture.

Magolda (2005) reminded us that “partnerships must be meaningful, reciprocal, and responsive” (p. 21).  Had I known as a student affairs administrator what I know now as a faculty member, I might have been able to partner more effectively with my faculty colleagues to create more seamless learning environments as described in the 1994 ACPA document The Student Learning Imperative.  I might have been able to work with my academic colleagues to create and implement opportunities to engage students in high-impact practices.  Brownell and Swaner (2010) identified high-impact practices which lead to higher levels of student performance, learning, and development.  Kuh (2008) reminded us that when faculty and staff endorse a high-impact activity as worthy, other campus constituencies will support it with resources making it more available to a large number of students.  In order to create practices which are engaging, effective, and contribute to student learning outside of the classroom, partnerships between faculty and student affairs administrators are essential.  By understanding each other, we can bridge the academic/student affairs divide and subsequently create learning experiences and environments where student learning and success is a hallmark.

Below is my “Top Ten” list—what I am learning and what I wish I had known to bridge the student affairs and academic divide.  The tips may help student affairs educators build more effective partnerships with faculty, especially new faculty who are often eager to get involved in service opportunities on campus.

Tips for Student Affairs Practitioners for Working with Faculty

10.  The work of a faculty member is never finished

My student affairs days often began at the crack of dawn and would end sometime after sunset.  The line in job descriptions, nights and weekends expected rang true.  My work week was at least 50+ hours, not including the time I spent at home on my computer with email.  My day was often unpredictable but it was structured.

My faculty life is different.  As I was transitioning to my new role, I was looking forward to having time to think about and work on creative projects.  And then I learned an important lesson:  when your time is your own, you have to structure it yourself.  I now have a lot of unstructured time, although, unstructured time is time that should be spent writing, preparing courses, grading, committee work, reading, preparing conference presentations and thinking about interesting research ideas.

A common problem faced by new faculty is feeling as if they do not have enough time to get all the tasks done that need to get accomplished (Murray, 2008).  As a result, I have become less willing and able to agree to commitments which will take time away from my work, no matter how exciting, creative, or meaningful they may be.  Although I want to be available to students when they need my help, I have moved from an open door policy to a “please knock” policy.  I direct students to my office hours first, and if they cannot make them, I try to accommodate as best as possible.  My heart is student-centered and always will be but my head is occupied with an ever growing to-do list.

Tip: Recognize when faculty are not on campus they are most likely working, even if they are at home.  Try as best as possible to accommodate their schedules or find other ways to use technology to connect.

9.  Tick, Tock…the tenure clock is a new faculty member’s “master”

I am now in a tenure-track position.  The tenure process is a five year time period at my institution.  I did not realize that the first year in the tenure process was actually just the first semester.  In my contractual statement of expectations, there are three functions that “count” towards tenure:  teaching, scholarship, and service.

As an administrator and now as a faculty member, I am an avid reader of publications and journals and I consider myself a scholar practitioner. However, the expectation of publishing in peer-reviewed journals is enormous.  Finding the quiet time to prioritize writing projects is a new behavior for me.  The lack of time to engage in scholarship while balancing the demands of teaching and service is stressful to many new faculty (Murray, 2008).

Tip: Invite new faculty to participate on committees where they can contribute their expertise but do not have to take the lead on time-consuming responsibilities.  Committee involvement will expose faculty members to the ways in which student affairs educators support students and contribute to learning.

8.  A university is a complex bureaucratic environment  

I was already aware of the complexity of the university environment. However, as I watched new faculty colleagues navigating our system, I relearned the impact of this lesson.   One of the most significant benefits I had as I transitioned at the same institution was that I was familiar with the resources, policies, databases, registration system and people to contact for assistance.  New faculty members spend an inordinate amount of time in the first year navigating a new environment.  It was a great benefit to me to make my transition at the same institution but I imagine I would have had an advantage even at a new institution.  After 26 years in student affairs, I understand how universities function.  Again, according to Murray (2008), new and younger faculty are often not prepared to enter institutions which can be very different than their doctoral-granting institution.  Until they understand the systems themselves it reasons that they might have difficulty advising and helping students find what they need to succeed.

Tip: “Mentor” a new faculty member: invite them for coffee or lunch.  New faculty members may benefit from having a student affairs colleague to help them navigate the bureaucracy and network with helpful administrative colleagues.

7.  “Reply all” is a necessary function

On my last day in my student affairs role, I cleaned out my email inbox.  For the first time since I had access to email, I had an empty inbox.  In my faculty role, my average inbox email queue is incrementally less than when I worked in student affairs.  Early in my first semester of teaching I observed the common use of the “reply all” function by my faculty colleagues.  Now my email inbox is often full but with email responses to the same inquiry.  Often important emails are easily lost in the “reply all” traffic.

I discovered the importance of “reply all”.  A faculty department is different from an administrative department.  First, there is value of shared governance (see #6) where everyone has a voice.  Second, given teaching schedules, faculty may only see each other at bi-weekly or monthly faculty meetings.  “Reply all” is used to stay connected and to make decisions and I have embraced the function not for everything, but for the times when I am actually trying to work on a team without direct contact.

Tip: Work in a faculty department can take more time than expected given the lack of daily personal contact.  A request that you pose to a faculty member may be vetted through the entire department, including the chair.  Try to be patient as decisions are being made.

6.   Shared governance requires increased work

Within my first week in my new position at our bi-annual retreat I learned that the work of the department gets done by the people in the department.  Of course this makes sense on paper but what it means in practice in a graduate-only department is that we have committees for all of our functions:  admissions/recruiting, orientation, assessment, curriculum development, and field experience.  In the spirit of shared governance, the locus of control is with the committee.  I had my fair share of meetings when I worked in student affairs and when I transitioned I thought those days were in the past.  I had no idea there would be even more committee assignments as a faculty member.

Tip: As student affairs educators, you can help students and colleagues understand faculty culture and how decisions get made in faculty departments.  Some issues requiring a faculty vote will take more time.  And, you may be, as I was surprised about what decisions require a vote.

5.  Faculty have little control over financial resources   

One of the first realities I faced in my transition was the lack of control of my own budget.  As an administrator, I purchased what I needed to do my work.  I did not have access to an abundance of resources nor did I purchase items I did not need but I had control of the budgets I was given to manage.

