Christian student organizations’ membership eligibility and discrimination based on sexual orientation and religion

In four recent judicial cases, student organizations at four institutions across the country have challenged their university’s denial of official recognition and/or funding from mandatory student fees because these organizations were believed to discriminate on the basis of religion and sexual orientation. Two of the four cases were appealed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals and the resulting decisions in Christian Legal Society v. Kane, 2006 W.L.997217 (N.D. Cal.), affirmed,2009 W.L. 693391 (9th Cir. Cal.) and Christian Legal Society v. Walker, 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006) are in conflict. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal from the Kane caseChristian Legal Society v. Martinez, 2009 W.L. 1269076 (US), which may provide some national guidelines for universities to follow. To understand the legal issues involved and the implications of the pending Supreme Court decision, this article reviews the four cases and discusses issues that institutions should consider.

These cases involved the denial of official recognition and denial of funds from mandatory student fees to Christian student organizations that require their voting members and officers to sign a statement of faith. By signing the statement of faith, members agree to uphold their Christian values and to refrain from heterosexual or homosexual activity outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. Further, membership eligibility allows individuals to become voting members who repent for any past sexual behavior that was outside of the bonds of marriage. These student organizations have filed claims in federal court for violations of First Amendment speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion rights. Two cases find that the institutions have violated the Christian organizations’ First Amendment rights and two cases upholding the denial of recognition or funding based on discrimination in membership eligibility of the Christian organizations.

NOTE: These requirements of enforcing 1st amendment rights apply to public institutions. Private institutions, while not required to enforce constitutional rights, have accepted these rights as societal norms. Many private institutions have incorporated some of these guarantees into their student handbooks. So at private institutions it depends on the existing polities surrounding mandatory feeds and the precedents of implementing these policies.

Cases upholding denial of recognition or funding from student fees:

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 2009 W.L. 1269076 (US). This case originated as Christian Legal Society v. Kane, 2006 W.L.997217 (N.D. Cal.) and was affirmed without a written opinion by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit [ 2009 W.L. 693391 (9th Cir. Cal.)]. Since 1994 the Christian Legal Society (CLS) was a recognized student organization of the Hastings Law School of the University of California. At the beginning of the 2004 – 2005 academic year CLS became a member of the National Christian Legal Society and changed its charter to require voting members and officers to sign a statement of Christian faith. Membership became limited to those who, by signing the statement, renounced other religious beliefs and accepted moral standards that rejected heterosexual and homosexual activity outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. Repentant individuals who in the past participated in hetero or homosexual activities and who signed the statement would also be considered voting members. The Hastings Law School Student Bar Association (SBA) was responsible for granting official recognition to student organizations in the Law school. The 2004 CLS application for official recognition was denied by SBA. SBA found that CSA was in violation of the institution’s nondiscrimination policy since it denied membership based on religious affiliation and sexual orientation and therefore was not eligible to be a recognized student organization at the Law school.

Recognition of student organizations at Hastings provides certain benefits including: use of the Law School’s name and logo, use of bulletin boards, access to University e-mail list services, accounting and financial services, allocation from student fees and travel funds, space in a University newsletter, office space, telephone voicemail, listing on the official Web site and publications, participation in the annual student Organizations Fair, access to information distribution services, and use of Law school rooms and audiovisual equipment for meetings. CSA filed suit in Federal District Court claiming violations of First Amendment, speech, association, and free exercise rights. Both the University of California Hastings Law School and CLS asked the Court for Summary Judgment.

The Court found that the Hastings Law School’s student organization recognition process was a limited public forum. Denial of access to the forum was permissible only if the rationale for denial was viewpoint neutral. The denial of recognition of CLS, according to the Court, was content neutral because it was based on the organization’s conduct, denial of membership, not its philosophy.

The Court concludes that Hastings’ requirement of compliance with its Nondiscrimination Policy is a reasonable regulation that is consistent with and furthers its educational purpose. Accordingly, even if Hastings’ Nondiscrimination Policy is considered a regulation of speech, Hastings’ enforcement of this policy did not infringe upon CLS’s First Amendment rights of free speech (p. 12).

Citing Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169 (1972) the Court stated: “… Hastings has denied CLS official recognition based on CLS’s conduct- its refusal to comply with Hastings’ Nondiscrimination Policy –not because of CLS’s philosophies or beliefs (p. 17). The court determined CLS had plenty of opportunities during the academic year to advocate for its beliefs and philosophies, despite the denial of official recognition. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed this decision without a written opinion and the U.S Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case.

Based on the Kane decision, Christian Legal Society of the University of Montana Law School v. Eck, 625 F.Supp.2d 1026 (D. Mont. 2009) found that the University of Montana Law School did not violate the First Amendment speech, expressive association and free exercise rights of the Christian Legal Society as a recognized student organization at the University, when it denied access to funds from student mandatory fees. CLS, a local chapter of the national organization, required voting members and officers to sign a statement of their Christian belief that included renunciation of heterosexual and homosexual activities outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. Those who repented for past sexual activity outside of marriage were also eligible for membership. The Court relied on Kane in reaching a decision but noted the facts included only the denial of funding to a recognized student organization. The Court found that the nondiscrimination and open membership policies of the University were viewpoint neutral. Denying funding to CLS did not inhibit the organizations First Amendment rights (p. 1032).

Cases finding the institutions violated the Christian organizations’ First Amendment rights

The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at Southern Illinois University (SIU), affiliated with the national CLS, was denied official recognition by the University as it was in violation of the University’s nondiscrimination policy. CLS based membership eligibility on individuals signing a statement of faith which included the belief that sexual activity should occur only within the bonds of marriage between a man and a women. Individuals repenting for past hetero or homosexual activity were also eligible for membership. Claiming a violation of their First Amendment speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion rights, CLS filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against SIU in Federal District Court. When the injunction was denied, they appealed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. Christian Legal Society v. Walker, 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006) reversed the District Court decision and remanded the case for further deliberation. SIU provides official recognition to a diverse group of student organizations. Similar to other institutions, official recognition provides a number of benefits such as access to the Law School’s List-Serve, data base of e-mail addresses, use of bulletin boards, placement on school organization lists, publications and website, use of conference rooms, storage space, a faculty advisor, and funding from student mandatory fees (p. 857). The Court found that CLS was likely to be successful in its claims since it is not clear that CLS violates the institution’s nondiscrimination policy, that SIU appears to have infringed the expressive association rights of CLS, and that SIU violated the organizations speech rights. (p. 859). In relation to the nondiscrimination policy, the CLS membership policy applies to both heterosexual and homosexual behavior outside of the marriage between a man and a woman and is based on a belief rather than an individual’s classification as a member of a particular group (p. 860). In terms of expressive association and speech rights the court cited several Supreme Court decisions: Rosenberger v. Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 515U.S. 819 (1995); Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin v. Southworth, 529 U.S.217 (2000); Healy v. James, 408 U.S.169 (1972) among others. These cases indicate under the right of expressive association the University cannot force its views on an organization whose views are considered unpopular, or force it to accept members who will hamper the group’s ability to advocate for a belief or viewpoint (p. 863). Further, the University has established a public forum, and while there was disagreement between the parties on the type of forum (a matter to be resolved by the District Court) speech rights must be granted in a viewpoint neutral way (p. 864). The Court noted that CLS was the only organization singled out for denial of recognition when other student organizations at SIU limit membership based on religion and gender (p.686). The Court found that SIU has denied CLS recognition based on view point discrimination (p. 687).

Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity v. Moeser, 2006 W.L.1286186 (M.D.N.C.) reached a similar decision to that in Walker. AIO is an unincorporated student organization that was denied recognition by the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). AIO required its members to sign a similar belief statement that prohibited heterosexual and homosexual behavior outside of marriage between a man and a woman and allowed membership for those repenting for past transgressions. The Christian fraternity filed a motion in the Federal District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina asking for a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the nondiscrimination policy for a class of student organizations. The Court issued an injunction giving UNC-CH a period of time to revise their nondiscrimination policy so as not to violate the First Amendment rights of AIO and similar organizations. As a result UNC-CH added the following clause to its nondiscrimination policy:

2. Student organizations that select their members on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs (e.g., religious or political beliefs) may limit membership and participation in the organization to students who, upon individual inquiry, affirm that they support the organization’s goals and agree with its beliefs, so long as no student is excluded from membership or participation on the basis of his or her age, race, color, national origin, disability, religious status or historic religious affiliation, veteran status, sexual orientation, or, unless exempt under Title IX, gender (p. 4).

