Expanding Access to Study Abroad for Disadvantaged Students

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

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

Source: Data comes from NASFA

Why Study Abroad?

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

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

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

Expanding Access: An Exemplar Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways

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

Shared Vision

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

Expanding the Team

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

Mutually Reinforcing Activities

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

Measuring Outcomes 

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

Tapping into Existing Funding

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

Discussion Questions

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

About the Author

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

Please e-mail inquires to Jason E. Lane.

Follow him on Twitter at @ProfJasonLane


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

Technology in Student Affairs

Technology in Student Affairs

In every aspect of student affairs, technological events influence change. Almost every staff member uses a computer to improve communication, provide more effective management, gain knowledge, or provide information. Over the past several years websites have evolved from an “add-on” to an essential element for providing information and interacting with students. Today, websites are used to seek information, assess, and strategically evaluate and enhance programs and services. They are used as interactive tools for students and their parents/guardians. In 2004, campuses responded to the downloading of commercial music and videos, and in 2005 professional are reacting to “Facebook.com”. The need to explore the role and responsibility that student affairs professionals have in preparing students for acceptable online behavior in the classroom and workplace arises. New questions continue to emerge. Clarity and professional development is needed for those in our profession and institutions regarding issues related to technological topics such as ethics and online behavior, judicial sanction tracking, confidentiality and privacy, student clubs and organization support, and health and wellness information.

As time passes, the influence of technology within student affairs becomes clearer. Each of us sees, feels, and experiences this impact. However, the effect of this ever-changing technology on the transformation of our profession does not appear to be a paramount issue for many. Too many student affairs staff demonstrate a limited interest and minimal knowledge base for guiding how technology can best be used. Will we seize the opportunity to lead the future direction of our profession or will we allow others to make these important decisions for us? We are at a crossroad to determine if we will take the lead or be led. Action is essential during this crucial time.

Over the past several years, topics related to technology sporadically appeared at conferences and in discussions while an organized focus on the subject remained minimal. In January 2004, the Electronic Student Services Task Force (ESSTF) was established in ACPA to address issues related to technology. In spring 2004, professionals who attended selected sessions at the NASPA and ACPA annual conventions were asked about technology experiences on their campuses. The information was organized and included in a report to the ACPA Executive Board in July 2004. The ESS Task Force reported on the following trends and challenges: Online access to services overwhelmingly emerged as the most prominent topic about the use of technology within student affairs. The trends indicate that technology is being used to build community, for assessment, and improved communication. More advanced and blended technologies improve processes. Online information has become more dynamic and engaging, thus requiring more student and staff interaction. Student affairs professionals acknowledge several benefits from using technology, including the increased ability to get students involved and being able to provide more accurate and consistent information available at all times (American College Personnel Association, 2004, p. 2).

While most trends that were expressed by professionals promoted a positive reaction to technology, challenges incorporated a more negative response from the impact of technology. “The need for resources, improved staff technology skills, resistance to change, and fear were entwined with new concerns such as innovative methods for cheating, illegal downloading, and the loss of the personal touch [through face-to face meetings]. Professionals focused on the need for staff to use the technology available, to focus on student learning and development, and for administration support” (American College Personnel Association, 2004, p.2).

The ESSTF turned to ACPA, “as a vital organization that supports the student affairs profession, to develop and implement an effective plan to bring together experts and leaders in the field and to address, educate, and guide the path for innovative uses of technology” (American College Personnel Association, 2004, p.2). Understanding that the “findings showed that little was being accomplished to provide direction, planning, and sustainability for best practices and successful models for using and integrating technology within student affairs” (American College Personnel Association, 2005, p.1), the Executive Board responded favorably to the ESSTF report. A second report was presented to the Executive Board in January 2005 which focused on several recommendations and strategies to address technology issues.

At the 2005 ACPA conference, the Executive Board passed a motion to continue the ESSTF for another year in collaboration with the Commission on Administrative Leadership Technology Committee. Together, these two groups will work to establish effective means for professionals to discuss student affair trends, prioritize and categorize technology issues, discover educational opportunities related to these technology topics and issues, encourage research related to technology within student affairs, and report findings to the ACPA Executive Board.

To begin, professionals must move beyond their personal fears and phobias about technology. We are the “human element” that is driving technological change. We must begin to accept technology not only as a as “compelling force instigating movement and change” but also as “a mechanism humans use to move forward making ideas a reality” (Kleinglass, 2000, p.13). By understanding the role and the impact technology has on the actions, expectations, and behaviors of students, we can begin to guide the role of technology within student affairs and to influence the future path of the profession.

Today, technology-driven change impacts university activities including the development of community, sharing of experiences and learning (Duderstadt, Atkins, & Van Houweling, 2002). When professionals within student affairs accept the responsibility to act, they will become the leaders of the profession. Together, professionals on the task force and in the field can establish a meaningful foundation on which to build the future. Discussion on the impact and role of technology in student affairs can continue with a purposeful direction that benefits and strengthens the role of student affairs within educational institutions. Through this demonstration, administrators, faculty, and other members of the higher education community will increasingly be able to understand the important role of student affairs professionals to enhance student development, contribute to student learning, build upon the student experience, and suggest guidelines for training of new professionals.

Student affairs professionals are in an excellent position to lead, to take action, and to understand what is at stake. “[The] tools necessary for managing change might just lie somewhere in sociology, social psychology, cultural anthropology, economics, and organization theory” (Curry, 2002, p.128). Many student affairs professionals hold degrees in the humanities or social sciences and develop expertise in working with student populations. As experts in student and community development, student services, student communication, and student learning, we in student affairs must recognize our responsibility to advocate and to be a resource to understand, translate, guide, and incorporate the direction of technological change within the field, for today and for the future. Our responsibility to lead change becomes logical and necessary. We must face the questions about how to use technology to benefit students, incorporate the values of higher education, meet institutional goals, and enhance learning. We have to establish collaborative partnerships while advocating for student technological needs and expectations. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our profession and to students.

In the coming year, the Electronic Student Services Task Force will take steps to implement goals that provide venues for conversation on the impact of technology, now and in the future. How can we as professional increase our understanding of technological demands, functions, tools, and effectiveness? How can we seize educational moments and opportunities to use technology to improve student learning? How can we discover an effective balance between traditional face-to face communities and virtual communities? What are the professional competencies needed for students, staff, and new professionals? What do we need to know in order to build meaningful partnerships with administrators, faculty, and outside vendors? How can we take the lead for the destiny and direction of the profession?

Please join your ACPA colleagues; be proactive not reactive. Join the conversations and opportunities coming this year. Together, with guidance, commitment, and action from many of the experts in the field, we can affect the outcomes for the future. If you are interested in participating in the conversations or online meetings, or have suggestions, please send an email to [email protected].


