Commissions Corner

Commissions Corner

Laura A. Bayless
Coordinator for Commissions
Heather Shea Gasser
Past Coordinator for Commissions

This issue of Developments highlights the work of two Commissions:

  • Spirituality, Faith, Religion and Meaning
  • Graduate and Professional Student Affairs

Please take a moment to read these brief articles. We expect you will find resources to assist in your work on your campus. Commissions and Task Forces produce a number of important professional development opportunities ranging from webinars to publications to in-person training opportunities. It is never too late to become involved yourself; contact any Commission Chair for information about how to make a difference in ACPA and in the field through work in Commissions.

Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and Meaning

Sharon A. Lobdell, Chair

The ACPA Commission for Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and Meaning (CSFRM) provides ACPA members an arena within which to conduct research and assessment, strengthen their professional competencies, and enrich their self-knowledge and professional knowledge about issues related to meaning-making, specifically spirituality, faith, religion, belief, and existentialism within the context of higher education. In addition, acting within the ACPA governance structure [e.g., governing board, assembly, etc.] and with the ACPA International Office, CSFRM will assist in positioning ACPA to be an informed voice on existential pursuits of meaning-making, including spirituality, faith, religion, and belief as they relate to student development, the administration of student affairs, and the organization of governance structures within a college, community college, or university setting. These efforts will include examining various modes of pursuing meaning-making in the contextual experience of both the United States and the global higher education community (CSFRM, 2010).

The previous paragraph is the mission adopted by the commission in October 2009. The commission provides many opportunities and resources consistent with this mission. Recently, the CSFRM sponsored two webinars, “If Not Now, When? Student Affairs Educators’ Role in Promoting Religious/Secular Pluralism” and “Atheist College Students: Faith, Spirituality, and Meaning Making.” Both webinars were collaborative efforts led by CSFRM Directorate members and other participants dedicated to presenting learning tools for our colleagues. We were also quite fortunate to have a four-part series, “Working on Our Inner Lives: Meaning-Making in Colleges and Universities,” featured in Developments in the past year. (Read the second installment of the series in the summer 2011 issue here).

The CSFRM is currently revamping its organizational structure. The new structure will have the following six subcommittees, each co-chaired by Directorate members: Professional Development and High Impact Practices, Publications and Research Development, Convention Services, Sponsored Programs, Partnership Development, and Outreach and Member Services. Any current member of the CSFRM can work on one of these teams. If you have not joined the commission, perhaps now is the time!

Additional information about the CSFRM is available on the commission Web site. Please direct questions to Commission Chair Sharon Lobdell or Chair-Elect Jenny Small.

Commission for Graduate and Professional Student Affairs

Mary T. Hall, Chair

There are more than two million students enrolled in graduate and professional schools in the United States (American Bar Association, 2011; Association of American Medical Colleges, 2011; Council of Graduate Schools, 2011). These masters, doctoral, and professional (e.g., MD, MBA, JD) degree students face unique academic, developmental, and environmental challenges.

The Commission for Graduate and Professional Student Affairs (CGPSA) is a community of student affairs professionals who work with graduate and professional students (e.g., MA, MS, MEd, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, DVM) across student affairs functional areas (e.g., admissions, enrollment, orientation, academic advising, counseling and psychological services, career services, residence life) in every institution type that offers graduate and/or professional degrees. The Commission members work to expand the scholarly and applied knowledge base by generating and sharing research, services, and programs that foster and enhance the graduate and professional student learning experience.

The CGPSA serves as a vital intellectual and social home for many student affairs professionals—many who serve the graduate student population in an office of one. Specifically, our commission provides support and networking opportunities for professionals who share similar concerns affecting the broader graduate and professional student population (e.g., attrition) or a specific subset (e.g., law school outcomes assessments). Further, our commission advocates for increased awareness of graduate and professional student services throughout ACPA and other higher education communities.

We invite you to join us in the following networking and other opportunities:

  • Volunteers wanted! A CGPSA committee is developing an annotated bibliography of research and periodical articles on the graduate and professional student experience.
  • Two free conference calls in summer 2012 regarding sponsored programs for the 2013 annual convention will address the items: What is a sponsored program? How to submit a proposal. What are topics of interest?
  • A webinar in summer 2012 will be presented regarding alcohol and the graduate/professional student culture.
  • Regional drive-in conference will be held on October 19, 2012 at Harvard University (Co-sponsored with our colleagues in the NASPA Administrators in Graduate and Professional Student Services Knowledge Community, Region I). Contact Jason McKnight (CGPSA Past-Chair) for more details.
  • Join the conversation with your CGPSA colleagues on LinkedIn.

Additional information about CGPSA is available on the Commission Web site. Please direct questions to the Commission Chair, Mary Hall.


Please contact Mary T. Hall for article references.

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