Presidential Address

Presidential Address

ACPA President Jeanne Steffes
2006 Annual Convention, Indianapolis, IN

Hello colleagues and friends.  I am very humbled to be able to serve you and our students again during the coming year as the ACPA President. It has been an honor and a privilege to have volunteered with so many of you on campus, and on several committees during the past 20 plus years.  For those of you I have not had the opportunity to work for, I look forward to working hard to make you proud of your connection to the student affairs profession and to maximize the value of your ACPA membership.

Some of you might ask yourself what reasons brought me back to the ACPA Presidency, there were actually four reasons that compelled me to serve again. 1), I knew the job and the time commitments having served last year, 2) I had the campus support needed to be successful, 3) Jill Carnaghi and Mike Segawa were going to be the 2007 Joint Meeting Chairs, and 4) Greg Roberts leads up the ACPA International office.   If you have not gotten the opportunity to work with these outstanding college student educators that I just mentioned, I invite you to seek out a chance to work with them- they are exceptional!

Before we look at the 2006-2007 Presidential Goals I first want to briefly highlight some of the things that have been accomplished since I last took the dais a year ago in Nashville.

1.    Passage of the ACPA Ethics Statement- Special thanks to Dr. Jane Fried, Julie Bell-Elkins and the committee for their tireless work on this document. The updated version will soon be on the ACPA website and we will be putting together a practitioner’s version- about 2-3 pages.  Committee please stand and be recognized!  I am also pleased to announce that Mr. Dean Kennedy and Ms. Penny Pasque have agreed to Co-Chair this important committee for the next two years. Thank you!

2.  Multicultural Competence Workshop – The Multicultural Competence Workshop format is completed. We are waiting for the final touches on a partnership that will bring Drs. Raechele Pope, Amy Reynolds, and John Mueller’s work together to critically think about and operationalize multicultural competencies in our daily roles as campus educators.

3. Learning Reconsidered 2 – LR2 , the joint project shepherded by ACPA, NASPA, and with partners ACUHO-I, ACUI, NACADA, NACA, and NIRSA that looks at all of our higher education resources to transform the academy has just been released. The book is now for sale on the ACPA website and you will also be able to download it from the ACPA website soon.

And now to future…

One of the themes that I will be referring to during my second tenure as President is captured by the phrase:  We Rise to Play a Greater Role. This title came from an article by Terry Calhoun and Anthony D. Cortese, they talked about sustainability in higher education of which I will get to in a minute.

When I think of how student affairs is being called upon by the academy, by the legislature, by parents, by employers, and by our students to not only help retain and graduate students, but to help shape their experiences in ethical, noteworthy, and notable ways. Think of the energies of our staffs in learning communities, leadership development, multiculturalism, civic engagement, and experiential learning. More than ever we are called upon to help students make meaningful decisions and reflect upon and explore their aspirations and inspirations.  I strongly believe that we are being called upon more and more and it is up to each one of us as college student educators to understand how and in what ways We Rise to Play a Greater Role!

Part of that greater role is carefully and reflectively thinking about others and the vulnerability of the other and what we do to enhance, engage and sustain the other- including our students, our communities and our limited resources. During the next year I will be looking at ways that ACPA can inform its members and the higher education community about sustainability.

What is sustainability?  Calhoun and Cortese ( suggest that “sustainability is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  As you might know 2005-2014 has been declared the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.  I have asked the co-chair of that global effort – Dr. Debra Rowe from Oakland Community College in Michigan to work with us on this national effort.

When we traditionally think of sustainability we think about the environment and that is only one component of the larger milieu.  Debra Rowe suggests that sustainability is working toward “healthy social systems, healthy ecosystems and a healthy economy.”  If you think about  our roles as college student educators we help build and foster ethical and just social systems, ecosystems that are connected to us and through us with civic engagement and we are and help sustain significant economic and intellectual engines around the nation and world.

It is time that we think about fulfilling our part in meaningful ways that can be translated into action whether it is resources where RAs can download bulletin board materials on Sustainable Education for their halls from the ACPA website or Career Service professionals working with local agencies to help retrain day laborers.

I have asked Ms. Kathleen Gardner, Director-Elect Core Council for Professional Issues and Dr. Boyd Yarbrough, Past-President of South Carolina CPA to help lead a national effort with Dr. Rowe’s assistance to see how ACPA can be a leader in Sustainability in Higher Education.
A group will be convening soon to set the agenda to strategize and outline what theoretical and practical contributions ACPA leaders and members can make to this important effort.

Governance Taskforce
I was in Washington DC for the ACPA Executive Committee meeting in February 2006. On a morning run I went into the Jefferson Memorial and on panel number four I found this quote which stated, “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.  We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy…”     Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1810

When I think about how our profession and how ACPA – College Student Educators International has changed since our disaffiliation with AACD-  friends and higher education compatriots… it is time to seek out and find a new coat.

Two years ago I brought forward the idea that we needed to take a look at our organizational structure. The ACPA Governance Task Force was charged to consider the re-organization and re-engineering of that structure, ultimately developing a proposed new structure for ACPA, based upon member needs, organizational and operational efficiencies, and the changing landscape of higher education and its constituent institutions.

This taskforce has gone to extensive and exhaustive lengths to be inclusive and transparent. To give you an example, during the past 15 months we met five times in person; conducted 25 conference call meetings; met with constituent groups and held open forums for general members at convention 2005; consulted with experts on organizational development, diversity, and legal issues, conducted 41 personal interviews with officers and leaders of the Association; conducted small group updates/received input at 2005 Summer Leadership Meeting; developed/presented a proposed model for ACPA Governance to the Executive Committee; had one-on-one conference calls to members of  Executive Council; and modified the draft proposal based on on-going feedback. (Sometimes daily!).

In the process of the data collection there were certain themes that emerged that served as touchstones to our work and served as a basis for a revised governance structure;

  • The status quo is not an option; almost everyone we interviewed recommended change in how ACPA is structured and functions;
  • We must reduce the complexity of the organization, so that its structure and functions are simpler and more understandable to both our members and external entities;
  • Form must follow function; ACPA’s structure must reflect and facilitate the work of the Association.  The values of the Association are one context for that work, and, therefore, one context for the structure;
  • We must separate governance, association effectiveness, and management functions from programmatic content and activities;
  • We must develop predictable and consistent mechanisms for individuals to get involved in the Association and have voice in its work;

And finally, we must consider the culture of ACPA (i.e., elements such as values, artifacts, and history that make ACPA unique and special) as separate from the organizational structure.  We must, however, develop an organizational structure that respects the culture.