  • American College Personnel Association. (2004, July). Report to the Executive Board from the Electronic Student Services Task Force. Washington DC: Author.
  • American College Personnel Association. (2005, January). Report to the Executive Board from the Electronic Student Services Task Force. Washington DC: Author.
  • Curry, J.R. (2002). The organizational challenge: IT and revolution in higher education. In R.N Katz & Associates (Eds.). Web portals and higher education: Technologies to make IT personal. (pp.125-138). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Duderstad, J. J., Atkins, D. E., & Van Houweling, D., (2002). Higher education in the digital age: Technology issues and strategies for American colleges and universities. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
  • Kleinglass, N. K. (2000). Addressing the reality of technology skills and competencies freshmen students use in their first year of higher education. D issertation Abstracts International (UMI No. 1042-7279).

Sudent Development Theory as a Foundation for Educational Practice: A Call to the Profession

Sudent Development Theory as a Foundation for Educational Practice: A Call to the Profession

The following article presents the outcomes of discussions from a student development think tank held in November 2002 in Indianapolis and funded by a grant from ACPA’s Educational Leadership Foundation. The think tank was an outgrowth of programs on student development theory held at the 2001 and 2002 ACPA National Conventions in which both presenters and participants affirmed the importance of student development theory. The think tank discussions addressed the future direction for student development theory research, theory-based practice, and related education, training, and professional development. Participants were: Dea Forney, Marylu McEwen, and Linda Reisser (the grant authors); Marcia Baxter Magolda, John Hernandez, Susan Jones, Terry Piper, Raechele Pope, Donna Talbot, and Vasti Torres (invitees). A draft of this document was presented for discussion and feedback at a program during the 2003 ACPA Convention in Minneapolis. This end product is an invitation to the profession to engage in reflection, dialogue, and action to integrate student development theory and practice for 21st century education.


We’re living in topsy-turvy times, and I think that what causes the topsy-turvy feeling is inadequacy of old forms of thought to deal with new experiences. I’ve heard it said that the only real learning results from hang-ups, where instead of expanding the branches of what you already know, you have to stop and drift laterally for a while until you come across something that allows you to expand the roots of what you already know.

Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974, pp. 163-164)

We are still living in topsy-turvy times that, perhaps more so than ever before, are demanding new ways of thinking, believing, and acting, and this is more likely to happen in the presence of multiple perspectives and diverse life experiences. The environmental contexts of today’s higher education institutions pose challenges such as declining resources, institutional values and reward systems that may be based more on student satisfaction than student learning and development, technological advances that may limit face to face relationships, ever more increasing demands on a fixed amount of faculty and staff time, and student behavioral problems that violate safe and civil learning environments (e.g., alcohol abuse, relationship violence, and hate incidents).

Student affairs educators have a responsibility to respond to such challenges. Student development theories, along with critical analysis of these theories, can serve as a powerful guide for practice as a framework for viewing, comprehending, and reflecting on today’s campus climates and as a potential design tool for action. While not the only guide for practice, student development theories represent a resource that may be even more valuable now than in the past. As always, using theory intelligently, tentatively, and empathically is recommended.

We, as think tank participants, advocate for reflective practice, an approach to one’s work that integrates thinking and doing, that resists the tendency to permit the urgent to displace the important, and that recognizes the value of informal theory, i.e., theory generated from observations of the individual practitioner’s students and context, as a guide. We argue for a shift away from a reactive, problem driven practice to a more proactive, educational role. Clearly, at times a problem focus must dominate practice. However, as an ongoing, overriding operating style, such an approach imposes limits in regard to the impact of the student affairs profession on both students and institutions. Moreover, student development theory is not at odds with the day to day reality of student affairs work nor with the need to address problems. In fact, student development theory can be used to create a more meaningful and purposeful educational experience; it is a tool for constructing meaning; it speaks to the deepest reasons for being on the planet: to actualize potential, offer gifts, and evoke the best self. Student development theory has the potential to contribute to answers to pressing questions.

It is crucial that undergraduate education be reshaped to achieve the goal of preparing learners for adult life in the 21st century United States. The expertise to accomplish this goal potentially rests to a large degree with student affairs educators because of both our deep knowledge of students and our unique role in the academy. Student affairs educators also need to reshape student affairs practice to promote development. Although the profession has for the past thirty years endorsed student development as a foundation for practice, there are some who question whether student affairs educators as a whole know the knowledge base and use it in consistent, intentional, and appropriately sophisticated and complex ways.

A 21st Century Vision of Student Development Theory

We, as think tank participants, advocate a more integrated, less fragmented approach to theory development and use. We advocate both evolution and revolution. Evolution of theory, for example, encourages theory changes as populations change. Revolution, on the other hand, suggests the creation of new “interdisciplinary” theories (e.g., a more effective linking of cognitive and psychosocial theories) and additional focus on the multidimensionality of students. In the best of all worlds, we, as a profession, collectively share the role of educator, with different emphases characterizing our specific jobs. We recommend continuing to move toward this ideal role and to share collectively, regardless of job title, the responsibility for building the desired future of theory development and use. In the past, Knefelkamp (1980) has argued for a common language across higher education institutions. What may be more useful today and tomorrow is an ability for student affairs educators to be multilingual, i.e., to be able to acquire and understand multiple languages, lenses, and perspectives, to adapt one’s language to different audiences such as faculty, administrators, and students, to bridge communication gaps in order to provide leadership in reshaping undergraduate education so that the developmental transformations necessary to achieve many of the goals of higher education (e.g., learning, citizenship, ethical behavior, intercultural maturity) happen.

As student affairs educators, we may want to pay particular attention to identifying, promoting, and asserting our unique expertise throughout higher education. Our expertise in student development and its relationship to student learning have virtually untapped potential to transform higher education. By more thoroughly educating our academic colleagues about our unique knowledge base, we may be better able to advocate for students, engage faculty in meaningful exchanges, and more fully transform the academy. It may be helpful at times to substitute “personal transformation” for “student development” and to acknowledge that everyone in the higher education setting has the potential to influence positively the transformation process. Collaborative efforts among faculty, student affairs educators, and students are required to address the complexities and multiple dimensions of these transformations.

We need to re-center student development in the profession. We need to regard facilitating student development as a process of being rather than only a process of doing. We need to integrate theory into ourselves, rather than seeing it only as a tool in a toolbox, so that it becomes a part of who we are. We need to resist the urge for a quick fix and embrace student development as a process that requires deliberate thought and action and care. We need to re-conceptualize theory as being about meaning making and relationships, not just as a vehicle to foster movement toward a particular outcome. In other words, knowledge and use of theory can help student affairs educators develop more effective relationships with students and create environments and opportunities to assist students with their meaning making. Our profession has been prone to trying to create a formula that will work versus cultivating a way of thinking that would give rise to particular actions in particular contexts. We need to encourage student affairs educators to stretch intellectually and to understand and use theories in their complexity instead of providing overly simplistic recipes or one-shot interventions that look good on paper but have few, if any, long-term solutions for complex problems.