This change in policy meant that organizations such as AIO that required members to sign a belief statement are no longer in violation of the institution’s nondiscrimination policy. Based on UNC-CH’s change in their antidiscrimination policy, the Court approved the University’s motion to dismiss the case.


With Martinez (the Kane case) on the Supreme Court docket, institutions need to be cautious about denying recognition or funding to religious or political organizations while a Court ruling is pending. There is reason to believe, based on previous Supreme Court rulings in the area of institutional-recognition and funding of student organizations, that the decision of the Seventh Circuit is closer to the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court, that the Christian organizations First Amendment rights were violated when it was denied recognition because it required members to sign a belief statement. For example, Healy v. James found that an institution could not deny official recognition to the Students for a Democratic Society because it disagreed with the philosophical tenets of the student organization. Rosenberger v. Rectors of University of Virginia established that funding from mandatory student fees cannot be denied to a publication because it has a Christian editorial perspective. Recognition as an official organization and funding must be granted in a viewpoint neutral way. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin v. Southworthestablishes that the scheme to fund student organizations is a limited public forum and therefore funds must be awarded in a viewpoint-neutral way. These cases along with other cases involving organizations outside of higher education indicate that the policies of Christian or political organizations that limit membership based on philosophy or a belief system will be protected under the First Amendment and are not in violation of an institution’s antidiscrimination policies. The safe approach for institutions is to at least recognize and provide student funds to these organizations until the Supreme Court gives a definitive answer. If the Court rules as we think they will, institutions may want to follow UNC-CH’s example and make a similar change to their nondiscrimination policy.

Please send inquires and feedback to Robert Hendrickson at [email protected].

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Administrators Engaging in the Research Process

The purpose of this Developments series is to explore different perspectives of what it means to be a scholar practitioner, the various ways in which one can be a scholarship practitioner, and the impact doing so has on one’s personal and professional life. The contributing authors of this series address how they have approached being a scholar practitioner, the challenges and opportunities that accompany their approach, and recommendations for others who also want to want to pursue a career where scholarship and practice are purposefully interwoven.

In earlier Developments articles on entering the professoriate, authors focused on the various ways in which an administrator would need to understand the rules, norms, and expectations of the profession and to engage in scholarship as a prelude to making the transition from student affairs administrator to professor. For example, in her article “Student Affairs Pathways to the Professoriate: Perspectives on Teaching,” Julie Owen admonishes student affairs professionals that the complexities of faculty socialization affect one’s ability to bring experience as a student development administrator into the traditional classroom setting. In “Writing for Publication,” Dilley and Hart suggest that conference presentations, research, and scholarly journal articles, and articles in professional journals should be aimed at multiple audiences but developed into a research agenda for which the individual might become known in the field.

This article will turn the question around. What about the student affairs professional who wants to engage in scholarship while remaining an administrator? Is it possible to be a practitioner who is also a scholar rather than one who uses scholarship to transition into a faculty position?

What is a Scholar Practitioner?

In his seminal work Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, Boyer (1997) argued for a broader definition of scholarship for the professoriate. Boyer was concerned about not only what “counts” as scholarship in the tenure process, but what matters about it. He argued, for example, that the scholarship of teaching – the study of how knowledge can best be transmitted to others and best learned – is a valid subject of inquiry for faculty members.

A scholar practitioner, on the other hand, is not concerned about tenure. Instead, the scholar practitioner engages in research and scholarly endeavors while continuing in the role of an administrator with no thought of transitioning to the professoriate. Scholarship in this sense is an end rather than a means to an end. The scholar practitioner engages in research to improve his or her own practice or to develop best practices in his or her administrative discipline. Scholar practitioners read the research reports of others and use them to improve their own effectiveness and that of their staff or peers. The scholar practitioner generates new knowledge not to convince a tenure committee that she or he has the right stuff, but simply to contribute to the advance of knowledge or practice in a chosen field.

What’s the Payoff for Student Development Professionals?

While tenure is not at stake and therefore is not a motivator for scholarly engagement by student development practitioners or other college administrators, there are still a number of rewards for the practitioner who decides to pursue a research agenda. First, ascendancy to the presidency in higher education has historically been through the academic department chair, dean and provost pathway. Few financial affairs professionals (like myself) – and perhaps even fewer student affairs professionals – have found an easy passage to the presidency. Building a resume that includes conference presentations, book and article reviews and published journal articles, book chapters and monographs can substantially improve the odds that a senior administrator in student affairs will be a considered a serious candidate for the leadership of a higher education institution.

Second, there is the joy of working at the nexus of research work and professional work. It is not clear in all cases which drives which – is it only true that research findings should influence the work we do and the way we do it – or should our work influence the scholarship we do and the ways we conduct it?

Third, there is the question of legitimacy. Student affairs professionals constantly struggle for legitimacy in the eyes of their faculty colleagues. Who has not heard the adage that “the faculty are the university” and that teaching and learning (meaning what goes on inside the classroom) are the core of the enterprise? Even granting that this is true, student development professionals have made a very strong case for the value of the learning that occurs outside the classroom, in student leadership opportunities, student clubs and activities, community volunteer opportunities and the like. Yet the student affairs function gets little respect from the faculty on some campuses. The student development professional who doubles as a scholar practitioner meets the faculty on their own terms – as an equal who engages in scholarly pursuits, subjects his or her ideas to peer review and contributes to the advancement of knowledge. Becoming a scholar practitioner can improve the credibility of the student affairs professional when she or he brings ideas about teaching and learning to discussions of assessment and accountability, service learning or the value of co-curricular education efforts on campus.

Finally, there is the professional motivation and personal rewards associated with being a scholar practitioner. While it will not necessarily lead to promotion or a higher salary, and most certainly will not result in a tenured position, contributing to the advancement of knowledge and the improvement of practice are rewards in themselves. As a creative endeavor, the research process can provide both professional development and increased job satisfaction.

A Brief Case Study of One Scholar Practitioner

My own path to becoming a scholar practitioner has evolved over more than twenty years as a higher education administrator. I currently serve as the vice president for financial affairs and treasurer of a comprehensive master’s level private institution and have served at the senior management level since the 1990s in both public and private higher education.

My doctoral work included completion of an historical dissertation on the development of the research mission at two Midwestern urban state universities. During my doctoral program and since its completion, I have made research and scholarly presentations on various aspects of the history of higher education at conferences of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the History of Education Society. Coming directly out of my dissertation, my research focus has been on the historical development of the urban state universities sector of American higher education.

What, you might ask, is the connection between serving as the chief financial officer of a university and engaging in scholarship on the history of higher education? Most of the rewards, of course, have been either intangible or personal or both. The biggest payoff, however, has been a greater understanding of the world in which my faculty colleagues operate on a daily basis – the world of publish or perish. By putting myself in their shoes, I have gained a great deal of respect for the demands placed on them and the work involved in this aspect of their professional lives. I hope, in return, that they have gained some respect for my work and my efforts to engage in the knowledge generation process.

Getting Started as a Scholar Practitioner

Having been convinced by the articles in this series of the value of engaging in scholarly pursuits, yet not wishing to transition to the professoriate, where should the student affairs administrator who wants to become a scholar practitioner get started? Two immediate issues are finding time in an already hectic professional calendar to engage in research and finding support from your supervisor or others in the institution in terms of both time and resources.

Most colleges and universities (albeit perhaps less so in these difficult financial times) provide support to their administrators for conference attendance. Rather than merely attending the next gathering of your favorite professional organization, why not submit a proposal to make a presentation? If you ground your presentation in original research that you have conducted, rather than relying solely on the work of others, you will have taken a first step along the scholar practitioner road. If your proposal is accepted, actively seek the advice of your audience once you have completed the presentation, e.g. chat with them after the session or offer to send them the paper in return for feedback. Having been successful at one or more professional conferences, next submit a conference proposal to an appropriate scholarly organization such as ASHE or AERSA. Many colleges and universities will support the attendance of their administrators at scholarly conferences if they have an excepted peer reviewed paper. Finally, take your experience at conferences and move to the next level – submit a paper to an appropriate journal as Dilley and Hart outline in their article, “Writing for Publication.”

Finding – or making – the time for scholarly endeavors is a much more personal issue. In my case, all of my vacation time for two years was spent doing the research for my dissertation. As a morning person, I also find the time between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. and weekends my most productive working time. Each budding scholar practitioner will, of course, need to find his or her own solution to the time question.