It is my honor and privilege to introduce the members of the Governance Taskforce.  The chair is Dr. Patty Perillo, AVP from UMBC.  Other members of the task force are: (Please stand when I call your name and hold the applause.)  Greg Blimling, Mela Dutka,   Lee Hawthorne Calizo, Keith Humphrey, Stacey Pearson, Greg Roberts, Matt Soldner,   Chris Strong, Bridget Turner Kelly, Elizabeth Whitt, and Lynn Willett. Thank you all for the bottom of my heart for your tireless efforts on behalf of ACPA and the next century of college students affairs work!

I am excited to share with you the theme and the talented ACPA and NASPA leaders who will coordinate the 2007 joint meeting in Orlando, Florida.  The theme for the 2007 Meeting is Our Power and Responsibility to Shape Education. The chairs for the joint meeting are Mike Segawa from the University of Puget Sound and Jill Carnaghi from Washington University in St. Louis.

I stand before you today on the shoulders of many women and men who have previously lead the ACPA family and it’s diverse and engaged membership since May Cheney started the organization in 1924.  I’d like to honor those distinguished leaders of the past and the association’s leaders of our current and proud future. Thank you all for your service to ACPA, to each other and most importantly to your students, to our students.

In conclusion, when I think of what the organization has been through during the past few years I am very proud of the accomplishments and growth we have made together and the growth that we have initiated together. It reminded me of a poem, or parts of a poem that I would like to share with you by Dr. Maya Angelou.

[Excerpts from] Still I Rise (1978)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Thank you all for your service to ACPA, and helping ACPA rise. But most importantly helping our students rise. I hope that you will grow old with me in this profession and in this association. I am so proud to be a part of this profession and so proud to call you colleagues and close friends.

Thank you so much and we’ll see you in Orlando in 2007!


  • Angelou, M. (1978).  Still I rise.  In And still I rise (pp. 41-42). New York: Random House.

ACPA Thoughts – The Convention

Darren Pierre
University of Maryland

I remember vividly my first experience at ACPA’s annual convention last spring in Nashville. In a way, I see my, now two, convention experiences as markers on my time in graduate school. My first annual meeting came with the excitement of both attending my first national convention and coordinating a large scale trip with members of my Master’s cohort. This was a feat to say the least! This past year’s convention came with the similar excitement of the first, but this time it was nervous excitement with ideas fluttering in my mind that my future employer may be among the participants.

I arrived at Placement on Friday afternoon after touring parts of Indianapolis such as Founder’s Row which houses several national and international fraternity and sorority headquarters. The Placement volunteers were very friendly, which was no different than many of the other Association members I had had a chance to meet. Like many of my colleagues, I did the internal debate “should I or should I not go through Placement orientation?” I made the wise decision to take a tour of placement and found the chance to interact with other excited (and nervous) candidates rewarding. Each of us practiced our career counseling skills on one another which proved very beneficial in the interview process.

I enjoyed speaking with potential employers who hailed from New York to Washington. Hearing employers speak from a diverse set of institutions but sharing similar stories of the rewarding experience they have had with students was phenomenal. The days were long in the Placement, but it gave me a better understanding of what previous candidates referred to as the adventures in Placement.

When I first began setting up interviews for the conference, I made the deliberate decision to limit my interviews so I could enjoy the conference experience. I attended a great session on social justice in higher education. With the help of two colleagues in the field I was able to present a session at ACPA on navigating your way in the field of higher education. The room I presented in was full of new professionals like me sharing similar experiences about their first formative years in higher education.

When I attend ACPA, I don’t just enjoy it for the informative sessions and educational speakers, but also the chance to reconnect with others in the field. I have heard others speak about that the annual Convention as a place where long lasting friendships are built. I agree. I suppose one of the underlying benefits that should be part of ACPA’s mission is my belief that in the work the Association does, the organization actually creates a group of friends centered around the professional ideals of bettering the collegiate experience. Whether it was conversing with friends or strangers about job interviews, or having follow-up conversation over coffee about an intriguing speaker, the annual Convention has proven for two years now to be a rewarding experience. I look forward to sharing again at the 2007 Convention. See you in Orlando!

Ghana Experience – Study Abroad

Tamekka Cornelius
University of Louisville

Akwaaba!! Welcome! I had grown accustomed to hearing this greeting throughout my stay in the breathtaking country of Ghana, West Africa. After my first year as a College Student Personnel master’s student, this summer I trekked across the country with the University of Georgia’s School of Social Work and School of Education for a three and a half week study abroad experience with 12 other students representing four universities. In the months leading up to departure, I did not know what to expect. Plagued with ambiguous descriptions of Africa by co-workers, friends, and family, I found myself fielding comments such as “Isn’t that country at war?” or “What language do they speak over there?” and my favorite, “Watch out for the lions!” But, I did not embark on this trip on the notions of others. By studying abroad I was hoping to gain understanding of another country, its people and their practices.

The course in which I enrolled, Comparative Issues in Higher Education: Ghana, West Africa and the United States, provided several learning opportunities for me as a participant. The aim of this course was to allow students to gain insight into the educational system and culture of Ghana as related to student affairs. In doing so, we interacted and networked with Ghanaian students, faculty, and administrators at universities throughout Ghana, attended lectures and engaged in one-on-one conversations with student affairs professionals in which we discussed major issues in education, and conducted field observations at various sites.

One of the first universities that we visited, which proved to have the most significant impact on my professional development, was Ashesi University in Accra. Although Ashesi is only four years old, this small, private, liberal arts institution has a very impressive background and a promising future. During our first visit to Ashesi, we had the privilege of meeting with the president of the college, Mr. Patrick Gyimah Awuah. I was personally interested Mr. Awuah’s vision for the university and wanted to know about the mission and goals and how they coincided with the development of students and staff. Mr. Awuah, or Patrick as he did not mind being called, spoke of a leadership crisis that Ghana is facing. He explained leadership is “deemed fundamental in developing the society.” Ghana is experiencing a lack of leaders in economics, politics, and education. Therefore the goal for Ashesi University is simple: to develop an academically strong institution that will train a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within students the values of life-long learning, concern for others and the courage to think in a bold and enterprising way. This goal, coupled with a liberal arts teaching philosophy is making new waves in the higher educational system in Ghana.

These thoughts seem to resonate throughout the institution. Students and teachers alike are in tune with this mission and work in harmony with it. In our discussion with Ashesi students, we found that student development is alive and well on the campus. We met with students members of the student council, judicial board, and the student government association. Our discussion led me to draw upon several theories and themes within student affairs.