We need to remember that theory evolved out of practice and that theory-based practice requires reflection. In turn, reflective practice includes ascribing to the values and beliefs described in the next section; viewing development as a process, not just a targeted activity; focusing on meaning and purpose; and becoming multilingual.

We, as a profession, have the potential to integrate the roles of theorist, practitioner, and educator, but we probably cannot play all of these roles equally well as individual professionals, nor are we likely to be given the time or support from our institutions to try to do so. We, as think tank participants, do believe, however, that it is viable and desirable to strive for the role of intentional educator. This role requires: knowledge of theory; the ability to reflect upon, critique, and challenge self and context; the ability to ground practice in knowledge; and the ability to identify appropriate educational outcomes.

Core Beliefs/Values

The position we advance emerges from a set of core beliefs and values. At the outset, it is important to recognize that the application of student development theory to practice revolves around a nexus of socially constructed theories and individuals’ interactions with them. Perhaps our existing theory base is not only about description of students, but because of the relationship of environments to people within most of the theories, the base is also about description of our educational institutions and how students have responded to them.

An underlying assumption of student development is that the promotion of intentional practice depends on engaging with the following core values:

  • an in-depth understanding and critical analysis of the student development theory knowledge base;
  • an ability to use the existing knowledge base to guide construction of new theory to address contemporary particulars;
  • an in-depth understanding of self in relation to one’s environment;
  • an ability to ground our work in knowledge of self and theory through reflective practice.

Student development theory is important because of its contributions to understanding self and others, meaning making, the core values of the profession, and credibility for the profession. Student development theory can help in the following ways:

  • by serving as a way of understanding, informing, critiquing, and assessing practice;
  • by serving as a design tool to create safe and civil learning environments;
  • by contributing to the development of educational relationships among all members of the campus community that can serve as contexts for transformation.

Engagement with these core values generates the development of certain competencies and promotes intentional practice. Appropriate use of student development theory is not a luxury. Instead it is an essential component of intentional practice.

Principles Underlying Education, Training, and Professional Development

Student personnel workers should not so much be expert technicians as they should be educators in a somewhat unconventional and new sense.

Esther Lloyd Jones & Margaret R. Smith, Student Personnel Work as Deeper Teaching (1954, p. 12)

The ability to use student development theory depends upon a student affairs educator’s depth and breadth of knowledge of theory and how this knowledge is integrated into the core of one’s professional thoughts and behaviors. Knowledge about theories is necessary but not sufficient for effective application.

Education, training, and professional development of student affairs educators is most effective when grounded in theoretical perspectives. Graduate education and professional training and development ought to help practitioners think about and respond to the question, “What guides my practice?”.

It is important to consider the context in which theories were developed. Theories describing intellectual, moral, ego, and psychosocial development and development of social identities have served us well. We need to be well versed in these theories as well as expand our theory base. Continual creation of theory in contemporary contexts is critical.

As a profession, we need to help educators (including graduate students, student affairs educators, and faculty) develop the skills to critique and implement theory and the habit of doing so. We also need to expand the base of those who are knowledgeable about how to construct and critique theory. All student affairs educators, not just selected faculty and practitioners, have the responsibility to be knowledgeable about student development theory and how to construct and critique theory.

In order to successfully apply theory to practice, educators must have a clear sense of expected outcomes. Numerous national reports and particular institutional missions guide us in identifying the desired learning outcomes of college and the characteristics of a college-educated person. Educators must balance these desired outcomes with knowledge about where theory presumes students might be headed and student-constructed desired outcomes (e.g., recognize developmental issues and patterns as well as individual differences).

Recommended Actions

Student development theory has the potential to aid in creating optimal environments, interventions, and opportunities. To this end, we, as think tank participants, offer the following recommendations. Although we recognize that theory development, practice, and education are not discrete variables, we offer recommendations in these categories as a way to begin the process of moving forward toward a more integrated view and a more integrated role for those who engage in student affairs work. To support all three aspects, we recommend the creation of a student development clearinghouse.

Theory Development

We recommend:

  • identifying, reviewing, and critiquing what constitutes the current knowledge base;
  • a shared responsibility in the profession for improving our theory base by engaging in research needed to enhance and expand our theory base;
  • comprehensive, multi-dimensional, multi-campus, multi-method longitudinal studies that address both enduring characteristics and relevant particulars in order to produce a holistic vision;
  • a community of scholars approach, with involvement of faculty, students, and practitioners;
  • changing the culture in regard to the dichotomy between theory and practice;
  • bridging the gap between practitioners and researchers/theorists by reinforcing the idea that practitioners and students can also be researchers and construct theory;
  • hearing students’ voices directly, for example, by listening to and carefully studying student narratives to capture the complexities, richness, and variation in students’ developmental journeys;
  • a collaborative approach to conceptualization, implementation, and interpretation.

Theory-based Practice

We recommend:

  • thinking of using theory as the foundation from which one’s practice emerges rather than thinking of theory as something done after or in addition to one’s day to day practice;
  • showcasing examples of effective theory-based practice, including providing a forum for sharing via publications, presentations, and other formats and reducing the bureaucracy involved;
  • developing an essential reading list, updating it periodically, and maintaining it on a website;
  • having a theory-based practice track at national conferences and creating other conference-like vehicles such as traveling workshops and summer institutes;
  • generating conversations among preparation program faculty, administrators, graduate students, and new professionals about theory-based practice;
  • incorporating standards of theory-based practice into job performance evaluations; research on theory-based practice;
  • finding effective means to utilize theory to address pressing campus issues.