Most faculty at my institution have little involvement with budgets: for example, the department chair manages the budget and all requests for expenditures.  Initially, I felt a wonderful sense of freedom because I did not need to reconcile my purchasing card, log into a complicated system to review purchases and balances, or know the rules about forms.  The most complicated budgetary form I had to complete in my first year was a travel reimbursement form and the department support staff put the form in my mailbox and did most of the heavy lifting.  But, when a few of us thought a bulletin board might be helpful for posting notices and creating a learning environment for students, the process was more complicated than pulling out a purchasing card.  We discussed the need, how it would be used, where it should be placed, if students would use it and if the cost was prohibitive.

Tip: Engage faculty in your program planning.  Faculty have wonderful ideas for programs and speakers but don’t always have the financial resources to move the idea to reality.  Most of the financial resources will come from your budget.  Faculty members can contribute in other ways such as ensuring student attendance and gaining access to academic affairs funding.

4.  One is the loneliest number   

I am learning about the solitary nature of a faculty position.  I had years of having non-stop student contact during the academic year and I was sure I was contributing to student learning on a day-to-day basis.  I had colleagues right outside my door at least eight hours a day, five days a week.  It was hard to go to the restroom without having someone follow me wanting to talk about an issue.  Now, however, I am often on my own.  My departmental colleagues are in their own worlds of advising, teaching, and writing.  We work on committees but often our goal is to get the task done and move on to the next project.

I find myself working more at home, by myself.  I miss the moments when I could get up from my desk, walk down the hall, connect with a colleague on an issue or question, chat for moment, and then get back to work.  The synergy of seemingly random conversation often resulted in ideas for programs and services to assist students.  One consequence of solitary work is the lack of spontaneous brainstorming that leads to great interventions.

Tip: Offer to assist faculty on projects they are doing or contemplating.  Invite faculty to join you on joint writing projects, develop staff training modules, and assess programs; yet understand the limits of their involvement.

3.  A career in student affairs is great preparation for a faculty position

My colleague, Joanne Conlon, a former student affairs professional and recently-tenured faculty member said to me as I transitioned roles, “The best preparation for a faculty position is a career in student affairs!” You might not believe this to be true but it is.  I am accustomed to being busy and interrupted.  I am comfortable managing a student crisis one hour, discussing water stations for orientation in the next, and chairing a university committee in the afternoon.

I continue to work at a similar pace and am still overwhelmed by the responsibilities of teaching, scholarship and service expectations.  I came to the position as a “multi-tasker” and the ability to manage multiple priorities.  New faculty coming directly from doctoral programs may not have had the opportunity to experience the intensity of multi-tasking needed in a new faculty position; however, they are becoming experts in their discipline.  You may be able to work with faculty to increase student learning in areas where faculty are often experts—their own scholarship and the research methods to support their scholarship.

Tip: Inquire about faculty scholarship and research interests and ask faculty to participate on panels where they can discuss their decision to pursue a doctorate, their research interests and research tips.

2.  A shift to me involves learning to say no!

After long career of serving the needs/wants of students, I am unfamiliar with shifting the focus on myself.  I am grateful to be at a teaching institution where good work in the classroom with students is valued, appreciated and rewarded; however, this new role is more than teaching and serving students directly.  Students still want my time and I give it to them but within the limits I can manage.

I am learning to say “no” to requests (both personal and professional) which will take me away from my progress to tenure.  I say “no” to meetings that conflict with my office hours.  I understand that the best way I can serve students in the long-term is to earn tenure and be able to continue in my role of preparing students for future careers in student affairs.

Tip: Assist faculty in their pursuit of tenure.  Take time to write a thank you letter for their involvement in your program or a letter in support of their tenure/promotion application.   Understand when they say “no,” it may mean “not right now, but ask again later.”

1.  You are always a “first year student” at something   

At some point in the late 1980’s during our orientation program, we showed the film Welcome to the Time of Your Life featuring Mr. Will Kiem.  His message was “You are always a freshman at something” resonated with me.  I have repeated those words to students and to myself for a quarter of a century.  I said it when I took on new roles in student affairs, when I went back to work on my doctorate at age 45 and when I left my position in student affairs for my current faculty position and it continues to be true.  I had no idea what I did not know about faculty life.  For many years previous to this one, I taught as an adjunct instructor and I am confident in my teaching skills.  But the work of a faculty member is more than just teaching.  I am learning this lesson over and over again in my new role.

Tip:  Challenge yourself to learn about faculty culture, to reach out to a new or more seasoned faculty member, to participate in a faculty committee.  You may be able to develop a partnership and in turn create a significant learning experience for students.

Last summer when I learned about the passing of comedian/actor Robin Williams, I remembered the scenes in the film Dead Poet’s Society, where Williams’ character, John Keating, asked the students to take a different perspective while marching around the school yard or standing on their desks.  Taking a new or different perspective about faculty may give you the opportunity to create partnerships with academic colleagues that allow for and enhance student learning, engagement and success.

Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways can you personally and professionally bridge the faculty/student affairs divide?  How might your efforts help students who you serve?
  2. How can we move towards more collaborative efforts with faculty?  What could you do in your department to partner with faculty colleagues?  What efforts can you do in the short-term?  What efforts might need more planning?
  3. How does taking a new perspective help you?  How does it help your department or division?  How does modeling perspective taking help students learn and achieve success?


American College Personnel Association. (1994). The student learning imperative: Implications for student affairs.  Washington, DC. Retrieved from

Brownell, J. E. &  Swaner, L. E. (2010). Five high-impact practices: Research on learning outcomes, completion, and quality. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Kiem, W. (1989). Welcome to the Time of Your Life. Video presentation at West Chester University, New Student Orientation.

Kuh, G. D.  (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who as access to them, and why they matter. Washington, D.C.:  Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Magolda, P. M. (2005).  Proceed with caution:  Uncommon wisdom about academic and student affairs partnerships  About Campus, 9(6), 16-21.

Murray, J. P. (2008).  New faculty members’ perceptions of the academic work life.  Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 17(1/2), 107-128.

About the Author

Jacqueline Hodes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counselor Education at West Chester University. She teaches higher education/student affairs and counseling courses and works specifically with graduate students who wish to enter the student affairs profession. Her research interests are varied and include examining effective teaching and advising practices for graduate students entering the field of student affairs, strengths-based leadership practices that lead to effective practice in higher education and creating organizational change to support marginalized groups on campus.