Identity formation and development of autonomy is evident among the behavior of students. Student leaders seemed very enthusiastic about involvement in extra-curricular activities and creating a balance between these activities and academics. Students were also very eager to share and exchange ideas with us. They shared with us a great concern that they faced academically. The students expressed that academic dishonesty is one of the biggest problems that they are dealing with on their campus. We shared some of the policies and practices that we have in place in the U.S. regarding this issue such as written academic dishonesty policies on syllabi, utilizing publication manuals, and discussing plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty in class. Collectively, we brainstormed several different ideas that could be implemented to curb this problem.

During our second visit to Ashesi, another student and I met with several student affairs administrators for an intimate one-on-one roundtable discussion. In this meeting I led a short dialogue on an aspect of student development that I feel is important for all college students and staff to consider. The discussion centered on the various student development outcomes, benefits, and challenges of studying abroad. At the time of this meeting, we had been in the country for almost three weeks, so I was able to put in perspective my own views of development and correlate those thoughts with real occurrences from Ghana. Some of the premises that I shared with the group in regards to student gains and benefits from studying abroad include: learning to appreciate differences by immersing in a foreign culture, studying abroad helps with issues of adjustment by learning to function and live in a new environment, identity formation and a sense of self is enhanced especially in regards to racial/ethnic identity, becoming independent and leaning towards interdependence and one is able to develop individual views on the world by physically being in another place. Finally, one’s appreciation for diverse cultures is expanded because one is actually in the location of the host country!

Moving further into the country we traveled to the city of Kumasi were we stayed on the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) campus, on to Cape Coast and the University of Cape Coast and back in Accra to the University of Ghana-Legon. Through discussion with administrators and students at these universities, I was not surprised to detect that some of the same challenges we face on campuses in the U.S. were also visible on their campuses. Issues such as alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and lack of student involvement on campus were all matters that call attention to student affairs professionals worldwide.

I was especially impressed by the incredible allegiance that the Ghanaians have in regards to the well being of their country. Not wanting to fall susceptible to the “brain drain,” faculty members encourage students to obtain their degrees in Ghana and to launch their professional careers in the country as well. This cycle carries on the idea of producing more leaders in the country.

In the midst of these educational experiences, I witnessed a fantastic showcase of Ghana’s cultural and social landscape. While on a safari at Mole National Park I walked alongside elephants, monkeys, and warthogs. I met some vibrant children while painting a mural in Kumasi at the Kumasi Children’s Home. Browsing around in the W.E.B. Dubois Museum gave me a first hand look at some of this great scholar’s original manuscripts. A visit to the slave castles of Cape Coast proved to be one of the most emotional experiences I had while watching fishermen from the beach cascade out into the Atlantic Ocean allowed for a refreshing change of scenery. Taking a walk on the Kakum canopy walkway was one of the most terrifying, yet exciting, events of the trip. Imagine being suspended hundreds of feet in the air, your only option being to walk one foot in front of the other on a wobbly narrow wooden plank that is held up by netting on either side; that was the canopy walk! Mix all of this in with random shopping trips to astonishing markets, dining on delicious fresh fish, tasty rice, and flavorsome ice cream and this added up to one remarkable voyage!

In the world of student affairs, it is imperative that professionals step outside of their familiarities in anticipation of the rainbow of students that they will inevitably encounter and serve. Beyond enjoying the dynamics of another country, traveling abroad will inevitably aid in personal growth and development. Employers will see the ambition and determination expressed by these efforts which will be an asset to one’s career. I must mention the new friends one may meet while abroad, both international and from the United States. I keep in touch with the alumni of the trip, and I anticipate that the bond we created while thousands of miles from home will sustain a long-standing relationship. The impact and influence of a study abroad experience will greatly enhance any student’s personal, professional, and educational experience!
This picture was taken at Ashesi University. From left to right on bottom row: Dr. Jeanette Barker, UGA professor; Ashesi school psychologist & professor; Adzo Amegayibor, Dean of Student and Community Affairs at Ashesi; and the Ashesi school nurse. Top row from left to right: Su Bartlett, UGA study abroad participant; and Tamekka Cornelius, UofL study abroad participant.

Ghana Experience – ACPA Cultural Study Experience

Angela Simmons
Millersville University (PA)

I want to go to Ghana! Those simple words were more wishful thinking than an actual hope or dream. I could not even imagine how I would pay for such a trip. Long gone were the days of using my extra student loan money to take fun vacations. Besides, people like me did not take professional development trips to far away places. I attended national conferences, but that was the extent of my jet-setting. I knew attending the ACPA Cultural Study Tour to Ghana was beyond my reach. I would have to continue dreaming of Africa and hope that in 30 years my retirement nest egg would make my dreams come true. I never thought my university would fund the trip. I asked half jokingly, but with my fingers tightly crossed. Even after my return I was shocked and amazed, but most of all incredibly grateful, that I was given such an amazing opportunity.

On June 5, 2006 our journey began. I joined 12 other university professionals at Dulles International Airport and set out on what has become the most incredible journey of my life. I was excited about the diverse background of the group. There were master’s and doctoral students, faculty, and senior level student affairs administrators from varying racial and ethnic backgrounds. Once we arrived in Ghana we hit the ground running. Our days were packed with lectures and visits to cultural and historical sites. We learned about Ghanaian cultural, took dance lessons from the students at The University of Ghana, and we laughed. Not surprisingly, we shopped, a lot. Some of us single-handedly boosted the Ghanaian economy! There were days when I thought I would explode if I learned one more thing, bartered for one more gift, or ate one more plantain. At the end of those days the only thing I could say was, “But we’re in Africa.” It became my mantra for two weeks, but there were times when I was emotionally and physically overwhelmed.

I am sure everyone on the trip had their own thoughts about what was personally most meaningful to them. One cannot walk away from cultural immersion without having a favorite experience. I am sure for some it was learning about the history, for others it may have been visiting a game reserve and getting up close and personal with elephants, and for some others it was most likely interacting with the people. For me it was the visits to sites along the slave route. When we went to those places and stood in the very spot our ancestors stood, I could not control my emotions. I cried not only because of man’s inhumanity to man, but because I knew something had been taken from me. I, and others like me, had been stripped of our ability to connect with our history. The ACPA Cultural Study Tour to Ghana presented me with the ability to reconnect, and for that I am grateful.