Education, Training, and Professional Development

We recommend:

  • that faculty in graduate education programs be well versed in traditional and emerging theoretical perspectives;
  • that faculty nurture theory development by both themselves and their students by emphasizing both theory content and approaches to theory construction;
  • that faculty serve as role models for students in regard to theory use and construction;
  • re-conceptualizing the professional role from that of “practitioner” to that of “educator”;
  • ongoing professional development opportunities that emphasize increasing self-knowledge and knowledge of students;
  • innovative methods and diverse delivery systems for education, training, and professional development (e. g., e-learning, training tapes, conferences, one time and longer term seminars) to reach as many individuals as possible and to meet the needs of those with varying degrees of prior education and experience;
  • that graduate preparation programs, with the cooperation of supervising practitioners, provide multiple opportunities for intentionally designed structured activity focusing on application of theory to practice and for developing the skills necessary for ongoing reflection.
An Invitation to Dialogue

This document’s aim is to encourage reflection and discussion about student development in the 21st century. To that end, we pose the following questions for both individual and group consideration:

  • To what extent is theory evidenced in our practice?
  • To what extent does our practice influence future theory development?
  • How do we reinforce theory use by practitioners?
  • Have we underestimated the role of context?
  • How can we balance the complexity of theory with the need for the “sound-bite” sized conceptual lenses for busy institutional leaders?
  • Has “putting out brush fires” replaced professional practice?
  • Do we teach theory as an answer versus a process? Do we view theory as a resource to help students make meaning of their own journeys?
  • Do we, as faculty and supervisors, ask our graduate students to be reflective in their practice?
  • Is theory use being masked in a different language, making it more difficult to identify and label?
  • What kind of evidence do we expect to see to know that theory in use is working? What are the expectations for validating theory use in practice, and how will we know when the expectations are achieved?
  • Although there has been an evolution of theory over the past 30 years, has the evolution been commensurate with the changing demographics of students in higher education? Further, has there been an evolution of practice?
  • Can we/do we wish, as a profession, to change the culture of the field?
  • Do we want to infuse student development theory in the student affairs profession? If so, how do we accomplish this infusion?

We invite and encourage student affairs professionals to engage in this dialogue about re-centering student development theory within student affairs. Re-centering student development theory involves embracing this body of knowledge as a way of being in our work. Re-centering student development theory also means engaging in reflective practice and using the knowledge to create more meaningful and purposeful educational experiences for students.

Student development theory became a cornerstone for the student affairs profession in the 1970s and 1980s. It is now time for student affairs professionals to renew our emphasis upon student development theory through theory-based practice, theory development, and education, training, and professional development.

The Donna M. Bourassa Mid-Level Management Institute Experience

Mid-Managers. Are you one? Do you aspire to be one? If you answered “yes,” then ACPA’s Mid-Level Management Institute is just what you need!

This past January I had the opportunity to attend the Mid-Level Management Institute. I greatly anticipated what I would learn and whom I would meet, but I could not have predicted what I would take with me when I completed the experience. ACPA’s Mid-Level Management Institute is an excellent opportunity provided to help those mid-level professionals who want to strengthen their administrative skills and understand the ever-changing dynamics of our campuses and the profession. The Institute was renamed this year in honor of former ACPA Associate Executive Director Dr. Donna Bourassa, who established the Institute in 1999 as a way to ‘promote a more advanced understanding of the principles of student affairs and provide effective management tools to excel.’ This was the first institute that Donna did not physically attend as she had passed away the previous September. However, after hearing shared experiences by the long-time faculty in residence at the Institute, Donna was certainly there in spirit.

The Institute is grounded on several key areas: Building Foundations, Setting the Stage, Personnel and Professional Issues, Strategies for Enacting Change, and Continued Professional Development. In addition to classroom time, social time provided opportunities to interact with many of the approximately 35 nationwide participants. (Even Alaska!) What I enjoyed most about this experience was seeing that challenges affecting housing and residence life professionals also affect other student affairs professionals. Our faculty in residence was also a highly valuable programmatic component. These consummate professionals shared their experiences and wisdom with us as colleagues and mentors. Dr. Jill Carnaghi, Dr. Tom Jackson, Dr. Tim Pierson, Dr. Dawn Person, Dr. Vasti Torres, and Dr. Jacqueline Skinner helped our group navigate through subjects such as financial responsibility and management, the doctoral degree decision, keeping current with professional development opportunities, and avoiding burnout in the field.

The small groups were one of the most beneficial parts of the Institute. Each participant was placed into a small group which was facilitated by a faculty in residence. These small groups were vital in processing the day’s events and discussions and with analyzing where each of us was in our own career paths. The culmination of the Institute and small group work was the creation of a personalized career development plan designed to assess our strengths and deficiencies and seek out opportunities to better our skills and abilities in the profession.

The Donna Bourassa Mid-Level Management Institute is an excellent investment in your career development as a student affairs professional. The friendships and connections you make through this Institute will stay with you and will continue to support you long after the Institute ends. For more information, check out http://www.myacpa.org/pd/pd_mmi.cfm and feel free to ask me any questions you may have about participation in the Institute as well.



What’s the difference between a Standing Committee and a Commission? What is a Core Council and what do those groups do? How does the Executive Council and National Office Staff work together and what roles do they play?

For several years we have been hearing these and other questions from you about the structure and operations of ACPA. Previous surveys and assessments have shared some common themes—the ACPA organizational structure is too confusing and too large to be as efficient and “nimble” as it needs to be to serve your needs. As a result, in fall 2004 Dr. Patty Perillo, from UMBC, was charged to work with a diverse and representative Taskforce to examine ACPA’s current governance structure.


In 2004, ACPA President Dr. Jeanne Steffes charged this Taskforce to consider the re-organization and re-engineering of the ACPA structure, ultimately developing a framework for ACPA, based upon member needs, organizational and operational efficiencies, and the changing landscape of higher education and its constituent institutions. The Taskforce’s major goals are to recommend a governance structure that is clear and easy to understand, provide suggestions for streamlining governance and Executive Council operations, and help maximize opportunities for a connected sense of the organization.

Precipitating Factors/Why Now?

That we are called now to this action is inspired by many factors. These include the decision to not merge with NASPA, the installation of a new executive director, and the national trend toward increased associational professionalization, delivering more services with less reliance upon a volunteer base. Most importantly, the wisdom of our members and the thoughtful comments of outside consultants suggest that we will not thrive&mdahs;and may even begin to suffer negative consequences—should change not be carefully examined and implemented today.

Although ACPA has been in existence since 1924, it has been an independent Association only since 1992. In 13 years as an independent Association, we have made a variety of thoughtful, strategic decisions that have positioned us to serve the diverse needs of college student educators nationally, and increasingly, internationally. Not surprisingly, however, the complex developmental processes we know drive positive change in our students is also part of a vital organizational life. As we “mature,” it is time for ACPA to look inward and develop a planful strategy for growth.

Governance Taskforce Membership

The Taskforce is comprised of diverse members, representing many constituencies within ACPA from graduate students and new professionals, standing committee and commission chairs, past presidents, faculty, and senior student affairs officers. They are committed to our organization and its vitality and want to represent your voice and seek your input. Taskforce members include: Patty Perillo (Chair), Greg Blimling, Mela Dutka, Lee Hawthorne Keith Humphrey, Tom Jackson, Richard Johnson, Myra Morgan, Stacey Pearson, Julie Ramsey, Greg Roberts, Matt Soldner, Jeanne Steffes, Chris Strong, Bridget Turner Kelly, Lynn Willett, and Liz Whitt.