Please e-mail inquiries to Jacqueline S.  Hodes.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Becoming a Better Ally: Reflections from ACPA 2015

Although a great deal of literature calls attention to the lived experience of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and questioning (GLBTQIQ) community, very little attention has been given to the lived experience of allies and providing practical applications of examining uncomfortable growth areas in one’s allyship.  Upon return from ACPA’s 2015 Convention in Tampa, FL, I reflect upon my learning during the 2014 Convention in Indianapolis and the proverbial “gut check” I underwent regarding my allyship to the GLBTQIQ community.

I was bullied throughout high school.  My “crime” was that I loved acting.  I excelled in theatre.  I was athletic but I was not an athlete.  Big difference.  For this, and several other reasons, I was picked on.  Bullied.  Harassed.  This made me feel scared.  Intimidated.  Lesser than.  I was pushed into lockers and harassed in the cafeteria.  I was called a faggot.  My only recourse at the time – or so I thought – was to convince everyone that I was not gay.  In fact, I was tireless in my pursuit to prove my heterosexuality to others and make the overall bullying stop.  I was unsuccessful on both counts.  Sadly, my personal bullying example is not an isolated incident.

According to a recent study, 1 in 5 college-aged students is a victim of bullying (“Gay Bullying Statistics,” 2014).  Likewise, the same study reported that, “9 out of 10 [GLBTQIQ students] have reported being bullied at school within the past year because of their sexual orientation” (para. 4).  While my bullying experience due to my perceived sexual orientation is certainly not the same lived experience as someone in the GLBTQIQ community, my encounter has given me a greater sense of empathy and framed my motivation toward allyship.

There were times in high school when attention was diverted away from me and others became the brunt of the jokes.  I would like to think that I was silent during the rude jokes.  The truth is, sadly, I probably laughed nervously.  It was easier because, for one moment, the tirade was not directed at me.  I was out of the crosshairs.  In retrospect, while I was not malicious in my behavior, I certainly was not a very good ally.  I was slow to share my painful experiences with adults.  Besides my parents, I wondered to whom I could look for support.  Again, my experience is not unlike many of today’s students as they are often reluctant to report bullying behavior to persons of authority.  Specifically, many GLBTQIQ students cite a failure to report due to a perceived failure of action on the part of professionals (“Gay Bullying Statistics,” 2014).  As higher education professionals and allies, this notion should terrify, then call, us to action.

Controversy and confusion surrounding the word “ally” has existed for quite some time.  For example, allyship has appeared, periodically, counterproductive for the communities with which one is aligned.  Specifically, who names someone as an “ally”?  Allies are frequently individuals who hold the dominant identity and, therefore, by naming ourselves, are actually again re-asserting our unearned power and privilege.  These power dynamics continue to play out despite often-good intentions.  Likewise, being an ally is a call to action, not a period of stasis.  Yet, individuals may use the term without grasping a full understanding of the immense responsibility associated with it.  Mychal Denzel Smith (2013) noted,

The problem lies in people who make it a point to let everyone know they are an ‘ally’ to a movement, whether they’re actually doing the work required of them or not.  More often than not, they’re just seeking credit for being a good person. (para. 3)

I came to realize that each of these concerns, at different points in my allyship journey, required in-depth examination.

The days of being bullied are in my distant past, but they are far from my distant memory.  I harken back to these experiences because they were the beginning of my allyship to the GLBTQIQ community.  I used these negative experiences as a catalyst for action.  As a seasoned student affairs administrator and new tenure-track faculty member, I espouse social justice but I often wonder how well I really live it.  I would find out at ACPA’s 2014 Annual Convention in Indianapolis, IN.  Before I made my way into the large convention hall for the opening session, I noticed a large sign adjacent to the registration table advertising the location of an all-gender restroom.  Near this location was a table advertising the Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness.  I picked up a rainbow sticker and affixed it to my nametag.  Then I noticed a sticker that read “My preferred pronouns are _______.”  I wrote “Him, His, He” on a sticker and attached it to my nametag.  “What a powerful and empowering gesture,” I thought.

Once inside the convention hall, I found my seat but was faced with the need to attend to my bodily functions: I needed to use the bathroom.  As I exited the massive hall toward the restroom, I found myself face to face with the sign once more: All-Gender Restroom.  In my mind the sign suddenly started to flash as brightly as a marquee on Broadway.  I realized that, for as often as I advocated social justice, conducted trainings on gender identity, and lived my life as an “engaged” ally, this would be my first time using an all-gender bathroom.  This unnerved me.  It challenged my own biases and assumptions about what was comfortable and normal.

I had an internal dialogue with myself and I wondered if I caught anyone’s attention.  Why is this man staring at a bathroom door?!? I wondered why this was suddenly a challenge for me.  Why was I comfortable wearing rainbow stickers and a gender pronouns badge but this task suddenly seemed daunting and overwhelming?  This was a moment when I thoughtfully – critically – needed to take a hard look at whether I was “doing the work.”  Smith (2013) spoke to the danger that exists when an ally’s words and actions do not align, commenting,

This isn’t to say that the work that’s supposed to be done by ‘allies’ isn’t meaningful, but the word itself has started to become meaningless…As much as social justice movements need people, if those people aren’t committed…and willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones, they serve little purpose beyond the superficial. (para. 5)

I realized in this instance, and in many past instances of my social justice advocacy, I was not fully committed and willing to push myself out of my comfort zone.  My inaction added up to nothing more than meaningless rhetoric.  Still, I took a deep breath and walked through the door.

I’m not quite certain what I expected to see.  It was a bathroom.  A normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill bathroom.  I began to relax.  As my anxiety subsided, I made a promise to myself that, when available throughout the conference, I would intentionally use an all-gender bathroom.  Three bathrooms had been identified for all-gender use throughout the length of the Convention.  The next morning, with the comforts and the safety of my hotel bathroom aside, I quickly found that all-gender restrooms were few and far between for the size of the conference.  This realization caused me to be more deliberate about finding them rather than assuming there were bathrooms around every corner.  I could no longer quickly run out in the middle of a workshop to use the restroom.  My lived privilege quickly became apparent.