People often say things are “life changing.” I never fully understood the true meaning of those words until I returned from Ghana. The ACPA Cultural Study Tour to Ghana was truly a life changing event for me. At first I thought I was sick from the travel. I tried to get back into my normal routine. I uploaded pictures, handed out presents, and said all the right things. “Yes, I had a wonderful time. Yes, the jetlag is horrible. Yes, that’s me sitting on a crocodile.” Getting back into my routine, however, was much more difficult than I imagined. I slept a restless sleep. When I was alone I looked at the pictures and cried. I stopped talking about my trip. I would not watch any television program that involved skinny models or housewives. No matter their desperation I was not interested in the stories they wanted to tell. I wanted things to be simple again. My life had changed, and I was angry.

Before I left for Ghana I started a travel blog as a way to share my experiences with friends. They are wonderful and love and support me in a way I never thought possible; I could not imagine the journey without them. At first the blogs were a way to share information, but by the time I wrote the second one it was becoming a way to help balance the anger with a desire to create change. In my second blog I wrote:
I’ve been pretty yuck about being back in the real world. It started last week. I thought it was coming back home, being sick…I’ve had a fever for several days (I finally started taking an antibiotic for the friends living in my stomach), and just the letdown of regular life. But it’s more than that. I’m restless. I want everyone to go where I’ve been, and see what I’ve seen. There is a quote by Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I want to use less and do more, and stop complaining if I’m not going to do something about it.

That was the beginning of my full-circle moment. I am moving towards the place I have always hoped I would be. I have always believed in the importance of social justice and social change based on personal responsibility. As members of society I believe it is our responsibility to care for one another. Believing something and feeling something, however, are two different things. At this moment, when I am more angry and annoyed than I have ever been, I am able to feel the sheer power that individual responsibly can have on effecting positive change. In a time of war and shrinking ethics, that’s what gives me hope. It is what pushes me forward. It is also the hope that I have for the students with whom I work. I hope that they go, and do, and see for themselves. I hope they come back after having a “life changing” experience with a desire to make a difference; whether they have been halfway around the world, down to the local food bank, or across the hall to talk with their “different” neighbor.

We have an amazing opportunity to help students see their place in the world. Of course we know this, or we would not do what we do every day for incredibly long hours. I am guilty of getting wrapped up in the administrative tasks. I sometimes forget that students are just trying to find their way and have their voices heard. I am sure I have missed countless opportunities to help students get one step closer to their full-circle moment. Thankfully I know I will be presented with those same opportunities time and again. In the future I will encourage students to stop vegetating in their one corner. More importantly, when they come back, whether they are angry and annoyed or happy and enthusiastic, I will challenge them to make positive changes in the world around them. To do anything less would be a waste of my “life changing” experience, and to expect anything less from students would be a waste of their time and talent.

We are All at Risk of Suicide

Jane Fried
Associate Professor
Central Connecticut State University

Institutional responses and responsibilities to students who are potentially suicidal have been widely discussed recently. Institutions seem caught in a web of ambiguous conflicts. Do we have a duty to prevent suicide attempts? If there is such a duty legally or ethically, what evidence constitutes a credible basis for action? What kind of action is warranted? When we admit a student, we have a duty to support that student academically. However, academic support may involve a range of emotional supports that allow that student to persist with full access to his or her academic skills and abilities. We know that cognition, emotion and behavior are highly integrated so that separating one from the other is almost impossible. In cases where students experience either acute or chronic psychological distress, the availability of emotional support and/or medication may be the determining factor in a student’s ability to succeed academically. Approaches to helping at-risk students should acknowledge this integration and focus on student success wherever possible. Keeping students in school with appropriate support may be the most beneficial thing we can do for them.

Institutional responses to students at risk should be shaped by policy that takes into account the welfare of individual students, the campus environment in which those students study and live and the nature and mission of the institution. According to legal expert Dr. Gary Pavela only institutions with custodial missions, such as prisons and mental hospitals, are legally responsible for preventing suicide. The mission statements of colleges and universities typically address at least two elements that are pertinent to this conversation: student learning and student character development. From an ethical perspective, institutions should consider how they can help all students learn, including students at risk, and how they can create conditions in which those students are least likely to hurt themselves or others as they continue learning. According to Pavela, institutions should be “working harder to keep students at risk of suicide enrolled, working with them, giving them the help they need and not finding faster, more creative ways to remove them” (Hoover, 2006, A39).

The ACPA Statement of Ethical Principles is designed to give guidance to individual members of the association as they carry out their professional responsibilities. Members are expected to act with benevolence and prudence toward students and colleagues and to honor the principles of autonomy, justice, fidelity, not harming anyone (non-malificence) and helping (beneficence) wherever possible. Although the ACPA statement does not address matters of institutional policy directly, when individual members are involved in policy-making, we are expected to support the principles identified in the code. If we are asked to review policy as it is being written, we should keep these principles in mind as we consider the consequences of new policies. Although risk management is a significant concern to institutions, ethically it should be balanced with institutional fidelity to students and mission- keeping promises to help students learn and develop the skills and perspectives often cited: effective, engaged, multiculturally competent citizenship, critical thinking, and effective life management, decision making and communication skills.

Student conduct codes function as contracts between students and their institution. These codes typically state what kinds of behavior are impermissible and may also state, in more general terms, what kinds of behavior are desirable. Many codes contain language that proscribes behavior that “endangers self or others”. Student comments indicating suicidal ideation or intention such as remarks made to friends, to staff members or in written assignments constitute verbal threats and should be taken very seriously. Campuses typically employ or have access to professionals who are trained to assess suicide risk and to make judgments within their own scope of professional training about degree of risk and protective steps to be taken, if any. Students who act out by cutting, carrying weapons, or engaging in any other visible self-destructive behavior, are generally violating some element of the institutional conduct code and can be confronted through formal charges or informal conversations through the campus judicial process. This approach honors fidelity, keeping institutional promises to due process, as well as autonomy; permitting a student to speak with a professional staff member about personal behavior, choices and consequences. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may also protect some at-risk students because of psychiatric diagnoses. The principle of justice comes into play for these students because the ADA requires a specific and lengthy inquiry to determine whether or not the institution is meeting the needs of these students. Institutions may incur greater liability by violating ADA protections than they do by keeping students enrolled. The key exception to this approach is the presence of a demonstrable and immanent risk to self or others.