All ACPA members will have an opportunity to give feedback to the process and will have a chance to vote on the final proposed structural change. The Taskforce has already solicited feedback at the 2005 ACPA convention and through over 40 consultation interviews with current ACPA members post convention. All ACPA members are encouraged to contribute ideas and feedback via www.umbc.edu/acpa; there is a link on this website which provides members an opportunity to submit ideas. The Taskforce will convene in the fall and begin to formulate an organizational model for the Association based on the information and materials that we have gathered during the last ten months, as well as materials compiled over the past six years as ACPA members have been engaged in this dialogue for quite some time.

The Taskforce will disseminate information to the membership (i.e., via special ACPA Website, ACPA E-Alerts, Developments) in January 2006 and will have open forum sessions and a marketing campaign at ACPA’s 2006 Indianapolis Convention. All ACPA’s members will be encouraged to vote on this new governance structure in April 2006.

Thank you In Advance for Your Feedback!

This is an important time for ACPA to stabilize itself in membership and focus, grow as a responsive and easy to understand organization, and help our members meet the needs of student affairs professionals around the world. Thank you in advance for being an active part of this process. For more information, please contact Patty Perillo, Chair of the ACPA Governance Taskforce, at [email protected] or 410-455-1394 or visit the Governance Taskforce website at www.umbc.edu/acpa.

Ethical Dialogue and Responsible Stewardship

This has been a very busy conference season for me, having had the opportunity to attend three student affairs conferences in a three-week period. In addition to NASPA and ACPA, I was also privileged to speak at the Caribbean Tertiary Level Personnel Association (CTLPA) meeting in Kingston, Jamaica. Participating in these meetings gave me the opportunity to compare the culture, values, and purposes of all of the groups and also to observe the similarities in our collective mission in higher education. Our common goal seems to be the preparation of students for their future as citizens of the global community, contributing members of their local community, responsible and caring family members and individuals with a sense of their own vocation and value in the world. Although the emphasis may vary from place to place, the purposes are consistent. Our profession contributes to student learning within a larger context of post-secondary education. Students in our institutions are expected to acquire academic knowledge, technical knowledge and skill as well as interpersonal and meaning making skills. All of this skill and knowledge must be balanced in student lives for any of us to consider our work successful.

It is clear that we in student affairs and services have created a profession that makes significant contributions to the education of college students as they prepare for their place in the world. This common purpose for all of us, regardless of specialty, type of institution or geographical area raises a key question for the ethics of our profession — Where is our common set of ethical standards? Why do we have several different and overlapping statements issued by the different associations to which we belong? Do our colleagues and students, people with whom we work on a daily basis, care what professional association we belong to or are they more concerned with the quality of our work and service, our ability to meet the needs of students, faculty and our institutions in our areas of expertise? It is time to deepen our dialogue on this topic.

Yankelovich (1999) identified dialogue as a missing skill in most problem solving conversations. A true dialogue has these elements: collaboration, active listening, re-examining all positions and assumptions, searching for strengths and values in others’ positions and exploring new options. It does not include voting, searching for weaknesses in other’s ideas competition or self-defense (pp. 39-40). Dialogue has three distinctive features; Equality and the absence of coercive influences, listening with empathy, and bringing assumptions into the open (pp. 42-44).

One of the key ethical concerns that all student affairs professionals must address is of responsible stewardship of resources (Fried, 2003). In a climate of fiscal constraint we are ethically obligated to use our limited resources efficiently and effectively in order to maintain the trust of all of our stakeholders. At the association level, we have a similar question — How much duplication of services and functions among associations can we afford? Does the current structure of two different umbrella associations for our profession continue to make sense or is there a possibility that a new kind of structure and relationship might improve our ability to function effectively? In informal conversations I have had with new professionals, there is a continuing question- why do we have two associations and what are the differences between them? After graduation from our preparation programs when membership costs are relatively low, few new or mid-level professionals feel able to spend the money to belong to both. In financially constrained circumstances they believe that they must choose and they are not clear about the criteria on which to make the choice. Common purposes are more obvious than historical differences. We are in a new era. As we forge a vision for the 21st century similarities are more important than differences although careful analysis will allow for consideration of both and dynamic interplay between them.

The concept of merging our two national associations is very complex and requires a great deal of dialogue. One good place to begin examining the idea of responsible stewardship and knitting our associations together might be in dialogue about ethics. We face many common ethical concerns ranging from issues of professional preparation standards and competence to questions about editorial policy and publication processes in both journals. There are debates about access, professional roles, freedom of speech and student behavior going on throughout the country. Much of our recent national discourse has been confined to dualistic ways of framing issues, particularly in the political domain. We are concerned about drawing lines between friends and enemies, knowing which side people are on. On our campuses, we should be able to conduct more sophisticated and nuanced conversations about complexity, particularly in discussion of ethics. The first step in the process of opening dialogue might be to ask what ethical issues need to be discussed within our own profession and how well do our ethical statements address them? Another step would be to raise the topic of creating communities of ethical discourse on our own campuses so that we can include our colleagues and students in the conversation and in the process of thinking about ethical dilemmas.

All of us need to be reminded that dialogues for purposes of mutual understanding are very valuable and certainly can co-exist with the occasional search for the right answer in any area from mathematics, to religion, to the definition of plagiarism. Those who have achieved higher levels of cognitive complexity as described by Kegan’s 4th position (1994) or Baxter Magolda’s level 4 (1992), should serve as role models to those who still see the world from level 2 in either of those schemes. The problems that face us as professionals, individuals, family members and global citizens certainly demand complex thinking. We can learn this level of skill and perception in conversation with each other and use it to address all kinds of ethical issues including the question about the appropriate arrangement of professional associations for the 21st century. Adversarial debates will not advance our understanding of the many issues we face including unprecedented ethical dilemmas. It is time to continue our dialogue and follow the evolving process toward increased collaboration in our profession and on our campuses.

Most dichotomies are fundamentally misleading. Simplicities are reassuring but complexities are usually more accurate. Chickens and eggs are mutually interactive. (Fried handout for student development theory course, 2003)


  • Baxter Magolda, M. (1992). Knowing and reasoning in college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Fried, J. (2003). Ethical standards and principles. In S. R. Komives, D. B. Woodard, Jr. & Associates (Eds.),Student services: A handbook for the profession. (pp. 107-127). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Kegan, R. (1994). In over our heads: The mental demands of modern life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Yankelovich, D. (1999). The magic of dialogue: Transforming conflict into cooperation. New York: Simon & Schuster.

From the Editor

From the Editor

I take great pleasure in welcoming a new look for Developments with this issue. Developments has evolved over the years, and this issue will be our first fully web-based and accessible issue. The national office has worked with me over the past two years to make this happen. The content will continue to be similar, but the document will now be more integrated with other ACPA web pages and resources. Please feel free to give feedback on the format.