Transgender students face this dilemma all too often.  “Should I use the bathroom with the pants-wearing stick figure or the dress-wearing stick figure?”  For me the choice is obvious – the men’s restroom – and fits with my preferred gender pronouns.  But for students that don’t necessarily prescribe to the socially constructed gender binary, or identify with a gender that is misaligned with their biological sex, the decision is not as clear.  Members of the trans- community face discrimination and harassment as well as threats of arrest each day as they look for a safe place to use the restroom.  A recent article on Inside Higher Ed reported that a transgender student at a community college was detained by security officers and escorted off campus after she used the women’s bathroom (Jaschik, 2014).  A handout at the Annual Convention explained the purpose of the all-gender restrooms in the second paragraph: “Everyone has the right to meet their basic needs in a safe environment, without feeling threatened or intimidated.  All-gender restrooms provide an opportunity for our community members to enter a restroom without being questioned if they are in ‘the right place.’”

As allies in the GLBTQIQ community, we must walk the proverbial talk.  How might educators combat bullying and show their unwavering support and inclusivity of all students, but, most notably, the GLBTQIQ community?  Creating a positive campus culture starts with modeling inclusive behavior.  Be vocal regarding how to report bullying and exclusionary behavior.  Lend your voice so that others may find theirs.  Employ active listening techniques and model inclusive, empathic, and respectful behavior to students in all settings.

For me, this means taking risks, embracing my anxiety, and acting outside of my comfort zone.  Staring at the bathroom door, at that moment, I made a promise with myself to make some changes when I arrived home after the Convention had concluded.  I would no longer be a passive ally.  I show my support of the trans- community by using all-gender restrooms any time I encounter one, including at this year’s Convention in Tampa.  I supportively challenge people that harass individuals suspected of living outside the socially-constructed gender binary.  I use learning tools such as the “gender pronouns” exercise when I teach my courses on student development.  I ask all of my students their preferred name rather than assume it is the name on my class roster.  I work toward an “inclusion agenda” – which includes creating more all-gender restrooms – as part of my institution’s strategic plan.

GLBTQIQ concerns are not isolated to one particular group on campus, nor should they be the responsibility of one particular functional area.  The conversation of engaged allyship must reach all members of the campus community.  I encourage student affairs professionals to affirm all aspects of our students’ identities and advocate justice for all members of the campus community.  I invite staff to create welcoming and inclusive spaces.  I challenge faculty to transform pedagogy to cultivate more inclusive language during class.

As hindsight is 20/20, I would like to go back to high school and talk to my former self.  I would tell that scared little boy that he is just fine the way he is.  I would tell him that people care deeply about him.  Maybe I need to do more so that my students know that I care deeply about them; that they are fine just the way they are.  I wrestle with the concept that perhaps I am not as good of an ally as I once thought.  While this notion initially terrified me, it also, strangely, empowered me.  It permitted me to accept my own gender and sexual identity development and critically look at my life through a different lens.  I have learned a great deal about myself through this experience.  While a large part of being an ally constitutes acting outside of my comfort zone in order to widen my worldview, there is an equally important component that is less about “me as ally” and more about me using my power and privilege to advocate for the communities of which I am attempting to align.

My initial discomfort using an all-gender restroom propelled me to rethink my allyship and reaffirmed my responsibility as a social justice advocate.  Mia McKenzie (2013) echoed this sentiment, “‘Ally’ cannot be a label that someone stamps onto you—or…that you stamp on to yourself—so you can then go around claiming it as some kind of identity.  It’s not an identity.  It’s a practice.  It’s an active thing that must be done over and over again, in the largest and smallest ways, every day” (2013, para. 4).  This experience reminded me that my allyship is a journey.

Discussion Questions

1.     How might educators combat bullying and provide their unwavering support and inclusivity of all students, but, most notably, the GLBTQIQ community?

2.     How might we affirm and celebrate the multiple aspects of our students’ identity?

3.     What does an inclusive campus culture look like, and what strategies might we utilize to create such a campus culture?


The author acknowledges that the use of GLBTQIQ as an initialism is not an entirely-inclusive term, realizing that there are individuals with a spectrum of additional identities that go unnamed in the article.  The choice in language was not meant to be exclusionary; rather, it was chosen as an umbrella term to provide context for the reader.

References (2015). Gay bullying statistics. Retrieved from

Jaschik, S. (2014, April 2). Questioned for being transgendered. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from transgender-student-rights

McKenzie, M. (2013, September 30). No more “allies.” Retrieved from

Smith, M. D. (2013, October 1). The case against “allies.” Retrieved from

Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness. (2014) All-gender restrooms. [Brochure].

About the Author

Matthew R. Shupp is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling and College Student Personnel and Co-Chair of the GLBT Concerns Committee at Shippensburg University.

Please e-mail inquiries to Matthew R. Shupp.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

A Conversation with Dr. Stan Carpenter

“I think that I can distill most of what I have just [reflected on] saying that being professional is being ethical and vice versa.  It is unethical to practice without knowledge, or worse, with it being ignored.”

Stan Carpenter

As I was thinking about writing my column for this issue of Developments, I decided to bring in someone I consider to be a strong ethical leader in the field of student affairs. Dr. Stan Carpenter has been a long standing ACPA – College Student Educators International member and advocate for the field of student affairs. In 2010 he was named Dean of the College of Education at Texas State University San Marcos. Prior to his deanship he served as a faculty member for 19 years at Texas A & M University, a department chair, program coordinator, and in many other student affairs administrative positions during his service to higher education.

Faculty, administrators, former students, and researchers in the field often seek out Dr. Carpenter’s knowledge and expertise as we grapple with the changes we are facing in higher education. Dr. Carpenter is a widely respected teacher and scholar; he has won major awards in teaching, research, and service. He has served as chair of the prestigious Senior Scholars group within ACPA and founded the Faculty Fellows within NASPA.  His consummate professionalism, high standards, and focus on students have made him a guiding voice in the profession.

I asked Dr. Carpenter if he would be willing to talk a bit about leadership and ethics during a time when it feels like we are faced with many ethical dilemmas within higher education. We have issues facing higher education and student affairs on a local, regional, national, and international level. Below is an edited transcript of the questions I posed to Dr. Carpenter and his responses.

The Interview

Tell me a little about your career and the choices you made in working toward a deanship.

I suppose the principal choice was getting a doctorate. However, I then resolved that I would get at least five years of experience as a practitioner before considering the faculty, based on my experience as a student.  So, I served for a while as a Dean of Students before answering the siren call home to Texas, even though the only job I could find was as a major gifts development officer for Texas A&M.

I made the choice to publish while I was a doctoral student so that when an opening came up for a faculty position I was well prepared. Three years later a position in higher education opened up and I was selected for the position. As a faculty member I wanted to attempt to mentor students as I had been mentored, but I knew very little else about the field and the tenure track, or at least it seems that way in retrospect.