We live in a high stress era. Some stress is personal, such as the cost of college tuition, struggles with identity, with peer relationships or with the baggage from dysfunctional families and abuse. Global stress such as fears of economic instability and terrorism is also a factor. The body, mind, spirit of a human being does not distinguish among the various sources of stress. The physiological reaction to stress is integrated and whole. One of the signs of extreme stress is despair or hopelessness. Among those of us who are aware of the many issues burdening our students and ourselves, despair seems like an understandable, if painful response. We can certainly understand how students, particularly those in the 18-24 year old group, might think of suicide as the way out. We know that extreme, prolonged stress impairs cognition and decision-making. Mood disorders and some of the medications that are used to control them may also impair cognitive function. Chronic substance abuse, begun in early adolescence, can impair cognitive function as well. All of this evidence points to the need for the demonstration of the professional virtues in our relationships with students and colleagues: prudence, integrity, respectfulness and benevolence. ACPA members who suspect that students are considering suicide should treat those students with respect and benevolence, or good will, rather than suspicion. We are obligated to behave with prudence, thoughtfully and carefully, to consult with supervisors or mental health staff about appropriate interventions and to document our efforts as we design effective interventions. Integrity, the fourth virtue cited in our code, requires that we act in accord with our professional values and maintain consistency in our behavior in such serious situations. Integrity requires that, even in the face of a major concern about student welfare, we demonstrate the other three virtues consistently.

Beyond the demands of an immediate situation, ACPA members also have a responsibility to consider the context of students’ lives and their hopes for the future. In Big Questions, Worthy Dreams (2000) Parks writes about “mentoring young adults in their search for meaning, purpose and faith” (subtitle). Creating mentoring communities is Parks’ way of describing the work we can do with students who are wondering what their lives will be like, what they may hope for or whether hope remains alive in their world. It is possible that the greatest anguish involved in thoughts of suicide is the belief that a person is alone in the world, ashamed of his or her despair and unable to break out of the isolation or search for connections with others. Many campuses are currently engaged in discussions of student spirituality which is one approach to helping students think through questions about life’s meanings. The student affairs profession has long been involved in helping students think about questions of meaning and purpose in life, regardless of whether we proceed from secular or faith based perspectives. The most important thing we can do with and for students, regardless of their “at-risk” status, is to help them think about what they value, what they hope for and how they can develop meaningful relationships in their lives now and in the future. Thinking about the unthinkable is less frightening in the presence of others who care about us. Knowing that others have considered the same thoughts about purpose, meaning and despair can be very reassuring to students who think that giving up is an acceptable option.

In this era of virtual reality, many of our students have failed to develop the relationship skills that are essential to creating satisfying and happy lives. If we can model benevolent, respectful behavior in our work with students, we will be planting the seeds of the mentoring community. If we, as survivors of adolescence, can help students think and talk about issues that we have learned to manage as adults, we will be planting additional seeds for the development of courage and confidence. Because we, as a profession, have adopted the ethical principles of doing no harm, helping where possible and supporting autonomy, we are in some sense obligated to raise the big questions and help our students develop worthy dreams of their own. Through the creation and structuring of dialogues within student peers and among students, faculty and staff, we are in an ideal position to legitimize conversations about significant issues and develop mentoring communities. Individual students who are in crisis and “at risk” of suicide are powerful magnets for staff attention, but all students deserve the opportunity to consider the significant questions of their own lives. Many of them will benefit from having these discussions in a campus context. In some sense we are all at risk for suicide. We have all experienced despair. We all need opportunities to express our darkest thoughts, be received by people who care about us and affirm our possibilities for living worthwhile lives.


  • Hoover, E. (2006 May 19) Giving them the help they need. The Chronicle of Higher Education. LII,37.  A39-41.
  • Parks, S. (2000). Big questions, worthy dreams. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Pavela, G. (2006, July 14). Personal conversation.

Student Academic Freedom: Politicizing the Classroom

Robert M. Hendrickson
Professor of Education and Associate Dean
The Pennsylvania State University

As the 2004 Presidential campaign developed, concerns began to emerge regarding student academic freedom in the classroom. Conservatives alleged that the higher education professoriate continues to be predominately liberal and this liberal bias taints their teaching. They maintain that students feel intimidated to express their political beliefs either in the classroom or on campus for fear they will be punished through the grading system. This focus on liberal bias has propelled student academic freedom into the political agenda of many activists, and has led to new organizations and some state legislatures attempts to rectify the problem. While I am not aware of any litigation being brought surrounding this issue, as the 2006 congressional election campaign heats up there certainly is potential for campus controversy (and possible litigation) over faculty classroom behavior. Even though this issue stems from the academic side of the institution, student affairs administrators need to understand the implications of this issue as they often must deal with student complaints and other forms of activism (e.g., protests, walk-outs, and websites).

The fundamental principle of academic freedom is that the community of scholars must be free to employ scholarly standards, without prior restraint or fear of repercussion, to make decisions about the quality of scholarship and teaching. “The ideal of academic freedom includes the assumption that [people] working on the fringes of established knowledge will often dissent from the truths of the majority, will appear unreasonable, eccentric, or disloyal, or will be unable to explain to others their motives for pursuing a particular line of effort” (Caplow & McGee, 1958, p. 222). Faculty members and students, although they are not directly included under the tenets of academic freedom as set forth by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), should be free from political, ideological, or religious constraints in the pursuit of truth in their academic studies.

Academic freedom as defined in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, holds three basic tenets of academic freedom are:

  1. “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of results subject to adequate performance of their academic duties, …”;
  2. “Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should not introduce into their teaching controversial subject matter which has no relationship to their subject.”;
  3. “College and university teachers are citizens, members of the learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline.”

The third tenet also states that faculty members need to be accurate in their statements and identify their faculty title when they are speaking in their field of expertise. When speaking as a citizen on matters outside their field they should not use their faculty title, as that would imply that they are speaking as an expert rather than just as a citizen. The second tenet assumes that teaching will follow the “principle of neutrality” where a diversity of perspectives are present, so the student can make a judgment on the issue and there is no attempt by the faculty member to indoctrinate students. The current classroom controversy has developed debate about the neutrality and non-indoctrination principles. Some conservative activists and legislators have claimed that professors with a liberal bias dominate the college and university faculty (based on some recent surveys, it is true that a majority of faculty claim to be liberal/democrats), and that bias is clearly reflected in the classes they teach and the performance grades they award. The following are a few examples of how the controversy is manifested:

Under the directive of David Horowitz and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, several state legislatures have considered an academic bill of rights. The American Association of University Professors on March 4, 2003, posted an article on their website discussing the movement in Colorado calling for an Academic Bill of Rights entitled: Academic Bill of Rights. Advocates for an Academic Bill of Rights recommended that in order to maintain the AAUP principle of neutrality, higher education institutions need to develop faculty hiring policies “with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives”. Since diversity is interpreted by the advocates as an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, or conservatives and liberals, the ultimate effect of such a statement would be to politicize faculty appointments in the academy. The AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, after careful analysis, found that one of the fundamental concepts of academic freedom is violated when decisions on who to appoint, and the quality of scholarship and teaching, are not based on professional standards within the discipline assessed by the community of scholars. They concluded that the Academic Bill of Rights “impose administrative and legislative oversight on the professional judgment of faculty, to deprive professors of the authority necessary for teaching,” and prohibit decisions necessary to advance knowledge (p. 3).