As always, we are always looking for new writers for any topics important to the profession and the ACPA membership. If you have something you want to submit, please do. If you feel a topic or area is missing from the pages of Developments, please submit those suggestions and the editorial team will seek to find a writer to fill that request. Specifically, at this time as Annette Gibbs transitions from her role with Developments, Robert Henrickson, legal issues author, and I are seeking a second legal issues writer to share the responsibility with Robert for the four yearly issues. If you are interested or know someone who might be interested, please submit information to me.

Not Such a World Apart: What an Other-Worldly Convention Can Tell Us About Ours

The scene: December 2002, the first ACPA 2004 convention planning committee meeting in Philadelphia. As I walk to our meeting room, a person with a latex mask and a long billowing black cloak strolls casually towards me. Moments later, I see a shirtless man in leather pants, green body paint, dark sunglasses, nipple rings, and fright wig talking to someone with rainbow suspenders and 25 buttons that say things such as, “Purr if you like cats!” Is this my committee? No, we were here at the same time as PhilCon 2002, the annual meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.

Because our two groups shared the closest bathroom, we were afforded many occasions to observe this curious gathering. Periodically, members of the planning team would come back from our breaks shaking their heads and comment on some of the strange things they had just witnessed. I must say that, at first, the attendees of PhilCon were a very easy target for good-natured ribbing. Things started falling into place when I realized that we were at the beginning of what must be the Sci-Fi high holy days: Star Trek Nemesis was released that evening and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was coming out the following Wednesday.

However, over the course of the weekend, I was aware that I was making light of something that I did not understand. Admitting my own myopia, I picked up a program book to see what I could learn about this earnest and spirited group. I also spoke with a woman named Carol, a member of the PhilCon planning team.

At first, Carol talked more about the nuts and the bolts of the convention, how it was organized and some of its defining characteristics. The more we talked, the more I realized that despite my first impressions, ACPA and PhilCon had a lot more in common than I imagined. For example:

  • Hot Topics/Activism: We have issues related to affirmative action and FERPA. They have concerns about the impending cancellation of Farscape and the state of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Exhibit Halls: We have indestructible furniture and for-profit internship programs. They have sci-fi art and memorabilia.
  • Featured Guests: We have experts speaking about issues such as academic dishonesty and spirituality in the academy. They have guests speaking about sci-fi art and writing.
  • Committees/Sub-Organization: We have affinity groups related to LGBT, disabilities, and residence life. They have affinity groups for Goth/Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Gaming (role playing), Television, Books, Film, Hard/Plausible Science, and Anime.
  • Multiple Organizational Connections: We have advertising related to higher education organizations and institutes (e.g. AAHE, ACUHO-I, NACA, etc.). They have advertising for gatherings such as Penguicon (combination Science Fiction Convention and Linux Expo).
  • Social: We have Carnival and Cabaret. They have the Masquerade Hallway Costume Contest and “filking” (performing inventive and humorous spins on popular songs such as Little Dead Smurfette sung to the tune of Little Red Corvette). We have smaller parties for members with ties to specific graduate programs. They have smaller parties for members with more specific interests such as “Furry Fans” (i.e. individuals who adopt characteristics of animals that they admire such as tails, ears, etc.).

When I was thumbing through the PhilCon program, I was also struck by many similar programming characteristics to our own:

  • Current Issues: Science Fiction Promoting Alternate Sexual Lifestyles (A discussion of the way science fiction can lead us to living and loving differently), Changing Prejudices in Sci-Fi (With the demonization of Arabs and Muslims in current American Culture, would Dune be publishable today?), Was Tolkien a Racist? (What would the Orc Anti-Defamation League say?), and Security Leaks from the Future.
  • Research/Scholarship: The Physics of Time Travel, Mommy, Where Do New SF Writers Come From?, How Do You Change History Assuming You Have the Chance? (Does the time traveler shoot Napoleon, give Leonardo Da Vinci a laptop or publish just the right ad in the New York Times?), and Magical Objects (A ring is as commonplace as a toothbrush but a story about a quest for an enchanted toothbrush would make us snicker. What sort of objects work in this context and why?).
  • Practical Issues: Monsters, Aliens and Spirit Gum, Klingon Language For Beginners, Hey! I’m Not Dead Any More! (The implications of suspended animation: moral, religious, legal, social and biological. Will the revived dead be second class citizens or (in an unhappier future) a source of cheap protein?), How to Pass When You’re Over 150 (Vampires and other immortals need to conceal their nature. What are the legal, practical and emotional issues involved in outliving everyone you know and passing yourself off as your own heir?).
  • Honoring Their Own: A Tribute to Vincent Price.
  • Open Meeting: Gripe Session.

I also asked Carol about the deeper aspects of their convention–who attends and why, and what this convention does for its members. Carol noted that many fans (“mundanes” are those who do not enjoy science fiction/fantasy) come primarily for the opportunity to be with people like themselves in terms of interests and background. Fans find PhilCon to be a very supportive, encouraging and accepting environment. Carol said that many people attend for the “smiles and hugs” because PhilCon “is like coming home to a family.” Most people come here to renew old acquaintances, meet new people with similar interests, and even find romance (Carol met her husband and “soul mate” here). The unconditional acceptance and shared understanding allows fans to put their guards down. Some participants get to explore aspects of their real and idealized selves more fully – a meek woman might come to PhilCon in the character of Princess Yaya, all-powerful and confident. Some find this is the only place where they can openly explore issues of sexuality and transcend gender roles safely and without judgment. Others find that this is one of the only places they don’t need to explain themselves.

As I boarded the plane home, I tried to make sense of this collision of two convention cultures and what it said about each of us. This interaction certainly made the strange familiar and the familiar strange. Not surprisingly, I ended up learning more about ACPA than PhilCon. Given that I had just walked out of a very intense and protracted discussion about our role and responsibility as an ACPA convention planning committee member, it was clear that underneath the costumes, we had much more in common with PhilCon than I had originally thought. However you dress it up, both our conventions fulfill a need for our members to gather in a welcoming place for our shared communion, rejuvenation, and development. PhilCon may be more of a social gathering whereas ACPA’s convention supports the core work of the student affairs profession, but attendees want similar things our own members have repeatedly identified in our annual convention evaluations and surveys: meaningful connections, personal enrichment, and professional development.

This experience also has had a profound effect on my recent role as the ACPA 2005 Nashville convention chair. It has challenged me to frame the convention as something deeper. What is this annual gathering that draws thousands of people, rebirthed in different cities for less than a week, borne by the work of innumerable volunteer hours, with immeasurable commitment? What does the convention really mean for our members, and how has that shaped the way we have come to consistently organize it? What do we value and privilege and why?

The ACPA annual convention is arguably the most meaning-laden expression of our association’s core values, performed publicly on such a large scale. The convention serves the expressed and unexpressed needs of our association to ultimately help us to help our students. For a profession that knows the value of deep and sustained reflection, it is important for us to reflect on ourselves. Every artifact related to the convention serves as spoken and unspoken signifiers of our association’s culture, communicating what we value through our governance, organization, dress, buttons and badges.