I loved the role of professor immediately and before long was hip deep in teaching, research, and service.  Within two years, I was offered a position as Executive Director of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), where I served 10 years, for most of those with only a one-course release!  ASHE opened my eyes to quality scholarship and the broader higher education field, but my first and last love was student affairs.  I remained loyal to ACPA and NASPA and have to this day.

In 2003, dual career issues and a delayed mid-life examination led me to change to Texas State University as a department chair.  I wanted to find a place to make a real difference for the last 15 or so years of my career and it has been a terrific choice.  I loved facilitating productivity.  I was then hired as Interim Dean after our dean left suddenly.  I was officially hired as Dean the following year. Through it all, my ethical and professional values have been those of student affairs, seeking the best and most growth oriented solutions for all concerned in any situation.  It turns out that these values work perfectly well with the problems that I find myself dealing with as a Dean.

How do you think ethics in student affairs has changed over your career?

I am tempted to say they have not, but I suspect that they have become more legally constrained and less instinctual.  By that I mean [faculty and student affairs professionals] were mostly taught a counseling version of ethics in the old days, with an implication that we would try to keep our student interactions confidential.  That all changed with Tarasoff and a variety of statutory reporting requirements, as well as the vagaries of liability.  [The case of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California (1976) imposed an affirmative duty on therapists to warn a potential victim of intended harm by the client, stating that the right to confidentiality ends when the public peril begins. This legal decision sets an affirmative duty precedent in cases of harm to others that is generally accepted within the social work profession (McWhinney, Haskins-Herkenham, & Hare, 1992)].

I hope that what has not changed, and what I teach my students, is an aversion to paternalism, to telling students what to do in their own personal development.  We should facilitate good choices, even visit consequences for poor ones when we must, but we must never take away a student’s responsibility for himself/herself.  In fact, we need to clarify that for students and to facilitate the growth necessary so they get better at making positive, productive choices.  Is that ethics or education?  Can we square that attitude with legalistic rules and an investigatory environment?  Those are our new ethical issues.

What do you see as the most pressing ethical issues facing new professionals today?

Building off the response above, consider sexual violence and harassment.  One can conceive of a situation that might call for a sort of waiting period to allow clarity before pursuing a ruinous course of investigation and prosecution.  However, that is no longer an option. We are all “responsible employees” and we have strict rules to follow and roles to play.  I am certainly not suggesting that this new climate is not appropriate—as higher education institutions and officers of it, we (writ large) were so neglectful, for many decades, with so many negative consequences, mostly for women that something had to be done.  The new environment is the result.

Our ethical response is to continue to do the best we can to facilitate the growth of students who are caught up in the new process, to educate through appropriate sanctions for poor choices, and to support in every possible way student victims.  My point here is that perhaps we were not loud enough in our complaints about the discriminatory and deadly environment of the past and we did not insist on better.

This leads us to ask what other issues are we ignoring right now? What comes to mind immediately are social justice issues with regard to race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender expression, handicapping conditions, and students who are underprepared as a consequence of where they were born, among others.  These are all exacerbated by the rising costs of colleges and universities and the attendant self-selection on criteria other than fit and quality of education.  Are we speaking out loudly enough?  Are we advocating?  As the student experts, we must make ourselves heard.  This is our ethical responsibility as much as helping individual students cope.

How have you seen our professional organizations respond to the ethical challenges we face today? Has this changed over time?

It would not surprise anyone who has read my work that one thing that I am happy about is the newish focus on research and data based, organized professional development.  One sees a variety of technical, ethical, and legal topics addressed in a variety of ways that are available through conferences, workshops, on-line and print based venues.  The field is coming to have a fairly broad consensus of most of the body of knowledge, practice, and attitudes needed to do our jobs properly.  It is a very large body of knowledge, to be sure, and difficult to master, but we seem to have made a start.

There are also advocacy attempts nationally and to a lesser extent in states to testify, suggest, educate, cajole, and persuade policy makers to avoid toxic legislation and rules and to promote better ways.  I am satisfied that our associations have grown in their understanding of their roles as educational voices crying in a policy wilderness.  We have grown over time to be more professional, more organized, and more united, even when we pretend we are not similar voices for one field.

What advice and insights would you give to colleges and university student affairs faculty in preparing student affairs professionals to respond appropriately?

Pay attention to ethics and base them on the values of the field, historically and currently (that is what foundations courses should be about). In our field, foundations courses should emphasize current and historical practice. Further, I have become more and more convinced of the power of student stories and of enhanced case studies as educational vehicles.  We should help our students first, to understand that every student has a story and it is sometimes up to us whether that story has a happy ending or not, whether it ends in triumph of tragedy.  We should collect some of those stories and use them as cautionary tales and as celebrations.

We faculty should help students understand that they are professionals, that there are ethical guidelines and boundaries and that they are not negotiable or avoidable.  There is a professional knowledge base, there are best practices, and one is ethically bound to learn and follow them.  We faculty can help with that by being ethical in our own dealing with one another and with our students.


Dr. Carpenter offers history, insights, and advice for those preparing new professionals and others working as administrators in the profession of student affairs and within higher education. As we work toward aspirational ethical practice, it befits us to think about how we mentor and lead with the careful care paid to “doing the right thing.”

We live in a litigious society and the temptation to not act can be tempting. Dr. Carpenter cautions us to think about how we impact our organizations in the choices we make to do right by our students and colleagues. Being an advocate for those who lack voice and agency is our ethical responsibility. I thank Dr. Carpenter for his contributions to the profession and our understanding of the role we play in educating and mentoring the future of this profession we all love so much.

Discussion Questions

  1. Dr. Carpenter talks about the changes in our understanding of limits of confidentially and student data. How has this changed the way you do your daily work? Reflect on the impact.
  2. How do you stay current in the ever-changing field of student affairs? Think about and reflect upon the influence your professional organizations have had on your own ethical development.


McWhinney, M., Haskins-Herkenham, D., & Hare, I. (1992). The school social worker and confidentiality (Position Statement of the National Association of Social Workers, Commission on Education). Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

About the Author

Anne M. Hornak is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of Educational Leadership at Central Michigan University. She teaches courses in student affairs and higher education administration, ethics, and social justice. Her research interests include ethical decision-making, transformational learning and international education, and community college students. She has been involved with ACPA as a Directorate member of the Professional Preparation Commission, where she coordinated with the ethics committee. Her most recent book is entitled, “A Day in the Life of a Student Affairs Educator: Competencies and Case Studies for Early Career Professionals” [Stylus, 2014] co-authored with Sarah Marshall.