On March 2, 2004 the AAUP issued another article concerning advertisements appearing in campus newspapers about an organization, ” Students for Academic Freedom.”. The advertisement solicits students to report professors who try to sway the class to adopt the political stand of the faculty member. The AAUP has a history of discouraging faculty from bringing controversial matters with no relationship to the particular topic area of the course to the classroom. If a problem like this were to arise, the expectation is that the performance reviews would address this problem. However, Students for Academic Freedom attempts to prevent political controversy in the classroom where such political statements are not germane to the topic of the course. More specifically, they are attempting to keep faculty comments about the war in Iraq and George W. Bush out of classrooms where course content has nothing to do with “this war or this presidency.”  The AAUP statement contends that “[c]ontrary to defending academic freedom, the project is inimical to it and, indeed, to the very idea of a liberal education”.

In 2005 the Pennsylvania legislature passed a resolution to establish a committee of legislators to investigate the political bias of professors, as it is manifested in the classroom at public colleges and universities in the state. The committee traveled around the state holding hearings on various campuses to determine the extent of indoctrination of students by faculty in the courses they taught. At the final hearing in June 2006, Dr. Peter Garland stated that, in the past five years, only 14 complaints have been filed from the 107,000 students at 14 state universities belonging to the State System of Higher Education. (Chronicle of Higher Education, Today’s News 6/1/2006). Dr. Blannie Bowen reported that only 13 complaints have emerged over the past 5 years from the 80,000 students of the multi-campus Pennsylvania State University. He noted that the University Faculty Senate has clarified the policy called “Resolution of Student Classroom Problems” to provide students with a process to adjudicate complaints surrounding violations of academic freedom and grading. (Chronicle, Today’s News 6/1/2006). The legislative committee concluded there was minimal classroom controversy and, on the rare occasions that a complaint had been filed, that institution had adequate policies to resolve those concerns.

As the election campaign of 2006 gets into full swing, it would be wise to review the institution’s policies on student classroom controversy (see AAUP Policy on Students Rights and Freedoms) making sure that faculty are able to adequately defend themselves against false accusations, and students are adequately protected from retaliation. If such policies are nonexistent, or inadequate, the academic governance organization of the institution should be encouraged to develop or refine the policy. With a better understanding of the issues surrounding academic freedom rights of students and faculty, student affairs administrators can assist the faculty in the development of policies that provide students with a venue to resolve complaints. Student affairs administrators need to:

  • Be familiar with the institution’s policies on student classroom controversies; and
  • Know the resources for a student to initiate a formal complaint.

Ultimately, the responsibility for developing and maintaining student classroom policies lies with the faculty, with the goal of preventing the politicizing of the institution and its academic programs.


  • Caplow, T., & McGee, R. (1958). The academic marketplace. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.

ACPA Awards – Call for Nominations

T. Todd Masman
ACPA Awards Chair
Bemidji State University

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 2006 convention in Indianapolis, over 190 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. As we prepare ourselves for the Joint Meeting in April 2007 with our colleagues in NASPA, we will continue honoring members of ACPA through our awards reception and luncheon.

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 Membership section of

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!

Nomination Process

You may nominate yourself or another individual. To nominate someone, send a nomination letter including the nominee’s telephone number, and email address to the coordinator listed for each award. 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.


Contribution to Higher Education Award
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 1, 2006. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Contribution to Knowledge Award
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 1, 2006. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Esther Lloyd Jones Professional Service Award
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 1, 2006. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

ACPA Excellence in Practice Award
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 1, 2006. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Lifetime Achievement Award
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 1, 2006. Please contact John Mueller at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Voice of Inclusion Medallion
(Two awards: Individual and Exemplary Programs)
This award recognizes 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. Deadline: November 1, 2006. Please contact Vernon A. Wall at [email protected] for additional information or to submit a nomination.

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.

Annuit Coeptis
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 1, 2006. Please contact Delight Champagne at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Senior Student Affairs Practitioner Program
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 1, 2006. Please contact Christine Strong at [email protected] for more information regarding the nomination process.

Senior Scholars Program
Implemented in 1984, the ACPA Senior Scholars Program provides scholars with a continuing opportunity to share their scholarship through the presentation of programs of their own choosing at each national convention and to serve the association on projects related to their fields 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, 2006. Please contact Dr. Bill McDonald at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Emerging Scholars Program
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. Letters of nomination should be sent by November 1, 2006 to the Senior Scholars in care of Bill McDonald at [email protected] ; letters should address the nominee’s research experience and potential to benefit from participation in the Emerging Scholars program.

Association-Wide Commission Awards
Commission Awards for Excellence are given in the following areas: Member Service, Strategic Partnerships, Programming, Publications, and Research & Scholarship. In addition, the Overall Distinguished Accomplishment Award is granted to the Commission that demonstrates, through its breadth of achievements, outstanding contributions toward meeting one or more of the strategic planning goals of the Association. Deadline: November 1, 2006. Contact Katie Sermersheim at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Association-Wide State and International Division Awards
These awards include: Outstanding State & International Division Award; Outstanding State & International Division Leader Award; and Outstanding State & International Division Award for Innovation. Deadline: November 30, 2006. Please contact Ann Groves Lloyd at [email protected] for more information or to submit a nomination.

Outstanding State and International Division
The Outstanding State and International Division Award recognizes outstanding state or international division activities including conferences, publications and professional efforts.
Outstanding State and International Division Leader 
The Outstanding State and International Division Leader Award recognizes a leader from a state or international college personnel association who has made significant contributions to his/her respective association.
Outstanding State and International Division for Innovation
The Outstanding State and International Division Award for Innovation recognizes an innovative program or service sponsored by a state or international division during the past full association year.

If you have any questions about the awards information or this year’s awards program, please contact ACPA Awards Chair T. Todd Masman, at [email protected] or 218.755.3760.

Sustainability – President’s Challenge

Julie R. White
State University of New York – ESF

In her March 20, 2006 address, ACPA President Jeanne Steffes challenged Student Affairs professionals to “rise to play a greater role”. In doing so, she suggested that, as a profession, we continue our good work – helping to prepare students to be ethical, judicious, and participatory citizens – though through the more progressive and intention lens of sustainability. At the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, sustainability has long been our mission. And, in the last few years, it has been the active commitment of our students to sustainability that has shaped many of our efforts in student affairs.