Our convention is important because we do important and difficult work on our campuses. We must negotiate multiple and often competing priorities in institutional environments that don’t always appreciate our work. Thus, the convention is both a mirror and a lamp, reflecting our best and most true selves and illuminating our most cherished ideals. The convention inspires, enables and emboldens us to go back on our own campuses with renewed commitment to do our important work.

For many years I have wondered what people from the outside must think if they stumbled into our convention. Anthropologically speaking, we must seem like we are from a different land. I imagine that if any PhilCon members stumbled onto ACPA’s annual convention, they might say, “why do they do that —-that’s just so…weird.”

ACPA Books and Media Call for Proposals

ACPA Books and Media Call for Proposals

Do you have a good idea for a book? ACPA Books and Media, the book-publishing arm of ACPA, is soliciting proposals for book-length manuscripts. While we welcome proposals on any topic in line with the mission and goals of ACPA, we have a particular interest in receiving proposals on the following topics:

  • Racial/ethnic identity development
  • Issues facing men in college
  • Student affairs work in community colleges
  • Student affairs work in religiously-affiliated colleges
  • Student affairs work in HBCU’s
  • Student affairs work in Tribal colleges
  • Student affairs work in international settings
  • Study abroad
  • International student services
  • Native American college students
  • Muslim college students
  • Evangelical Christian students
  • Addressing students’ psychological/psychiatric issues in student affairs
  • Counseling issues in student affairs

If you have an idea for a book, please contact the Books and Media Editor, Nancy Evans, at [email protected] with a brief outline of your interests. She will be happy to respond to inquiries and to provide further information about the process for submitting a proposal.

ACPA Awards Call for Nominations

Celebrating Our Accomplishments – Comemorando Nossas Realizações – Adhimisha Wetu Ukamili – Célébration de Nos Accomplissements – gkKPT DgkWscpd – празднать наши выполнения – Firande Vår Utförandena – Celebrating Nostrum Factum – εορτασμóς των ολοκληρώσεών μας – Noj tsiab hauj lwm

Whether in English, Portuguese, Swahili, French, Cherokee, Russian, Swedish, Latin, Greek, or Hmong, as a higher education community we are called to be “celebrative,” where there is rejoicing in what we accomplish and where we can be publicly proud of those accomplishments. At our recent convention in Nashville, over 130 individuals were recognized through our awards program for significant achievements within and contributions to the higher education community, the student affairs profession and to ACPA, its commissions, state divisions and standing committees.

It’s time, once again, to celebrate those individuals whose efforts and contributions advance the goals of ACPA and our profession. All members of ACPA are eligible to nominate or be nominated for these awards. As a member of ACPA, you are encouraged to review the award categories listed below and consider nominating your colleagues and other members of ACPA whose work and contributions have been significant to your practice and to our profession.

Please note that the various awards have different deadlines and different contact persons, so read the material carefully. For information on the awards, visit the ACPA website at www.myacpa.org/mem/mem_awa.cfm

Our members play a pivotal role in this process as we honor the work of those who help to shape our profession and to recognize the generations that have come before and will follow after us. You are invited into that tradition and journey. Let the celebration begin!


You may nominate yourself or another individual. To nominate someone, send a nomination letter including the nominee’s telephone number, and e-mail address. The nomination letter should be accompanied by supporting materials, which include an outline of the person’s, or group’s contributions based on the criteria for the award. Nominees may be contacted for additional information. You are strongly advised to contact the person listed for the award prior to mailing your nomination to get accurate mailing information (USPS or email). The contact person may also be able to help you with any nomination materials that are required.

In addition to this general nomination process, the Core Council for Member Services and Interests annually convenes a Nominating Committee, comprised of a broad representation of previous award winners and leaders within the association, which will generate a list of nominations for the first five award categories listed below. The association’s Awards Selection Committee will consider nominations from both the general process and nominating committee.


This award recognizes someone who has advanced a higher education agenda through work at the institutional, regional, and/or national level. The recipient would be someone who has worked outside the association to contribute to the higher education landscape and has, in a meaningful way, enhanced the work done on college campuses and/or with college students. The recipient of this award can be (but is not limited to) a college president, another association leader, a higher education scholar/researcher, someone from the corporate world, or a political leader.

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.


This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the profession’s body of knowledge through publications, films, speeches, instructions, tapes, and other forms of communication.

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.


This award honors the life and work of one of the earliest pioneers and shapers of our profession, Esther Lloyd-Jones. The award recipient exemplifies the profession’s commitment to service through significant, continued, and unselfish service/leadership activities that have benefited the profession, ACPA and the profession’s practice on the state and national level.

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.


This award is presented to practitioners whose designs and program implementations as well as services for their campus are based on the best national practices in student affairs. The association intends to honor practitioners who have been responsible for achievements that impact a campus for a sustained period of time (five to ten years).

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.


Recognizes individuals who have a minimum of two decades or other exhibited long-term involvement and service to the field of student affairs over an extended period of time; recognized level of scholarly productivity; and/or leadership at one or more institutions of higher learning as a Student Affairs staff member, administrator, or faculty member.

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.



These awards recognize individuals and exemplary campus-based programs in the field of higher education and student affairs that have in some way contributed to making their campus communities a welcoming environment for all.

Individual Award:

To qualify for the individual award, an individual must have been employed professionally in the field of student affairs for a minimum of five years and must have provided leadership to several initiatives that support diversity and multiculturalism on their home campus.

Exemplary Program:

The following program criteria are used in considering exemplary program recipients: program should respond to an assessed or measured need in the areas of multiculturalism and diversity; achieve an expressed outcome; have a well-developed and creative design; translate to other institutional environments; and include an evaluation process that demonstrates its impact.


Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact Vernon A. Wall at [email protected] for additional information or to submit a nomination.


Each year up to three Senior Professionals and up to five Emerging Professionals are accepted. These individuals are honored for their contributions to the fields of administration, teaching, research, and publications. Service to ACPA and leadership are also factors that should be considered. This award celebrates the lives of Philip A. Tripp and Ursula Delworth, who dearly loved to challenge their contemporaries and junior colleagues in a spirit of personal and professional sharing, good humor, and intellectual debates. The Latin phrase, “annuit coeptis,” reflects Professor Tripp’s optimism for the future by suggesting that “He has smiled upon that which we have begun.”

Deadline: December 6, 2005. Please contact Delight Champagne at [email protected]. for more information or to submit a nomination.