The student development professional does not need to limit his or her interest in engaging in the research process to a career change strategy. One can engage in the pursuit of scholarship for the sheer joy of learning, for contributing to the advancement of knowledge, or for the development of best practices in a specific field. While both motivations for conducting research are valid, the latter provides student affairs administrators with everything from the potential to climb the administrative ladder in higher education to the satisfaction of doing something for the sheer pleasure of accomplishment.


Boyer, E. L. (1997). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Dilley, Patrick and Hart, Jeni (2009). Writing for publication. ACPA Developments. Winter 2009.

Owen, Julie (2009). Student affairs pathways to the professoriate: perspectives on teaching. ACPA Developments. Summer 2009.

Please send inquiries and feedback to Ralph Kidder at [email protected].

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From One Dupont Circle: Quarterly Update

Greetings from One Dupont Circle!

It is hard to believe that we have completed the first decade of the 21st century and started the second decade. Just a decade ago we were all wondering if Y2K was going to be the end of the world. Not only has Y2K come and gone, we are entering a new error of higher education. Think about that?

There are many things happening in your association as well and let me briefly highlight a few:

ACPA Updates

Member Benefits to Professional Members Outside of Higher Education

The membership approved extending full membership benefits to professional members who work outside of higher education. As change has embraced higher education and many campus in the United States have “outsourced” many essential services to organizations and corporations, those professional members employed in a student affairs position may join ACPA and have full membership benefits. The most evident example is the numerous recent graduate students who have completed their higher education degree and were offered employment in a student affairs position that happen to be in a for profit company. Organizations/Corporations like American Campus Communities, Allen and O’Hara, and Capstone offer full time professional positions to recent graduates as well as seasoned professionals. These talented and committed professionals will no longer have to put aside professional association involvement and professional development opportunities because they do not actual receive their paycheck from a college or university.

Economic Recovery Plan Membership

ACPA continues to offer an “economic recovery plan” for our members who have loss their positions due to budget cuts on campus are entitled to receive a complimentary one year extension of membership, while they search for meaningful employment. The process and procedure to do so is on line (

ACPA/NASPA Unification

The Governing Board of ACPA has passed a resolution to support the continuation of talks with NASPA about a possible unification of the two premier associations. The Unification Steering Committee will meet in late January to continue the deliberation of the issues with a desire to move a proposal to a member vote sometime this year. For more information, visit ACPA Web site.

2010 Annual Conference, Boston, MA

The outstanding 2010 Convention Planning Committee has been tirelessly to present you with an outstanding professional development experience in the city of Boston. Please join us March 20 – 24, 2010 for the 86th Annual Convention. There is a phenomenal line up of speakers and cultural highlights that are designed to make us think outside of the box as we plan with our colleagues how to make the student leading experience the best it can be. Join us, it promises to be an experience to strengthen your foundational learning to enhance student learning! There are a few special programs being planned, so please come and enjoy your professional development smorgasbord.

Hot Topics on Campus

Remember??? Near the end of summer I shared with you a list of topical areas that I felt our members should be aware of and asked you can incorporate these new realities into your everyday life. I share those with you again and I ask, “What have you done with this information on your campus?”

  1. Veterans and our campus –  The new education benefit for veterans, military members, reservists and National Guard members who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, goes into effect August 1, 2009.  Are your campuses ready? Please send me an email and let me know how veterans presence on campus in larger numbers has changed the way you do business?
  2. International Education and the Paul Simon Act – The goal is to increase the number from approximately 270,000 to 1,000,000 students studying abroad by 2017.  We must encourage our students and ourselves to become more familiar with other cultures. Are you and your campus/or division looking at how you can help with this goal?
  3. Sustainability – “Going Green” is the new buzz word around the country and on many campuses.  ACPA has selected two International Sustainability Fellows: Dr. Jeanne Steffes, vice president for student affairs at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts and Dr. Lindsey Agans, a technical expert on the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program;  STARS is a voluntary, self-reporting framework for gauging relative progress toward sustainability for colleges and universities.
  1. U.S. Public Service Academy – “We have world class military service academies, that, each year, produce thousands of well educated and highly trained graduates to lead our nation’s armed forces, but no institution exists to mold top-flight public servants.”  These words were taken form Rep. Moran, (D-VA) about the proposed Public Service Academy.  Currently there are 37 house co-sponsors for the bill to create such an academy with many in the Senate.  I urge you to read more about the proposed creation of this new Academy and will lend your support.  You may go to their Web site for more information:

I urge you to continue monitoring these changes and deciding what impact these initiatives will have on higher education and particularly our work in student affairs. Are you ahead of the “game” and ready to make bold new changes to enhance our students’ experience? How can you ensure a quality learning environment exists to support new directions and visions?

Please send inquires and feedback to Greg Roberts at [email protected].

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ACPA’s New Ethics Consultation Service

ACPA’s Governing Board recently approved a new ethics consultation service as designed and proposed by the Ethics Committee. This service to ACPA members will be available immediately following this spring’s ACPA 2010 Convention in Boston. The ethics consultation service is designed to provide interested members with confidential consultation and advice regarding options for addressing ethical issues and concerns they may be facing in their professional work. The goal of the Ethics Committee in offering this consultation service is to assist individuals in thinking through and addressing their issues/concerns in an informed, effective manner.

Appendix A of the ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards provides general guidance on addressing professional ethical concerns. First, it is suggested that a private conversation be initiated with the individuals and/or parties concerned to attempt to collaboratively resolve the ethical concern. Second, if a private conversation does not adequately resolve the matter, it is recommended that institutional colleagues and resources be consulted for further assistance in addressing the ethical concern. ACPA members are also invited to contact the Ethics Committee Chairperson if they wish to receive additional consultative advice on their ethical issue or concern. The new ethics consultation service offers an organized process for this assistance.

The Ethics Committee will utilize ACPA’s Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards (available at the Ethics link on the ACPA Web site) as well as other relevant sources of ethical information to consider what insights and advice to offer the inquiring member about his/her/hir particular ethical concern. It is important to note that the Ethics Committee’s response to the inquiring member(s) is for use only by that member(s) in his/her/hir consideration of the ethical situation and/or concern presented to the Committee. The consultation provided is confidential and provided exclusively for the educational benefit of the member(s) requesting advice.

The Purpose and Procedures for Ethics Committee Consultations on Ethical Issues/Concerns is reprinted below. A program entitled “ACPA’s New Ethics Consultation Service” will be presented at the upcoming Boston Convention on Tuesday, March 23, at 4:15 pm in the Marriott, Boston University room. This program will present further details and answer ACPA member questions about utilizing this new service. Additionally, an open meeting of the Ethics Committee is scheduled on Tuesday, March 23, at 10:00 am in the Marriott, Grand Ballroom – Salon D. At this meeting, the ethics consultation service will also be discussed as well as other on-going projects of the Ethics Committee. Interested ACPA members are encouraged to attend one or both of these important sessions.

Please send inquires and feedback to Michael Ignelzi at [email protected].

Purpose and Procedures for Ethics Committee Consultations on Ethical Issues/Concerns


In 2004, the ACPA Executive Council asked the Ethics Committee to study and recommend revisions to the 1992 ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards. In 2005, the Committee recommended changes to the Principles and Standards that were approved by the ACPA Executive Council in 2006. One section, Appendix A, outlines a procedure that provides for ACPA members to consult with the ACPA Ethics Committee for advice about ethical concerns.

At the request of the ACPA Executive Council to expand on Appendix A, the ACPA Ethics Committee produced this document detailing the scope and procedures available to members requesting consultative advice on professional ethical issues and concerns.

This document was approved by the Governing Board at their meeting in November 2009.


  1. Committee Charge: An important purpose of the Ethics Committee is to provide ACPA members with consultation and advice about options for addressing concerns that are expressed regarding professional ethical issues. Similar to the way Student Affairs professionals provide consultation to students seeking personal advice – but leave to other entities any determination of right and wrong – this Committee, in its educational role, serves to consult and provide advice about ethical situations and issues that are presented by ACPA members. In short, the Committee provides consultation, advice and guidance for ACPA members facing ethical issues. The goal of this consultation service is to assist the individual(s) in thinking through and addressing his/her/hir ethical issue/concern in an informed, effective manner. No specific complaints will be received, adjudicated, or decided by the Ethics Committee. Further, the individual(s) requesting advice must look elsewhere if interested in pursuing redress, discipline, or an official recognition of their concern.
  1. Committee’s Review Procedures: ACPA members seeking consultative advice should contact the Ethics Committee Chair. They should identify themselves and describe any ethical issues or situation on which they seek consultation, but without identifying any alleged wrongdoer. The Ethics Committee will not respond to anonymous requests for advice, however, the identities of those requesting consultation will be kept strictly confidential. The Committee Chair shall contact his/her/hir choice of other Ethics Committee members to discuss and consider the ethical issues raised. At his/her/hir discretion, the Chair, acting on behalf of the Ethics Committee, may also consult with the ACPA Director of Equity and Inclusion (who oversees the Committee on behalf of the ACPA Governing Board), the ACPA President, the ACPA Executive Director, and/or legal counsel.