ESF was founded in 1911 and looked to serve the broad needs of environmental professionalism. As other forestry schools became more specialized, ESF expanded its scope to include such essentials of environmental science as design, engineering, life sciences and resource management. The college is a doctoral-granting institution, one of only 13 in the 64-campus SUNY system, with highly focused research and service programs that reach across the globe in the search for new knowledge and a mission to improve the quality of life. About 2,000 students are enrolled at the college, the vast majority of whom are from New York.

In April 2001, the ESF college community engaged in a strategic planning process aimed at renewing shared values, building on current strengths, and positioning ESF competitively to embrace the challenges and opportunities the future will bring. The college’s history of exploring and responding to society’s needs and environmental issues has prepared ESF to pursue many new initiatives. Students have been part of this “Vision 2020” process since its inception.

Vision 2020 calls for, among other things, enriched academic excellence, an outstanding student experience, and responding to the needs of society. The triangulation of these agendas focuses on renewable energy and materials, sustainable systems and communities, and conservation. These objectives are being actualized through initiatives such as a pervasive service-learning curriculum, the desire for a “green” student center, increased experiential learning opportunities for students and community outreach.

Our students live ESF’s mission and we in student affairs are now answering the call in more intentional and direct ways. For example, we have built service-learning into our first year experience program. Students are introduced to our commitment to service the first weekend they are on campus. Partnering with the department of Parks and Recreation, our entire first year class engages in service projects throughout the city of Syracuse. While the actual value of the work is immeasurable, more important perhaps is the introduction the students get to the larger community and the sense that they have some responsibility to it. This commitment to service is further solidified during the first year via our “Students In Action” learning community. Students take coordinated sections of a writing course and participate in at least three community service projects throughout the fall semester. We have found that this immediate introduction to ESF’s “culture of service” has an impressive ripple effect as students continue in their academic career here. In addition to our efforts in the first year, we work hand-in-hand with our faculty to offer service-learning courses. To date, more than 60 of our 300 undergraduate courses have incorporated service and our local community and students are mutual benefactors of that effort. In 2005-2006 our students contributed over 63,000 of service to our local community through service-learning courses and community service activities. This translates into over 30 hours of service per student! What we have found (and capitalized on) is that students like to make a difference while learning about their passions. In our case, that’s making the world a better place! We continue to enhance these efforts by presenting an annual “President’s Award” that recognizes the contributions of one individual student, one student organization, and one faculty member who incorporates service into their curriculum.

Three years ago, students challenged the institution to better “practice what we teach.” The “Green Campus Initiative” was born from that challenge and other programmatic efforts. Students have provided motivation for the entire college community to make some significant impacts. With our President as the quintessential partner, the Green Campus Initiative has inspired the installation of a fuel cell on our campus, a green roof on one of our academic buildings, no mow zones in our landscape, and a fleet of hybrid vehicles. The Class of 2004 demonstrated their social responsibility in a very practical and symbolic way. Their class gift to the College was the retirement of 4,800 air pollution credits via the Acid Rain Retirement Fund. Additionally, at the request of our students, each year the career services office sponsors an environmental career fair which promotes “green” career opportunities and organizations.

Whether it be the students involved in the Green Campus Initiative or those who have traveled to Dominica with our chapter of Engineers Without Borders, the simple truth is that students want to and will make a difference if we give them the opportunity and freedom to do so. This is an extremely socially conscious student population and our best lessons will be taught through their awareness and dedication.

How better to facilitate and build community than to help beautify one? How better to introduce students to and groom the concepts of citizenship than to give students the opportunity to partner with community organizations to make a difference? How better to teach the tenets of interdependence than to introduce students to the connectedness of all parts of the environment? How better to help students understand themselves than to actively and intentionally challenge them to consider others?

ESF’s commitment to sustainability is inherent in what we do. However, ESF’s active engagement is top-down, bottom-up, and comes into focus from every direction! What has made our efforts in sustainability successful? Commitment, partnerships, and educational value. Students work with physical plant personnel to identify and implement “green” practices on our campus. Our president challenges our faculty and students to contribute more and more to the local community. ESF faculty have seen the benefits of service learning and continue to employ it. Our students work with each other and our student affairs staff to facilitate programs that promote sustainable practices and education.

At ESF, the student affairs staff indeed works to foster ethical and just social systems and healthy ecosystems. We approach this agenda in the exact same ways student affairs professionals have always worked to meet needs – by involving students, meeting them where they are and challenging them to go a step further. This is actualized by tapping into their passion, working with other campus constituents, and actively engaging community partners.

Here is a list of replicable programs/efforts that other campuses may consider:

  • Campus Day of Community Service: We do this once each semester and invite all members of the campus community to engage in service at multiple sites throughout the city.
  • Learning Community Focus: We’ve linked service to a writing course for one of our residential communities.
  • Student Organizations: We work with a number of student organizations whose mission is sustainability: Habitat for Humanity, Green Campus Initiative, Outing Club (trail maintenance). We help to publicize the activity of these groups and involve them in our campus-wide efforts.
  • Service Learning Courses: We work with faculty to coordinate the service components of their courses. This may involve working directly with agencies and/or the logistics of the actual project.
  • Student Involvement in Campus Dialogues: We are ever-conscious of our role to involve students at every level of decision-making. Students are members of campus committees and are often consulted and looked to for input relative to campus action and/or programming efforts (e.g. Green Campus Initiative).


Thank You

ACPA proudly recognizes and thanks members of the Governance Taskforce for their service and leadership to the Association.

  • Patty Perillo, Task Force Chair; Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Greg Blimling, ACPA Past President; Vice-President for Student Affairs, Rutgers University
  • Mela Dutka, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Washington College
  • Lee Hawthorne Calizo, Associate Director of Student Life, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Keith Humphrey, Past Chair, Standing Committee for LGBTA (Standing Committee Representative); Interim Assistant Dean of Students, University of Arizona
  • Stacey Pearson, Past Director, Commission for Counseling and Psychological Services; Psychologist, University of Michigan
  • Greg Roberts, Executive Director and Senior Operating Officer, ACPA
  • Matt Soldner, Doctoral Student at the University of Maryland
  • Jeanne Steffes, President, ACPA; Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Syracuse University
  • Chris Strong, Representative, State/International Divisions; Chair, Senior Student Affairs Practitioner Program; Vice President for Student Affairs, SUNY Potsdam
  • Bridget Turner Kelly, Assistant Professor, Seattle University
  • Elizabeth Whitt, Chair, Senior Scholars (Senior Scholars Representative); Professor, University of Iowa
  • Lynn Willett, Past President, ACPA; Vice President for Student Affairs, Coastal Carolina University

From the Editor

From the Editor

Fall has arrived! We continue to spotlight our graduate student voice series with personal stories from Master’s students Darren Pierre and Tamekka Cornelius. Darren shares his voice about his first ACPA Convention. Tamekka traveled to Ghana over the summer and shares some of her personal experiences and reflections from the trip. We complement Tamekka’s piece with Angela Simmons’ experiences on ACPA’s Cultural Study tour to Ghana.