Please e-mail inquiries to Anne M. Hornak.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Expanding Access to Study Abroad for Disadvantaged Students

The United States has long been the largest receiver of international students, dominating about 20% of the global market.  However, the country has not been as successful in terms of sending students abroad.  According to data collected by the Open Doors report, only about 1% of all United States college students study abroad during their collegiate experience. Granted, the number of Americans studying abroad has increased nearly threefold in the last two decades, rising from fewer than 100,000 students in the early 1990s to nearly 300,000 today.  But, the number remains proportionally tiny and the opportunity to study abroad remains closed off to a vast majority of students, particularly those from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds.  Figure 1 shows the racial disparities that exist in the U.S. study abroad population, with significantly fewer African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students studying abroad than represented in the larger student population.  Studying abroad can have many benefits for students and there are ways to expand access for those academically and economically disadvantaged.

Figure 1: Percent of U.S. Study Abroad Students by Race/Ethnicity, 2012-2013

Source: Data comes from NASFA

Why Study Abroad?

Many who participate in a study abroad experience often describe it as life changing.  The opportunity to experience a different culture, interact with individuals from other countries, and overcome the challenges of living and studying abroad can bring a wide range of benefits. Surveys of those who have studied abroad suggest that studying abroad can advance one’s intercultural understanding, improve self-confidence, and become more self-aware.

Research also shows that the opportunity to study abroad is about more than providing students with an opportunity to experience a different culture, it has direct positive results on a student’s success in college and beyond.  Data from UC San Diego, UT Austin, and the University System of Georgia suggests that students who study abroad graduate at higher rates than those who do not.  Moreover, the Georgia report, which is based on a carefully designed 10-year study, found that study abroad had a positive effect on student GPA, particularly those students who entered college with low SAT scores.

Survey data from the United States and the United Kingdom also suggest that study abroad alumni believe that study abroad prepared them well for the workforce.  The findings of both studies revealed that college graduates who studied abroad were more likely to be employed within six months of graduating; more likely to work in a foreign country; and, for most areas of study, most likely to earn a higher wage than those who did not study abroad.

Expanding Access: An Exemplar Program

Given the important benefits accrued through study abroad, many colleges have been working to expand access to a broad range of students; however, the success of such efforts remains inconsistent.  One program of note is a collaborative effort between the Center for International Programs (CIP) and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at the State University of New York at New Paltz.  The winner of the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) 2015 Heiskell Award for outstanding study abroad program, the SUNY New Paltz collaborative brings together staff from the two different units to expand access to study abroad for students who are academically and economically disadvantaged.

EOP is a state-funded initiative to expand access and provide academic support for students who do not meet general admission requirements, but show potential for success.  To increase the number of EOP students who study abroad, the CIP and EOP staff work together to make EOP students aware of study abroad opportunities early in their educational experience.  The staff collaborates to advise students about financial matters, expectations, cross-cultural adjustment, and scholarship opportunities for study abroad by providing tutoring and financial resource.

Of particular note is that study abroad is embedded in the support work provided to disadvantaged students, reinforced by peers, and supported through scholarships.  In their first year, students in the EOP program are provided with an extra set of supports to bolster their academic success. As reported in their application for the award:

First-year EOP student seminars devote class time to international education opportunities, with assignments such as developing a four-year academic plan to include a study abroad experience.  First-year students attend special workshops during which returned EOP study abroad students speak to students about their experiences. The EOP study abroad liaison surveys students to gather data related to students’ needs, and the international center provides a writing tutor for students who need assistance with their scholarship essays for study abroad.

Beyond the academic support that is provided, the institution has also worked to identify funding to support the EOP students.  Since 2009, 30 EOP students have received funding from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship fund, a national scholarship program supported by IIE to help students with financial constraints study in a foreign country.  Beyond the Gilman scholarship, 35 students have received funding from other national and institutional sources.

The results speak for themselves.  Since 2007, the CIP and EOP staff has collaborated to support more than 140 EOP students going abroad. Moreover, the six-year graduation rate for EOP study abroad participants is 96%, as compared to a 63% six-year graduation rate for EOP students who do not study abroad.  In fact, the six-year graduation rate of EOP students exceeds that of general admission study abroad students (89%).

Key Takeaways

The success of the efforts at SUNY New Paltz illustrate that it is possible to expand access to study abroad for underrepresented groups.  A key highlight about this program is that it is not a new program, per se; rather it was a new process that complemented the existing work of both offices.  Below is a distillation of some of the key takeaways that might help others replicate this success on their campuses.

Shared Vision

Having a shared vision or set of goals fosters shared commitment and helps focus and align activities.  A key component of the success of the New Paltz program is that there is a sense of a shared commitment to increasing the number of student from disadvantaged backgrounds studying abroad.  With the specific goal of increasing the number of EOP students who were studying abroad, all of the involved staff knew that their efforts needed to increase EOP student engagement.  In launching a similar initiative, there needs to be shared vision of what is to be accomplished and this vision needs to be communicated to all involved staff.

Expanding the Team

Complementary to having a shared vision is having a shared team.  One of the critical components of the success of this program is that there was a collective effort to achieve the vision.  Offices did not point fingers when it came to the responsibility for acting.  The directors and staff of both offices worked together and shared responsibility.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities

Because of the shared vision, the staffs at both CIP and EOP were able to create mutually reinforcing activities.  This did not require a great deal of additional effort; rather they had to think strategically about building in activities to their existing work that would drive forward the achievement of their goals.  This was about more than simply informing students of an opportunity.  This was about creating an entire set of activities that got them excited about studying abroad and provided supports to overcome the barriers (real and perceived) that might exist.

Measuring Outcomes 

Success builds success and the leadership at SUNY New Paltz wanted to ensure that the new efforts were actually producing the required outcomes.  As such, they developed mechanisms to track a variety of measures to determine not just whether they were achieving their immediate goal (i.e., increasing the number of EOP students studying abroad) as well as ancillary academic benefits such as improved GPAs and completion rates.  This demonstrated success makes it easier to justify additional resources for the program and the institution is now working to expand the model to develop collaborations with other offices that support disadvantaged students.