After working in collaboration to provide any perspective(s) offered by the ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards and any other selected sources of relevant information, the Chair will provide a timely response to the inquiring ACPA member(s) that conveys the Ethics Committee’s insights and advice. This may be provided in written or oral form (or both) at the discretion of the Committee.

  1. Restrictions and Records: Contact between the individual(s) requesting consultation/advice and the Committee is confidential. Neither the fact that the Committee was contacted, the names of any people discussed, nor the Committee’s insights and advice (whether written or oral), is to be discussed or cited by the Committee members, the inquiring member(s), or by anyone else, including any person in question. The Ethics Committee’s response is for the inquiring member(s) use only, not for disclosure to or use by others, including specifically not for transmission to any individual or entity reviewing the ethical conduct of any person in question. To be absolutely clear, advice provided by the Ethics Committee is service to individual(s) requesting consultation and is not to be used for evidence of the correctness of any particular perspective or to be construed as any type of “expert testimony.” That said, the Ethics Committee Chair shall keep confidential records of the inquiring member(s), the nature of the inquiry, and any advice or guidance that was provided. Additionally, a numeric count of requests for consultation and a general summary of the types of concerns/issues raised will be submitted yearly to the ACPA archives.
  1. Committee’s Educational Responsibilities: The Ethics Committee is expected to help educate the membership about professional ethics including the ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles and Standards, and the Procedures for Ethics Committee Consultations. The Ethics Committee is also charged to periodically review and recommend any advisable changes to those Principles/Standards and to these Procedures. The consultative process and procedures described in this document are consistent with the Committee’s educational mission as well as its charge to assist members in working to resolve professional ethical dilemmas.

A Flexible Student Development Program for Today’s Incredibly Busy Student

Everyone has a Roger on their Campus…

Roger, a student who commutes, is typical of many college students today. Busy doesn’t begin to describe him; he takes classes, works two jobs that consume 25-30 hours a week, occasionally volunteers in the community, and like most young adults, tries to have a social life when possible.

Roger is a pre-medical student intent on getting accepted into medical school. Because of this goal, he decided to take on leadership roles to enhance his medical school applications. Roger is the president of the pre-medical student organization. He discovered that he would like to learn more about developing his leadership skills and is interested in being a member of the university’s leadership development program. In addition he would like to join one of the community service student organizations because he has heard from several faculty and staff members how much professional schools (and employers) value leadership and community engagement experiences. Unfortunately, his academics, commuting, and work obligations simply do not allow him enough time to engage in many of the sustained leadership development experiences offered on campus.

Off campus, Roger volunteers for a number of short-term projects in his community. Recently, Roger spent his summer as a camp counselor/leader for a diverse group of inner-city children, and he currently shadows a doctor at a local hospital and volunteers there in preparation for his future as a physician. Even though these are not the “traditional” student engagement and leadership experiences provided on campus, shouldn’t they count for something?

Through service learning, internships, study abroad programs and many other opportunities, colleges and universities are encouraging student learning beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. The Superior Edge program at Northern Michigan University (NMU) utilizes this expanding concept of engagement and goes a step further in acknowledging that students can accomplish learning objectives both within and outside of sponsored university programs and initiatives. Superior Edge is built upon the premise that a student’s knowledge of leadership, civic engagement and responsibility, diversity, and career preparation can be acquired through a variety of experiences that are not confined to sponsored programs. Through Superior Edge, students like Roger can gain credit for many different experiences of their choosing that move them towards defined learning outcomes and then have their work validated through a Student Enrichment Transcript.

This article will describe highlights of the Superior Edge program, how it was developed at NMU, how it is making a difference for student participants, and issues to consider for anyone interested in establishing a similar program on their campus.

Superior Edge Will Count It!

In its simplest form, Superior Edge at NMU is a program that addresses what it takes to be a well-rounded individual in today’s society. The program allows its participants to put together an online portfolio of curricular and co-curricular experiences connected to learning outcomes. This portfolio is comprised of four areas (called Edges) which include: Citizenship, Diversity, Leadership, and Real World. Each edge requires 100 hours of commitment, is rooted in three or four outcomes, and requires participants to provide adequate reflection for each experience. Students are responsible for tracking their hours. Every student at NMU can join regardless of class standing, major, or GPA. Students can progress at their own pace and hours can be completed at any time during their enrollment and at any location. Students are given the freedom to complete one, two, three, or all four edges.

Developing Superior Edge at NMU

Like many schools, NMU already had a comprehensive leadership program that was successful but limited to a defined number of students. So staff began pondering how to make leadership and other developmental activities accessible to large numbers of students. This discussion was occurring at a time when a new president came on board and there was considerable faculty and student affairs staff interest in providing meaningful out-of-the-classroom and classroom-connected experiences for NMU students. A 25-member task force was created by the president and comprised of faculty, staff, and students. Over the course of the year, the committee met weekly and developed a program with defined learning outcomes in which any student enrolled in the University could participate. The role and importance of the Superior Edge task force was crucial. The many different perspectives resulted in a product that was far better than any one person could have conceived individually.

Widespread support from faculty for Superior Edge was realized due to the heavy faculty involvement from a broad spectrum of departments. Students provided excellent feedback about what was realistic for them to accomplish while still having the program remain meaningful. In addition to providing input for programmatic design, staff on the task force helped indentify the resources needed to implement Superior Edge. By continuing to keep students, faculty, and staff involved with the growth and development of Superior Edge, over 2,000 students are currently enrolled.

The goals of Superior Edge are to facilitate a well-rounded co-curricular experience for student participants, to set participating students apart from non-participants; to institutionalize a program that connects students, faculty, staff, and the community; and lastly, to offer a program that allows flexibility for today’s students who have very busy schedules.

Over 20 % of the NMU student body is involved with Superior Edge. The program receives support from numerous academic departments, is connected to various community organizations and businesses, and receives full backing from the administration. Superior Edge has become institutionalized at NMU through broad campus support and diverse involvement from a network of on- and off-campus support groups.

In short, Superior Edge works because the benefits can be perceived from all parties involved. Students’ progress is assessed against outcomes laid out at the program’s inception. Upon completion of an edge, staff members review individual reflection papers using a rubric that measures student learning. Many students appreciate the impact they have been able to make on their own personal development, on campus, and in the surrounding community. Finally, Superior Edge works with a busy schedule in a variety of settings at the level a student like Roger can choose.

The Competitive Edge

In the end, Superior Edge provides its graduates an advantage when pursuing further studies or entering the workforce. Graduate schools and employers recognize that they will be interviewing a candidate with well-rounded experiences. They will be meeting someone with leadership experience, who takes initiative, understands the role ethics plays in decision making, appreciates multiculturalism, and who is motivated to make a difference. Participants’ edge-packed resumes set them apart from other college graduates.

Superior Edge is proving to be a transformative experience for participating students as they discover that a meaningful life is built on a foundation of hard work, service, and the courage to take chances. The hours of involvement, volunteering, and commitment represent a priceless investment in confidence, self-esteem, and the future. While these experiences have always been available to a select group of “heavily involved” students, Superior Edge facilitates involvement to the broad mass of students, many of whom could not participate in structured co-curricular programs because of their schedules and life circumstances. It is meaningful to note that many participating students begin Superior Edge with a goal of completing a particular Edge but often expand into other “Edges” as well.

NMU recognizes every student who completes an Edge with a Student Enrichment Transcript. This transcript is maintained by the Registrar’s Office and accompanies the student’s academic transcript. The Student Enrichment Transcript differs from a traditional co-curricular transcript in that it is connected to specific learning outcomes.