Established in 2001, the Senior Student Affairs Practitioner Program Award recognizes senior level professionals who exemplify good practice in student affairs and who have made outstanding contributions to their institutions and the student affairs profession. Individuals selected for this honor become members of the program for a four year term and are involved in many aspects of the Association including working with the Executive Director and Association leaders to provide professional development opportunities, participating in research related to SSAO positions; developing ways for SSAOs to network and collaborate; mentoring younger professionals; and forming liaison relationships with a variety of constituencies within and beyond ACPA.

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact Christine Strong at [email protected] for more information regarding the nomination process.


Implemented in 1984, the ACPA Senior Scholars Program provides scholars with a continuing opportunity to share their scholarship their the presentation of a program of their own choosing at each national convention and, upon the request of the ACPA President, to serve the association on projects related to their field of interest. Nominees are typically senior members of the profession, such as full professors or senior student affairs officers. A maximum of twelve members can hold active membership. To nominate an individual, please submit a letter of nomination describing qualifications and the candidate’s vita.

Deadline: November 15, 2005. Please contact Sue Saunders at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.


The Emerging Scholars program was implemented by the ACPA Senior Scholars in 1999 to provide promising new scholars with mentorship and support to enhance research skills and pursue research initiatives in areas of interest to ACPA. Emerging Scholars serve a two-year term which begins with the ACPA convention immediately following their selection. In their first year as Emerging Scholars, successful applicants will attend a day-long research institute with the Senior Scholars prior to the beginning of the ACPA convention. For the next 2 years Emerging Scholars may choose to work with one or more Senior Scholars on research projects and, as a culmination of their work, will present their research at the Emerging Scholar Research Symposium held at the annual convention.

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Please contact C. Carney Strange at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination. Nomination letters should address the nominee’s research experience and potential to benefit from participation in the Emerging Scholars program.


Commission Awards for Excellence are given in the following areas: Membership, Professional, Programming, Publications, and Research. In addition, the Overall Distinguished Accomplishment Award is given to the Commission that demonstrates, through the breadth of its achievements, outstanding progress toward attaining ACPA’s and Commission goals.

Deadline: November 7, 2005. Contact Heidi Levine at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.


These awards include: Outstanding State & International Division Award; Outstanding State & International Division Leader Award; and Outstanding State & International Division Award for Innovation.

Deadline: November 5, 2005. Please contact Ann Groves Lloyd at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.


Award information for individual Commissions, State & International Divisions, and Standing Committees is available by contacting the appropriate Presidents or Chairpersons. Please check the ACPA web site for the appropriate contact persons and deadlines.If you have any questions about the above awards information or this year’s awards program, please contact T. Todd Masman, Bemidji State University, at [email protected] or 218.755.3760.

Student Affairs Study Tour to Australia

From Washington, DC, Australia is over 10,000 miles away; from Los Angeles, it’s only a mere 7,800 miles. No matter the point of departure, the trek to Australia, affectionately know as “The Land Down Under,” by 40 participants and 5 faculty members was well worth the time and effort. From May 16-31, 2005 ACPA, ACUI and NASPA co-sponsored a student affairs study tour for the first time. The participants represented close to thirty different colleges and universities; most were graduate students while others were full-time student affairs professionals.

With a curricular focus, the study tour was designed to do several things:

  1. Develop an understanding of the structure and practice of Australian higher education;
  2. Learn about the structure and practice of student services in the context of Australian higher education; and
  3. Gain insight into the issues and strategic directions for Australian higher education and student services.

Participants had the option to earn three semester hours of course credit or receive a program study certificate from the University of Arizona Center for the Study of Higher Education. All participants were required to participate in large and small group discussions and do readings of articles published on Australian higher education. Dr. Doug Woodard, faculty member at the University of Arizona and past president of NASPA, created the study tour curriculum and conducted lectures throughout the two-week visit.

The study tour included visits to eight Australian universities: University of Sydney, University of Newcastle, University of Wollongong, LaTrobe University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, Victoria University, and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT). Student services representatives at each university conducted presentations to the study tour group about their programs and services for students. There were also many opportunities to network with Australian colleagues and compare and contrast student services in the U.S. and Australia, as well as national higher education policies. While there were similarities in a few typical functional areas associated with student services, the study tour group also discovered fundamental differences.

The group learned that there are no professional preparation programs for those who wish to pursue a career in student services. Instead, most entered the field through the faculty ranks, from other academic offices, or did related work in social service or non-profit organizations. Unlike the U.S. where graduate preparation programs teach student development theory and this theory is applied in the work setting, the Australian counterparts were not very familiar with psychosocial development for college students, although a few knew the U.S. student affairs field widely used developmental theory in their work with students. Even the names of particular functional areas did not always reflect the same intent or focus in the U.S. For example, instead of using “Housing/Residence Life,” this service is known as “Accommodations.” And in Australia, the staff primarily assist students with finding housing, with little or no attention given to residence education.

A much larger issue for Australian universities is the recruitment and retention of indigenous students or those of Aboriginal ancestry. Most of the institutions visited had a program designated to the academic and personal/social support of this student population. When asked about overall retention and graduation rates, representatives admitted that the rates were poor (e.g. retention at one university was less than 50%). Relations between the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples remain somewhat constrained; however, leaders are working towards national reconciliation to better group relations and enhance the quality of life for Aboriginal peoples. Known as the “Traditional Welcome,” it is expected that higher education institutions officially acknowledge to campus visitors that the grounds on which the university is located must be attributed to its original Aboriginal owners.

The Australian higher education policies for federal support and student fees were very much in the forefront of national news during the group’s visit. Over the last ten years or so, the Australian government has dramatically reduced its funding of higher education institutions. In the past, education was basically free for those who were privileged to be accepted into one of the 32 Australian universities, but today most students must pay for most of their educational costs. Students can apply for a payment program which will allow them to defer the costs; however, following graduation, the student is required to pay back the government. An unusual twist to this arrangement is the student must make at least $32,000 (USD) to be required to make these payments.

Another fiercely divisive issue is the federal government’s plan to dissolve mandatory student fees for student unions. These fees are a major source for staffing, both professionals and student staff wages and organizational activities and services funding. Pegged by the government as “voluntary student unions,” staff at all of the universities visited expressed great anxiety about the significant implications the fee removal could have if the policy is adopted by the government. Many student union leaders and student services staff feared that programs and services would be dramatically reduced, if not disappear, due to lack of adequate funding.

Beyond the campus visits, hosted receptions and dinners, and formal group discussions the group participated in tours to various historic and scenic sites including beaches and mountains and a visit to Parliament to observe the House representatives’ Q&A session with the Prime Minister. Kangaroos hopping through the wild during the group’s sojourn from Sydney to Melbourne; and learning the “Aussie lingo” made the trip wondrous, exciting, and intellectually stimulating.

ACPA plans to continue sponsoring future student affairs study tours and will explore other international opportunities for its members including global internships and colloquia.