Tapping into Existing Funding

A common concern is that study abroad is financially out of reach for many students.  In response, there are a growing number of scholarships being made available to assist students with overcoming this hurdle.  The Gilman Scholarships, mentioned above, are just one example.  Others can be found here.  An important role of campus staff is to help students find the resources they need to make study abroad possible.

Discussion Questions

  1. How many students on your campus study abroad?  Are the demographics of the cohort of students studying abroad similar to the general campus population?
  2. What barriers exist on your campus for students to study abroad?  Do these barriers differ for different demographic groups?
  3. What data supports the existence of these barriers?  How might you obtain this data?
  4. Who should be responsible for expanding access to study abroad for underrepresented groups?
  5. Are there ways to leverage existing resources to support more students studying abroad, particularly those from underrepresented groups?
  6. What steps might you take tomorrow to initiate change?

About the Author

Jason E. Lane is Senior Associate Vice Chancellor and Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Strategic Leadership for the State University of New York as well as associate professor of educational administration and policy studies, and Co-Director of the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT) at the State University of New York, Albany.  He has been a 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. He is currently a member of the governing board of SUNY Korea. His most recent books include Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch Campuses (2010, Jossey-Bass); Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers (2012, SUNY Press) and Academic Governance and Leadership in Higher Education (2013, Stylus Press).  

Please e-mail inquires to Jason E. Lane.

Follow him on Twitter at @ProfJasonLane


The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members, Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.

Be our Guest: A Conflict Over Transient Student Services

Note: This article was written under Marisa’s previous role at Columbus State Community College. All institutional references are to Columbus State Community College.

Community college services remain busy throughout all three of the main semesters: Fall, Spring, and Summer. Due largely in part to a non-traditional population, accelerated degree programs, technical career fields, and alternative scheduling, two-year college students often attend classes across ten months of the year.

While the Summer peak remains high and often mirrors the enrollment activity at four-year colleges and universities, the demographics of a community college change slightly between May and August. Campuses begin to take on a more traditional feel as college students return back home from residential institutions and utilize the community college setting to get ahead or catch up over a long break.

Transients, as many colleges classify this particular cohort and enrollment pattern, represent a significant portion of many community college’s profile year round. During Summer 2015, our campus welcomed over 6,000 students in the Transient/Guest cohort, making up a significant percentage of the overall enrollment for the term. These students represent a wide variety of educational goals and profiles, coming to the community college from universities within the area and also those outside of the state. On several occasions the Advising team has even worked with students attending Ivy League institutions who are home for the summer seeking enrichment or completion of a general requirement.

In most cases, the local community college campus is an ideal destination to achieve such educational goals. A low cost of tuition, adherence to transfer module standards, and a wide variety of general purpose coursework creates an excellent environment in which to host guests. For the most part, the enrollment process lacks some of the barriers often found at more selective institutions. An open enrollment environment welcomes all into the classroom, and community colleges have grown accustomed to meeting the needs of perhaps the widest variety of individuals.

Given this perfect match, why might community college struggle to meet the needs of the Transient population? What are the challenges facing some community colleges as they attempt to increase enrollment through service to students in this cohort, and should community colleges offer the same support services to Transient students as native students?

These are just some of the questions facing many community college administrators as two-year campuses continue to embrace the innovative success, retention, and support initiatives commonly found within university systems. As community colleges grapple with movement from enrollment-based funding models to success and completion agendas, where does the Transient student population fit?

The Transient Student Dilemma

Guest students can easily be viewed as a source of tuition revenue by those managing enrollment at community colleges, however, intake processes designed for the general, degree-seeking population can present additional barriers to a temporary population. While community colleges have remained focus on access and open enrollment, admissions processes have evolved to maintain data integrity and promote student success. In an effort to better track student progress, provide proactive retention supports, and establish reliable data, some community colleges are beginning to explore mandatory transcript submission policies, academic credentialing related to Math and English proficiency, and widespread encouragement of standardized test completion. Likewise, as a response to success-driven funding changes, some community colleges turn focus to increased course pre-requisite requirements, concurrent enrollment pairings, and learning community structures.

While these initiatives and policies, in theory, support student learning, they can be viewed as barriers to visiting students who wish to simply complete a singular course to meet a requirement at his or her primary institution. If a guest student is required to submit additional transcripts, take placement tests outside of the desired content area, or attend mandatory Orientation programming in order to register, he or she may opt out of enrollment altogether. While the student is entitled to do so, these choices can impact a community college’s revenue and overall enrollment in the long-term.

This risk leaves community colleges to explore separate application, advising, and registration approaches for varied groups of students.  The open enrollment nature, coupled with a reliance on student self-reporting, presents a challenge in creating multiple and unique routes of entry.

This challenge extends beyond Admissions processes as well, as support units such as Advising, Tutoring, Financial Aid, and Counseling struggle to identify the best courses of action for both native and visiting students.

The fast-paced student services office I currently lead was faced with this conflict several summers ago. Faced with an increase in Transient/Guest student traffic within the Advising office, both native and guest students experienced high wait times during peak walk-in hours. The Advisors and I quickly realized Transient/Guest students were simply seeking transactional services such as permission to enter certain courses, quick pre-requisite reviews, and assistance with online registration procedures. This cohort of students, however, was mixed in with degree-seeking students in need of developmental advising, academic intervention discussions, career guidance, and extensive first semester assistance.

Stretched thin and overwhelmed with overall student traffic, our team began to develop strategies to serve Transient/Guest students differently and encourage simplified, online, transaction-based interactions. Through the introduction of an online registration form and pre-requisite authorization process, most guest students are now served at a distance, leaving additional advising capacity to manage the more extensive support needs of degree-seeking students at the institution.

This example demonstrates the challenge faced by many other community college enrollment departments. As community colleges commit to meeting nearly every educational need presented at the front door, colleges are forced to look at new ways to spread resources and, in some cases, diversify service structures.

With an increased focus on student success, however, does movement towards transactional services for guest students impact the student experience? What impact could this approach have on overall student success, and the college’s ability to attract and possibly retain the Transient/Guest student population?

An Enrollment Management Perspective

As with most other institutions, both two- and four-year, credential completion remains a central priority in student success within community colleges.

However, administrators focused on Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) often struggle to find a balance between open accessibility and supporting current students in their efforts towards degree completion. As guest students utilize the community college in an effort to fulfill home institution requirements, save on tuition costs, or fill in gaps between undergraduate and graduate programs, the community college environment struggles to prioritize these goals.