College students everywhere are participating in many exciting and beneficial activities. Most of them are not fully aware of how they are learning and growing and what they are accomplishing. An effective way for students to appreciate the impact of their involvement is to have them reflect on their experiences in a structured way. In Superior Edge, students reflect on every activity logged and also discuss what and how they met one or more of the identified outcomes. Students reflect again when they complete an Edge by writing a reflection paper. Busy students are provided the opportunity to think about their experiences, and therefore, are better able to effectively communicate what they have gained from their participation.

Think Differently

If your campus is interested in developing a program like Superior Edge, consider the possibility of establishing learning outcomes that allow students to set their own path across varied experiences. Students have the freedom to take advantage of the many opportunities available in every aspect of their lives on and off campus that can, when connected to learning outcomes, help them develop an “Edge.” These can include summer jobs, internships, community involvement, and much more, including traditional co-curricular involvements. Being able to fit a program to what students are doing versus fitting students involvement to a specific program not only celebrates the diversity of student interests, but also allows for better overall student preparedness upon graduation.

Please send inquires and feedback to Rachel Harris at [email protected]. More information about the Superior Edge program is available at E-mails can also be sent to [email protected].

An Update on Learning Outcomes Focusing on the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS)

In 2009, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) celebrated 30 years of inter-associational collaboration in the development of standards of practice for quality programs and services leading to intentional student outcomes. CAS advances the self-assessment process for assessing student outcomes and using that assessment for program improvement. Directors from 36 member associations have developed and regularly revises 40 functional area standards using a consensus model of decision-making (See

In the 1990s, higher education called for the assessment of curriculum, co-curricular programs, and services largely for accountability and comparability. At the same time, accreditation associations uniformly began requiring institutions to designate student outcomes in order to assess their accomplishments on those self-designated outcomes.

But what outcomes should college seek to develop in students? What did educators expect? What did students, their families, employers, and the public need and expect?

The identification and articulation of desirable student outcomes expanded at the turn of the century. Since the first standards were released in the mid 1980s, CAS has advanced specific learning and developmental outcomes. The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) advanced the conversation with the student-centered focus in Greater Expectations (National Panel, 2002). Concurrently in 2003, the fifth edition of the CAS book of standards added a more clear focus on outcomes by specifying achievement indicators for the 16 learning and developmental outcomes that all functions should address. Shortly thereafter, Learning Reconsidered (NASPA/ACPA, 2004) and Learning Reconsidered2 (Keeling, 2006) advanced a taxonomy of seven outcomes. Subsequently, CAS convened a panel of faculty and student affairs experts to weave these Learning Reconsidered outcomes with the CAS set of 16 outcomes into the new set resulting in six broad categories that CAS calls learning and developmental outcome domains (CAS, 2009). Campuses are encouraged to use these 2009 outcomes as the latest best thinking in student affairs.

Each CAS domain contains related dimensions and each dimension links to specific examples. Those using a functional area standard must designate which outcome domains and dimensions their programs are designed to develop. Theprogram section of each CAS General Standard (2009) indicates:

The formal education of students, consisting of the curriculum and the co-curriculum, must promote student learning and development outcomes that are purposeful and holistic and prepare students for satisfying and productive lifestyles, work, and civic participation. The student learning and development outcome domains and their related dimensions are:

• knowledge acquisition, integration, construction, and application [Dimensions: understanding knowledge from a range of disciplines; connecting knowledge to other knowledge, ideas, and experiences; constructing knowledge; and relating knowledge to daily life]

• cognitive complexity [Dimensions: critical thinking; reflective thinking; effective reasoning; and creativity]

• intrapersonal development [Dimensions: realistic self-appraisal, self-understanding, and self-respect; identity development; commitment to ethics and integrity; and spiritual awareness ]

• interpersonal competence [Dimensions: meaningful relationships; interdependence; collaboration; and effective leadership]

• humanitarianism and civic engagement [Dimensions: understanding and appreciation of cultural and human differences; social responsibility; global perspective; and sense of civic responsibility]

• practical competence [Dimensions: pursuing goals; communicating effectively; technical competence; managing personal affairs; managing career development; demonstrating professionalism; maintaining health and wellness; and living a purposeful and satisfying life]. (p. 31)

These outcomes and specific examples can also be found in the 2009 book of standards (pp. 25-28) and at CAS advocates that the mission and purpose of each functional area transparently identify those outcomes it seeks to develop in students who engage in their programs or services. Data from self-assessment on those outcomes must then be used in program improvement and then the assessment cycle continues. Campuses are encouraged to map their environment and ensure that all outcomes are addressed.

National Alignment Update

Slightly before the Spelling’s Commission released their recommendations on accessibility, affordability, quality instruction, and accountability (Commission on the Future of Higher Education, 2006), the “big six” presidential higher education associations (e.g., ACE, AAC&U, CIC) released a letter of commitment indicating that higher education supported assessment of student learning outcomes among other assertions. Several exciting projects have subsequently followed. The growing national conversation seeks to balance assessment for accountability and assessment for improvement. A few of the resources to explore include:

AAC&U: The Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative advances four broad goals [knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, intellectual and practical skills, personal and social responsibility, and integrative learning] and seven principles of excellence to meet those goals advocating the use of high impact practices largely identified through NSSE research ( The latest AAC&U project, Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) includes a set of rubrics to use as indicators of student attainment publically available at

Voluntary System of Accountability: In a move toward transparency, the VSA was established by Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU) and AAC&U as a site for campuses to publically post their outcome assessments in a college profile. All participating campuses must also agree to assess a core of outcomes (e.g. critical thinking) using the CAAP, MAPP, or CLA for comparability (See

National Institute for Learning Outcome and Assessment: Supported by the Lumina and other foundations, NILOA was launched in 2009 and is co-directed by George Kuh and Stan Ikenberry as a quality clearinghouse for assessment resources and model practices encouraging outcome transparency. Bookmark this site for the latest information on outcomes, high impact practices, and key resources (See

The New Leadership Alliance for Learning Outcomes and Accountability: The Alliance was formed by key associations and members of the Board of Directors of the Alliance include representatives from the American Council on Education (ACE), Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU), Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), Higher Learning Commission, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), and the Teagle Foundation. This group convened an invitation symposium in November to seek alignment among outcomes and assessment practices. I was very pleased to represent CAS at this symposium. Greg Roberts was also in attendance representing ACPA. I was pleased to address the assembly and make the point that students learn and develop across the whole college environment and that the whole environment should be assessed for their contributions to student outcomes. It is indeed very good that student affairs is in this national conversation (

New CAS Standards

The 7th edition of the CAS book was released August of 2009 and contains newly developed standards for Adult Learner Programs, Auxiliary Services, Dining Services, Graduate and Professional Student Programs, and Undergraduate Research Programs. CAS committees are currently developing new standards for Campus Security, Parent and Family Programs, Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence, and Veterans Programs and Services anticipated in 2010 and 2011. The recent CAS Symposium on learning outcomes and assessment featured Carol Geary Schneider, AAC&U President, among the keynote speakers.

We are indeed fortunate that leaders in our field came together 30 years ago seeing the need for standards of practice and advancing self-assessment. You do not have to re-invent any wheels, you can use the wisdom of CAS to advance the work of your programs and services. You can order the 7th edition or a CD with all standards and self-assessment guides from . CAS will also have a booth at the ACPA annual convention and our executive director, former ACPA president and former CAS president, Phyllis Mable looks forward to assisting you.


Commission on the Future of Higher Education (2006). A test of leadership: Charting the future of U.S. higher education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2009). CAS professional standards for higher education (7th ed.). Washington, DC: Author

Keeling, R. (Ed.). (2006). Learning reconsidered 2: Implementing a campus-wide focus on the student experience. American College Personnel Association, Association of College and University Housing Officers-International, Association of College Unions-International, National Academic Advising Association, National Association for Campus Activities, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association.

NASPA/ACPA (2004). Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student experience. Washington, DC: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the American College Personnel Association

National Panel (2002). Greater expectations: A new vision for learning as a nation goes to college. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities. PDF available at

Please send inquiries and feedback to Susan Komives at [email protected].

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Race-Conscious Admission Alternatives

Since the 1960’s lawmakers, educators, and university administrators have debated race-based admission policies. During the past 50 years, many legislators and university administrators have worked to achieve equitable levels of minority student enrollment within American colleges and universities. Based on the goals, values, policy alternatives, the costs of each alternative, and the probability of meeting goals for each alternative, universities and university systems established race-based admission policies and practices (Hicklin, 2007, p. 332). There is an ongoing debate between those who support and those who oppose race-conscious admission processes intended to increase minority student enrollment. Race-based admission policies and programs are intended to give students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn through the various perspectives of their classmates and enrich the learning environment, as well as to help to produce well-educated, well-trained students ready to take on leadership positions within the global business sector, government, and society (Bowen & Rudenstine, 2003).