In addition to these articles Jane Fried examines student suicide in her ethics column and Robert Hendrickson addresses student academic freedom in his legal issues article.

President Jeanne Steffes provides updates on the work of the Association and specifically speaks to the next phase of our re-organization. Julie White writes about the work her campus is doing on sustainability issues a topic emphasized by Jeanne Steffes in her Presidential address. Executive Director Greg Roberts has changed his column slightly with this issue. In the future, he will be addressing one or two hot topics in higher education in depth. He will be talking about how these topics may affect higher education and student affairs. With this issue he is also offering “conversation” with him as a way for members to discuss first-hand what he works on daily. I hope you will be able to join him for this first online discussion.

From One Dupont Circle: Quarterly Update

Gregory Roberts
ACPA Executive Director

Greetings from One Dupont Circle!

I trust each of you had a productive summer in preparation for the new academic year. It is difficult to believe the heat of the summer of 2006 is concluding and the challenges of new beginnings and new opportunities await us.

With this issue of Developments, I want to focus my comments more on current events from the political scene of Washington, DC. Currently the results of a year’s work from the Commission on Higher Education, appointed by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is about to be released to the public. As of this writing I have had the opportunity to review the third draft of the report and would like to share a few highlights of the report.

“Our year long examination of the challenges facing higher education has brought us to the uneasy conclusion that the sectors past attainments have led our nation to unwarranted complacency about its future.”

This is one of the opening sentences from the draft report that is critical of the “complacency” of American higher education. As college student educators many of us already know the demographics of our traditional college age students are changing rapidly. The demands and needs of our older and working student population also continue to change. We can no longer conduct business as we have in years past. Technology alone will not permit this current kind of complacency. Cultural arrogance on behalf of a nation admired for educational attainment is at the threshold of mediocrity.

As college student educators, our time has come and we must be ready and willing to step up to the plate and bring our quality alternative and complimentary learning approaches to the table. The world is in need of globally educated citizens and we are capable of preparing global leaders to rise to the occasion. A holistic education is a key component and guess who brings a significant portion of that learning to be actualized … YOU — College Student Educators!

At this time the Commission presents six draft recommendations:*

  1. Every student in the nation should have the opportunity to pursue postsecondary education. We recommend, therefore, that the U.S. commit to an unprecedented effort to expand higher education access and success by improving student preparation and persistence, addressing non-academic barriers and providing significant increases in aid to low-income students.
  2. To address the escalating cost of a college education and the fiscal realities affecting government’s ability to finance higher education in the long run, we recommend that the entire student financial aid system be restructured and new incentives put in place to improve the measurement and management of costs and institutional productivity.
    1. Public providers of student financial aid should commit meeting the needs of students from low-income families.
    2. Policymakers and higher education leaders should develop, at the institutional level, new and innovative means to control costs, improve productivity, and increase the supply of higher education.
  3. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance. We urge the creation of a robust culture of accountability and transparency throughout higher education. Every one of our goals, from improving access and affordability to enhancing quality and innovation, will be more easily achieved if higher education embraces and implements serious accountability measures.
  4. With too few exceptions, higher education has yet to address the fundamental issues of how academic programs and institutions must be transformed to serve the changing needs of a knowledge economy. We recommend that America’s colleges and universities embrace a culture of continuous innovation and quality improvements by developing new [pedagogies, curricula, and technologies to improve learning, particularly in the area of science and mathematical literacy.
  5. America must ensure that our citizens have access to high quality and affordable educational, learning, and training opportunities throughout their lives. We recommend the development of a national strategy for lifelong learning that helps all citizens understand the importance of preparing for and participating in higher education throughout their lives.
  6. The United States must ensure the capacity of its universities to achieve global leadership in key strategic areas such as science, engineering, medicine, and other knowledge-intensive professions. We recommend increased federal investment in areas critical to our nation’s global competitiveness and a renewed commitment to attract the best and brightest minds from across the nation and around the world to lead the next wave of American innovation.

As you can see these initial draft recommendations have far reaching implications for higher education. Regardless of the outcome of the adoption of these recommendations, the political climate will continue to focus around the “three A’s” – Access, Affordability, and Accountability in American higher education. I look forward to the final report and our opportunity to discuss your view and reactions to these proposed changes in our profession.

The final report is expected to be released in September. At that time I would like to hold an “On-line Chat.” On Wednesday, September 28, 2006 from noon – 1:30 pm EST, I will be available to take your calls and discuss with you the potential opportunities this report presents for college student educators. Although the final report is yet to be released, I feel a discussion of the draft document and its implications for higher education pose many questions. There will be an e-lert the week prior to the “On-line Chat” to explain how to participate. A link to the final report, once it is released, will also be provided in a future e-lert.

Other activities of note is an important piece of legislation that is co-sponsored by Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Act of 2006 (S.3744). This legislation is designed to increase the number of college and university students studying overseas to one million per year (currently, fewer than 200,000 students per year participate). The bill seeks to increase the numbers of minority, low-income and community college students in study abroad programs, as well as increased the numbers of students studying in nontraditional countries.

I would hope that ACPA join in and strongly support this legislation. What better way to advance our students’ understanding of the global agenda but to experience it first-hand.

Let’s begin by advancing our own global understanding as educators and mentors of college students. As you know ACPA hosted a cultural study tour to Ghana, West Africa this past summer and will be co-hosting a cultural study tour with ACU-I, ACUHO-I, and NASPA to South Africa in May of 2007.This is a good beginning but let’s get our students around the globe. Our next efforts will be to develop a meaningful experience in a Latin American country in the very near future. Our program to Ghana, West Africa will be offered every other year, starting June 7-21, 2008.

Well, the capitol is quiet as Congress is on recess until after Labor Day and will return for a short session before the mid-term elections.

Until next time,

*Excerpts from the draft document of August 3, 2006 on the work of the Commission on Higher Education, from the Department of Education under the leadership of Mr. Charles Miller, chair and Secretary Spellings, US Department of Education.