Due to the high proportion of first generation students attending community colleges, the college’s native population risks late registration behavior. Through direct work with students, I have observed this pattern on many occasions, as our students sometimes wait to register for the next term due to childcare considerations, lack of confidence in his/her ability to successfully complete current term coursework, financial constraints, or scheduling needs. As open registration progresses, savvier guest students from other colleges and universities begin to register for available sections. Unfortunately, hesitant community college students sometimes find themselves stuck without the courses they need in order to persist. Changing the late registration pattern requires communication and encouragement from student services offices such as Advising, Financial Aid, and specialized programs.

A 2013 review of California community colleges explored priority registration across 110 institutions and found that 93% of the institutions reviewed offered priority registration to continuing students. While some of the community colleges prioritized students by time at the college, others prioritized by the number of credit hours accumulated (Bahr, Gross, Slay, & Christensen, 2015).

While the study did not directly address colleges’ handling of Transient populations, this stratified registration strategy reflects a high priority on student credential completion. As a result (either intentional or unintentional), this type of approach postpones registration activity that could impede native students’ ability to persist within the system. This is just one example of methods community colleges may employ to strike a balance between meeting the needs of Transient and native student populations.

Bahr et al. (2015) acknowledge that registration priority has the potential to disadvantage students moving across multiple institutions to achieve educational goals. The authors encourage enrollment management officials at community colleges to explore partnerships between other institutions that allow students to retain priority as they move across systems. Such an approach could assist Transient students as this cohort attempts to secure seats in key community college classes, however, variances across partner institutions challenge this recommendation.

Recruiting Transient Students: What is Appropriate?

As mentioned earlier, Transient students can help community colleges fill empty seats, establish strong transferability agreements with other institutions, and offer a solution to students seeking flexible course options at a lower tuition rate. From a student success perspective, data at the institution in which I work has shown that the Transient student population successfully completes coursework at a higher percentage than other students within the College. In addition, students with home institutions withdraw from classes at a lower rate compared to others attending the college. While these students present service and support challenges to community colleges, they can also be perceived as assets in states that employ success-based funding for higher education.

But is it appropriate for community colleges to directly recruit a Transient population? After all, these students are enrolled in other institutions, presumably completing degrees at home colleges and universities. While the community college is well positioned to offer services and coursework to these individuals, should colleges actively seek their business?

In a recent interoffice conversation, several Advisors and I were discussing the “word of mouth” nature of our Transient enrollment patterns. Several local colleges and universities, as well as those further away from the state, are regularly represented in our summer guest student cohort. In some cases, the student’s Advisor may have recommended a summer class or two while home from a residential campus. Presumably, however, these colleges and universities would prefer to obtain revenue from additional coursework taken at their tuition rate.

The Transient population presents significant enrollment potential for many community colleges, though the unique existence of a home college or university complicates traditional recruitment efforts designed to increase overall enrollment. While active recruitment of this population on campuses would generally be considered unethical, community colleges may employ more passive strategies to incentivize students to take a course or two over a semester break, utilize the community college to “catch up” in degree programs, or fulfill general education requirements within a unique setting.

Given its representation in community college enrollment profiles, the Transient student population represents enrollment potential that cannot be ignored. How a college attempts to secure this enrollment, however, presents unique challenges to Admissions, Enrollment Management, and Marketing offices alike. Strategic and collaborative efforts between each of these departments can help a community college to attract a strong guest cohort, especially during summer terms when degree-seeking student enrollment may decline.

Unintended Consequences

Anecdotally, many Transient students appear to prefer quick, uncomplicated transactions with the community college. With home institutions fulfilling the role of support, guest students can utilize their existing support structures to fulfill in-depth academic advising, Financial Aid, or long-term planning needs. In these cases, the community college with which Transient students interact can be seen as a means to an end.

While some Transient students may prefer a transactional interaction with the community college, overly simplified processes can cause barriers for students later on. For example, community colleges that waive required documents or Admissions processes for guest students may find it challenging to work with students if and when their educational goals change. In addition, bypassing pre-requisite coursework in an effort to abridge registration barriers may lead to advising challenges if the student decides to remain at the college and pursue an academic program. For this reason, simplified efforts designed to cater to the Transient population may need to be weighed against potential unintended consequences. Without communication, proper control over student records, and a strategic method of bridging a Transient student into an academic program (if desired), colleges may find gaps in meeting the long-term needs of this student population.


Students utilizing multiple institutions to meet degree requirements is not a new phenomenon, and this enrollment trend may in fact increase as students wish to save tuition dollars, accelerated completion, control student loan debt, or diversify their college experience. Community colleges are well-positioned to serve the needs of this student populations through ease of access, diverse course offerings, and open enrollment structures.

Faced with a diverse range of students’ educational goals, community college student services and enrollment management professionals continue to evolve processes, service models, and policies to serve the needs of many. Capitalizing on existing resources, community colleges stretch capacity to defy the “one size fits all” approach to student support and services. Transient students represent a significant portion of a community college’s enrollment, and the management of resources surrounding this population continues to prompt discussion moving forward. The Transient student population provides not only challenges, but unique opportunities to community colleges seeking to increase enrollment in the coming years.

Discussion Questions

  1. In your opinion, should Transient/ Guest students receive the same services and attention as native students? Why or why not?
  2. What implications could differences in services and processes have on student success, retention, and persistence? Might differentiated services prevent prospective students from fully transferring to the institution to pursue degrees?


Bahr, P. R., Gross, J. L., Slay, K. E., & Christensen, R. D. (2015). First in Line: Student Registration Priority in Community Colleges. Educational Policy, 29(2), 342-374. doi:10.1177/0895904813492381

About the Author

Upon completion of this article, Marisa Vernon has transitioned to a new role as Assistant Dean – Access and Completion, at Cuyahoga Community College – Westshore Campus. Opened in 1963, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) is Ohio’s first community college and now the state’s largest, serving 50,000 students each year. The college offers two-year associate degrees, certificate programs, and the first two years of a baccalaureate degree.  The curriculum includes 1,600 credit courses in more than 140 career, certificate and university transfer programs. Courses are offered at four campus locations, two Corporate College® facilities, online, hybrid courses, and many off-campus sites.

Please e-mail inquiries to Marisa Vernon.


The ideas expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Developments editorial board or those of ACPA members or the ACPA Governing Board, Leadership, or International Office Staff.