According to Hicklin (2007) supporters of race-conscious admission processes argue that they give minority students an increased probability of gaining admission into an institution, and that without the consideration of race in admissions, colleges and universities will see a decrease in minority admissions (p. 331). Many supporters of the use of race-conscious admission processes argue that by eliminating race-conscious admission processes minority students will forgo attending college, or attend out-of-state institutions that conduct race-conscious admission processes. However, studies show that judicial and legislative restrictions on race-conscious admission processes do notreduce the number of minority students in a state. Instead, judicial and legislative restrictions redistribute minority students among less selective institutions where the quality of education is much lower (Hicklin, 2007, p.337).

In Gratz v. Bollinger et al (2000) the University of Michigan stressed the educational value of diversity. Diversity brings about a larger capacity for the expansion of knowledge through the diversity of perspectives, beliefs, and backgrounds. Despite the educational value of diversity, race-conscious admission processes still hardwire inequities into our system (Frye, 2004). For instance, some view these processes as reverse racism, because these processes put other students (i.e., Caucasian) at a disadvantage based on their race. For many years the pioneers of the civil rights movement fought for equality, and now many support a discriminatory system that is said to increase diversity of our colleges and universities.

I do not support the use of race-conscious admission processes. There are many alternatives to using such processes. Instead of using race as a factor in making admission decisions, institutional leaders, lawmakers, and educators can make a shared effort to target the needs of perspective minority students. The admission of minority students into an institution will not increase diversity at that institution because admission does not equal enrollment.

When deciding to choose a university, many students conduct a basic cost-benefit analysis that helps them to decide where they choose to enroll (Hicklin, 2007, p.333). Thus, diversity initiatives should focus on minority student enrollment, rather than admission. Students look at their perceived probability of gaining admission, the perceived benefits of the university, and the perceived costs that will be incurred to attend the university (Hicklin, 2007, p.333). Many agree that the minority student enrollment rate needs to be increased; how to do that is where the issue lies. Race-conscious admission policies target minority students’ perceived probability of gaining admission, rather than focusing on factors that lead to an actual enrollment. To increase minority student enrollment I urge colleges and universities to focus on minority students’ perception of benefits (e.g., academic programs, job opportunities, alumni networks, social/professional organizations) and perceived cost of attendance. By focusing on these factors, institutions can create narrowly tailored programs that will produce the desired outcome: increased minority enrollment.

Rather than relying on race-conscious admission policies, Lehmuller and Gregory (2005) describe other practices institutions can use to cultivate and attract well-prepared minority applicants:

  1. Establish support programs in high schools that better prepare minority and economically disadvantaged students for admission;
  2. Recruit from community colleges that have large minority populations;
  3. Place less emphasis on standardized tests, and more emphasis on personal interviews; and
  4. Increase consideration of economic factors in awarding financial aid (p.445)

While the goals of many institutions is to increase minority student enrollment, it is also important for them to recognize the value of student support, which is vital to the retention of students. Lehmuller and Gregory (2005) encourage student affairs administrators to provide support for all students with limited academic abilities or those who do not have strong support systems (e.g., family, clubs, sports teams, etc.) (p.445); this can be achieved by:

  1. Providing learning assistance programs for minority and first-generation college students;
  2. Providing proactive and appropriate advising from admission to graduation;
  3. Providing learning communities that stress academic support and cohort development across all races;
  4. Forming coalitions with other local institutions so students can have external support;
  5. Providing outreach and support to those taking developmental courses; and
  6. Working closely with community colleges to develop academic support for likely transfer students (Lehmuller & Gregory, 2005, p. 455-456).

These practices provide alternatives to using race when making admission decisions that will ultimately increase student enrollment and retention.

According to Bowen and Rudenstine (2003) the goal of higher education is to give students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn through the various perspectives of their classmates, enrich the learning environment, and produce well-educated, well-trained students ready to take on leadership positions within business, government, and society. Institutions can achieve this goal if they implement programs that target student enrollment and retention instead of utilizing race-conscious admission processes. These types of programs do not put other non-minority students at a disadvantage, better meet the needs of minority students, and are more likely to graduate minority students who are well-prepared for leadership roles in society.


Bowen, W.G., & Rudenstine, N. C. (2003). Race-sensitive admissions: Back to basics. Chronicle of Higher Education. 49(22), p. B7.

Frye, J. (2004). Preparing MPA students for the public interest workplace. Journal of Public Affairs Education. 10(2), 165-167. Retrieved from:

Gratz v. Bollinger et al. 122 F. Supp. 2d 811 (E.D. Mich. 2000), No 97-75928, 2001 W.L. 315715 (E.D. Mich. April 3, 2001).

Hicklin, A. (2007). The effect of race-based admissions in public universities: Debunking the myths about Hopwood and Proposition 209. Public Administration Review. 67, 331-340. Retrieved from:

Lehmuller, P., & Gregory, D.E. (2005). Affirmative action: From before Bakke to after Grutter. NASPA Journal. 42(4), 430-459. Retrieved from:

Please send inquiries and feedback to Jammie Jelks at [email protected].

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From the Editor

We hope you enjoy this issue of Developments and the following articles provide opportunities for discussion and learning in your office and/or classroom. We are always looking for creative article ideas! Please send to [email protected].


We are excited to present a NEW series, The Scholar Practitioner, in the Spring 2010 issue of Developments.

The purpose of this Developments series is to explore different perspectives of what it means to be a scholar practitioner, the various ways in which one can be a scholarship practitioner, and the impact doing so has on one’s personal and professional life. The contributing authors of this series address how they have approached being a scholar practitioner, the challenges and opportunities that accompany their approach, and recommendations for others who also want to want to pursue a career where scholarship and practice are purposefully interwoven.

Ralph Kidder kicks off the series with his in perspective on administrators engaging in the research process.

In this issue, we also present the final installment of our five-part series, Making the Leap: Transitioning from Student Affairs Administrator to Professor, with an article by Megan Moore Gardner and Jeni Hart on surviving the first year as a faculty member. They provide thoughtful recommendations to help new faculty be successful.


As always, we present our two feature columns on Ethics and Legal issues. Michael Ignelzi discusses a new ethics consultation service that was designed and proposed by the Ethics Committee and recently approved by the ACPA Governing Board. This service to ACPA members will be available immediately following this spring’s 2010 Convention in Boston. Robert Hendrickson discusses the legal issues surrounding Christian student organizations’ membership eligibility and discrimination based on sexual orientation and religion.


Developments continues to be interested in featuring Innovating Ideas and Perspectives on timely issues from emerging, seasoned, and senior scholars and practitioners. In this issue, we offer readers an article on a flexible student development program for today’s incredibly busy student by David Bonsall, Rachel Harris, and Seth Hill-Kennedy. In addition, Jammie Jelks shares her perspective on alternatives to race-conscious admissions.

As you may know, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) just celebrated 30 years of inter-associational collaboration in the development of standards of practice for quality programs and services leading to intentional student outcomes. To commemorate this event, Susan Komives discusses the history and development of Learning Outcomes and also provides an update on the national alignment and the new CAS standards.


In One Dupont Circle, ACPA Executive Director, Greg Roberts, provides updates on new and ongoing association initiatives including providing member benefits to professional members outside of higher education and offering economic recovery plan for members who have lost their positions due to budget cuts. Then, in his last President’s Note, Tom Jackson reflects on the relationships he has developed with friends and colleagues through ACPA.

The announcement section provides information about the 20th Anniversary National Leadership Symposium: Transforming Leadership Education for Significant Learning. In this announcementSusan Komives outlines the purpose of the symposium, along with the theme and corresponding learning outcomes.

Developments is a quarterly online publication that connects ACPA members to cutting edge issues, trends, and scholarship in higher education and students affairs. It also serves as the primary source of Association news, programs, services, and resources. Through the voices of emerging, seasoned, and senior scholars and practitioners, Developments articles provide engaging perspectives that enhance the work of college and university educators.

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20th Anniversary National Leadership Symposium Transforming Leadership Education for Significant Learning University of Richmond July 8th – 11th 2010

THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2010 – 19:39

About the Symposium

The National Leadership Symposium is a professional development experience designed for faculty members, student affairs professionals and other educators involved with promoting college student leadership education. The program is coordinated by the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and the National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs (NCLP).

Given the intense learning environment of the Symposium (included required reading prior to attending), it is advised that participants have significant professional experience in leadership education. Registration is limited to 50 people.

20th Anniversary Theme

For the 20th anniversary year of the National Leadership Symposium, the focus will be on the intersections of student learning and leadership. Transformative documents such as Powerful Partnerships and Learning Reconsidered challenge student affairs professionals to consider themselves as educators who facilitate student learning and development. Yet many practitioners continue to view themselves primarily as programmers, as providers of services and activities. This outlook can be especially detrimental to those working in the area of leadership development, which is increasingly calling for educators skilled in the creation of engaged pedagogy, integrative learning experiences, and intentional learning communities.

The Symposium puts forth the following suppositions: that leadership can and should be learned; that the learning and development leadership capacities are inextricably intertwined; and that leadership educators can purposefully foster learning environments that help students integrate knowledge, skills, and experiences in meaningful ways. The 2010 Symposium will offer an overview of some of the ways learning theories can be applied to student leadership development. It will examine socialization to the role of leadership educator and the role of authenticity in education and the development of intentional learning communities. Select learning theories and their implications for leadership learning will be presented. Strategies for constructing leadership-related learning outcomes and assessing leadership learning will also be discussed.

Participants in the 2010 National Leadership Symposium will:

  • Learn how to recognize the qualities and attributes of today’s student learners.
  • Create environments that promote meaningful and measurable learning.
  • Foster a learning environment that will promote transformative learning in the context of leadership.
  • Develop a network of practitioners, educators, and scholars that can be used to augment their current understanding of leadership.


  • Dr. Dennis (Denny) Roberts – Assistant Vice President for Faculty and Student Services of Qatar Foundation
  • Dr. Stephen Quaye – Assistant Professor, College Student Personnel, University of Maryland
  • Dr. Jillian Kinzie – Associate Director, Center for Postsecondary Research & NSSE Institute,  Indiana University System

Program Chairs:

  • Dr. Julie Owen -Assistant Professor, New Century College, George Mason University
  • Dr. Lucy Croft – Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, University of North Florida


  • Early Registration Begins March 2010

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From the President

March 24-28, 2010 ACPA will host the annual convention in the vibrant city of Boston.  ACPA is fortunate, nearly half of its 8,500 members attend the convention, and so far over 22 countries will be represented. This, in part, makes ACPA special.  ACPA is a home where friends and colleagues come together every year to learn, share stories, compare notes, and engage in service.  The annual convention is a spectacle of events.  A place where colleagues have five-minute updates in hallways as they race to a program session, 10-minute coffee breaks to share family photos, or rapid-paced meetings to plan future programs.  Without the napkins at the many restaurants around a convention hotel there may not be the abundance of activities within the association. Those napkins have served many as the paper in which to take notes.

The ACPA President gets to provide a short update in “Developments” four times a year.  This is the fourth and final one for me. Today I would like to address the important concept of “friends and colleagues.” Allow me to pay tribute to a few of those people I know that have helped shape ACPA just a little over their lifetime.

During my presidential remarks last March I spoke about Dr. Charles J. Fey, Dr. Tom G. Walter, and Dr. Deborrah Hebert.  In this article I will share a short story about Dr. Russ Watjen, Mr. Stephen Lamb, and Ms. Robin Diana.

L. Russell Watjen, or Russ, has been an ACPA member since the 1970’s.  I first met Russ during a Commission for Administrative Leadership meeting.  Russ was very active in ACPA in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  He led the commission’s efforts to introduce technology into our student affairs work.  Now please understand that the dial-up modem didn’t hit the public market until the early 1990’s, so the work that Russ was spearheading was revolutionary.

I didn’t get to know Russ well until he hired me later as his Dean of Students.  Russ was a single dad raising three small kids while serving as the vice president.  His wife died from cancer.  As the dean I observed how he balanced the demands of his vice presidency to those of his children.  His children meant everything to him and he paid dearly in time and companionship. As his friend I valued our personal and professional relationship and remain humbled to still be his friend. Russ has received many distinctions through his years with ACPA.  This year he is a part of the Diamond Honoree class of 2010.

Stephan Lamb was innovative. He was the Associate Director of Housing at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and constantly cutting edge in all that he did. He aspired to hire a balanced team of practitioners that shared values in inclusivity, ambition, and scholarship.  In his own way he had high expectations for his staff and fully expected those around him to try and make a difference in the profession and the world.  My staff teams will see a lot of him in me.  However, that was just one small part of the true person.  Stephan also had humility and compassion.  He could stop cold in his tracks to carefully listen to you.  He shared in your life’s growth.  He trusted you unconditionally.  He was like a big brother wanting his little brothers and sisters to do better.

I watched Stephan a lot.  I admired his skill in reading a resume and his tenacity in hiring staff.  He never forgot a person and, in some ways, never stopped recruiting the people he valued.   He shared with me the gift of unconditional support and showed me his pride as his staff went on to do other wonderful things.  This field is filled with people like Stephan.  We shouldn’t forget them.  In fact, we should try and become more like them.

Robin Diana I first met at a Commission for Administrative Leadership (as a side note: if you are a member of ACPA and not involved in one of the commissions, states divisions, or standing committee, do join them and get involved).  We were both new professionals at our very first ACPA in Miami (my first ACPA was actually the joint convention in Chicago in 1987.  It was there I first heard the questions why is there both an ACPA and NASPA).  Somehow Robin and I found our way into this commission meeting.  I am joking when I say it but it seems we introduced ourselves and immediately was assigned a task or committee. Who would have guessed that 23 years later, countless committees and convention teams together, plenty of 10-minute updates in the hallway or over coffee, and watching our families evolve and children grow that we would still be together as the Boston 2010 President and Convention Chair.  Neither one of us would have guess this in the late 1980’s, yet alone in the 2000’s.

Robin cares.  She cares about her team, people, and ACPA.  She follows the details and trusts people.  She believes in the good of all people.  She also believes in knowledge, intelligence, and common sense.  Her idealism is subtly balanced by her pragmatism.  This is why she is an
awesome convention chair and an even more awesome colleague, mentor, or friend to hundreds of others.  I have learned many things from working with Robin, maybe the biggest lesson is collegiality.

ACPA is home to many people all seeking different things from this association.  Whether you are a new professional, middle manager, faculty, senior student affairs officer, or corporate partner there is something in ACPA for you.  Contained in this ACPA experience are life’s lessons, strategies to improve our workplace, mentors, caring colleagues, and the five minute update in the hallway. Take advantage of your ACPA and take advantage of your 8,500 friends and colleagues in your home — in your APCA.  Weeee.

Please follow the ACPA President blogs at For the most up to date information follow Twitter (ACPAPREZ).

Surviving the First Year: Challenges, Benefits, and Tips for a Successful Faculty Experience

Surviving the First Year: Challenges, Benefits, and Tips for a Successful Faculty Experience

Megan Moore Gardner
University of Akron
Jeni Hart
University of Missouri

The purpose of this five- part Developments series is to provide insight into making the transition from student affair practitioner to student affairs faculty. Contributors discuss career trajectories, the job search process, interview experiences, transitional challenges, writing for publication and offer general advice. Additional key points include insights into the pros and cons of moving from practitioner to faculty, the value of administrative experiences, faculty job searches, negotiating a faculty position, and tips for managing the first year as a professor. Each article includes real life examples, appropriate connections to the literature, and essential information for those considering the move from administration to faculty.

Life as a faculty member is different than that of a student affairs administrator and educator. However, many of the professional skills mastered as an administrator may be transferred to enhance faculty work. Increased autonomy, pressure to effectively balance teaching, research, and service, and figuring out an entirely new and different organizational culture are but a few of the demands of faculty work. Developing a good understanding of faculty culture and expectations, coupled with the application of skills already honed in an administrative position, will contribute to a successful first year and overall career as a faculty member. In this article, we review common challenges faced by faculty in their first year, characteristics of administrative work that may be used to enhance faculty work, and conclude with suggestions to ease the transition and assist with not only surviving, but thriving in the first year.


Professional autonomy is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of faculty work. Such autonomy, however, may also be one of the biggest challenges. New faculty transitioning from administrative positions that functioned according to a typical “nine to five” work day or that required the professional to be physically present on campus 40 plus hours per week may experience initial dissonance with the faculty time-clock. Faculty life provides opportunities to work outside of the traditional office or classroom setting with limited to no supervision of your work. This may present challenges to those who struggle to stay on task, who are frustrated by sometimes ambiguous expectations, or who have difficulty with professional self-discipline. The initial freedom is quite refreshing. This freedom allows faculty members to determine when and where they work best—which is often critical in the pursuit of research. It can also be a tremendous asset in juggling work and family. At the same time, many higher education programs offer courses in the late afternoons and evenings, which can challenge work and family integration (and perhaps the time of day when you are most productive as a writer). Even with such autonomy and flexibility, maintaining a personal schedule is beneficial in order to ensure you can effectively manage all teaching, research, and service activities.

A second challenge deals with the difficulty of balancing teaching, research, and service expectations. Particularly in the first year of faculty work, a great deal of time is spent learning about the culture and expectations of the new work environment. Many institutions allow first-year faculty to engage in a reduced course load in an effort to provide a transition period that helps create and maintain balance. Likewise, many departments try to “protect” junior faculty from service responsibilities, in order to allow you more time to focus on research and teaching. This may feel a bit uncomfortable, since many student affairs professionals have become accustomed to engaging in committee work and connecting with others throughout cmpus on a regular basis. This protection from service creates an additional tension. Most often, as a new faculty member, you are on a new campus and in a new community. Service can be a wonderful opportunity to meet others across campus—others who may become friends, colleagues, and collaborators. With this in mind, you may want to agree to service responsibilities (e.g., curriculum committees, policy committees, awards committees, etc.) in intentional ways. Accept invitations to committees that may help you in other areas of your position. For example, if your research focuses on women, agree to serve on your campus committee for the status of women. Or if you feel you need a setting to talk about teaching, agree to serve on the curriculum committee.

Creating new classes, forging a research agenda, and engaging in meaningful service could each easily be all consuming activities. It is necessary and important for you to be aware of the challenge of balance and to take the steps necessary to establish it at the beginning of your career in an effort to continue to have well-rounded professional experiences throughout your academic career. Moreover, for many new faculty the pressure to, and process of, publishing can be extremely long and arduous. Recognizing that you are a in a marathon, not a sprint when it comes to publishing is the key to surviving the publishing process. You may have colleagues in your department who are willing to read drafts of your work before submission, or you may have graduate assistant support that can take some pressure off your other demands. Do not be reticent to ask for advice and assistance, including suggestions on how to work with graduate assistants for the first time. Given the somewhat ambiguous nature of faculty work coupled with unprecedented autonomy, supervising graduate students feels quite different from supervising student affairs staff who have more delineated timelines and responsibilities.

Finally, faculty and administrative cultures are very different and the dichotomy can create some anxiety and frustration for new faculty transitioning from administrative roles. The faculty culture is one that is dominated by rank and autonomy. As mentioned in preceding paragraphs, faculty typically have a great deal of freedom of expression, time, and opinion. As such, it can be difficult to establish colleagues, find mentors, and create professional relationships. Moreover, faculty culture is often dominated by meetings; extensive discussion; and strict adherence to collective bargaining agreements, bylaws, and/or Robert’s Rules of Order. Each of these rules and regulations takes time to learn and understand, tasks that may be daunting for the new faculty member. Decisions that may be made in a top-down manner in an administrative setting are often made through group discussion, voting, and consensus in the faculty setting. This often results in longer and more drawn out decision-making processes. New faculty who are used to a faster-paced, more hierarchical decision making process may experience discord when first exposed to the faculty culture of decision making.

As a first-year faculty member, it is important to understand your role as an assistant professor and the expectations others have for those in that role. More often than not, first year assistant professors are expected to spend the year learning about the organizational culture; finding balance between their teaching, research, and service expectations; and laying the groundwork for their anticipated contribution to new knowledge and to the profession. This is the year to ask questions, find mentors, and read as many organizational documents (e.g., the promotion and tenure guidelines at the department, college, and university if you are on a tenure track; collective bargaining agreements) as you can in an effort to gain the most complete understanding of your organization’s culture.

Using Previous Administrative Experience to Enhance Faculty Work

Previous administrative experience can enhance faculty work in a variety of ways. First and foremost, student affairs administrators are educators. You have been educating students throughout your administrative career. You are well-versed in the merits of both the curricular and the co-curricular learning experiences. The understanding of the out-of-class experience and the myriad ways it can be used to enhance the in-class experience greatly benefits students and can assist you with the effective transfer of theory to practice. Faculty who have served as administrators also generally have a strong understanding of the need for establishing relationships and collaborating throughout campus, skills that are particularly important during a time of reduced resources and increased demands for accountability. As a professional versed in administration, you may have a better understanding of the need for, and benefits of, faculty-administrative partnerships and may work more quickly to build such relationships through service and teaching experiences, including developing internships, assistantships, and practica for students.

Faculty may also use the knowledge garnered from previous administrative experience when working with students. More aware of the practical challenges and expectations faced by today’s students, administrators-turned-faculty may have a more thorough grasp of the complex nature of today’s students and may be better able to create classroom experiences that engage the adult students with whom we work. Finally, student affairs educators are required, on a daily basis, to juggle the demands of various institutional stakeholders including students, faculty, and members of the community. The ability to balance a number of demands at once, coupled with the ability to discern which tasks are most important, are skills that are easily transferred and applied to the faculty requirement of balancing teaching, research, and service. Recognizing which tasks or demands are most important and prioritizing accordingly is a much needed task for both administrators and faculty.

Surviving the First Year

The following suggestions are designed to assist new faculty during the first year.

  1. Negotiate a reduced course load and graduate or research assistant during the first year. The additional time and support will enable you to learn the culture of your new organization, establish organizational tools that will assist you as you move forward, and will provide you with overall assistance as you delve into teaching, research, and service.
  2. Establish and protect at least one “research day” that is set aside each week. If you are expected to spend 40% of your time on research, time equal to two days during the Monday-Friday week should be allocated for research. On those days, commit yourself to focusing primarily on your research agenda. This is particularly difficult during the first year when you are asked to participate in service opportunities and you are seeking to build connections on campus. It is, however, a necessary and important facet of your professional life that will, in the end, pay off immensely.
  3. A key to surviving the first year is learning how to say “No” professionally and graciously. New faculty members mean new opinions, hands, and people who can serve on committees, collaborate on research, develop new courses, etc. Figuring out the aforementioned culture of the institution is cumbersome enough in the first year. Adding too much committee work, overloading research and becoming beleaguered by teaching responsibilities will only contribute to overwhelming and underproductive first year.
  4. Partner with others on research. Particularly in the first year, it can be difficult to get started with your research agenda. A great way to get your foot in the door is to partner with colleagues from your current institution and throughout your field. This will reduce your research work load at the beginning and will provide you with ample learning opportunities and collaborative experiences. But be savvy; if your reward system expects an independent (i.e., solo) research agenda in order to earn tenure, you will want to do this judiciously.
  5. Get to know your institution and your colleagues. Pay attention to department, college, and institutional cultures. Seek to understand institutional politics and how politics function within your own department, college, and institution. Understanding the processes and political culture of your institution will enable you to figure out how you fit into the institutional tapestry. It will also help you figure out those colleagues who may be a good fit for research partnerships, mentoring, and professional relationships.
  6. Ask questions when you are unsure of policies, situations, or requests. This will help you begin to unravel the sometimes complex and ambiguous nature of faculty work. It will also ensure that you are doing your work in accordance with faculty guidelines and expectations.
  7. Remember there is always next semester. You do not have to do everything during your first semester or even year. As previously mentioned, you are in a marathon, not a sprint. Many of the aforementioned tasks take time and providing yourself the flexibility and understanding to take that time is a key to your success both in the first year and beyond. In addition, those asking you to participate in projects or committees will continue to ask you if you do good work. So, refer back to #3.
  8. Do not forget the core reason for your work…students. It is very easy to get caught up in the politics of faculty life and forget that you are there to serve students. When you get frustrated or overwhelmed, remind yourself of the many ways in which your work enhances the academic and co-curricular lives of students.

Concluding Remarks

The first year of faculty work presents many new challenges and unique professional nuances. If managed effectively, however, your new role can be extremely rewarding. Becoming versed in both the benefits of faculty life as well as the potential pitfalls will enable you to achieve success and satisfaction with both your first year and your overall career in academia.

Please send inquiries and feedback to Megan Moore Gardner at [email protected].