From the Editor: Impacting the Well-being of our Communities

From the Editor: Impacting the Well-being of our Communities

Paul Eaton

One of the pleasures of working on the publication of Developments is garnering a more full and complete sense of the people we work with daily, the many issues we tackle, and our continued commitment as a profession to ensuring our communities are strong, vibrant, and welcoming. Next week our profession will join with NIRSA in Las Vegas to examine how we “Inspire Communities of Wellbeing.” Conference season is our opportunity to renew our commitments to the profession, our students, our universities, and each other. Joining with our colleagues from NIRSA will only strengthen the many possibilities available to each of us, so I look forward to seeing you all there.

Well-being is defined as “a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity.” In her piece exploring the ACPA Strategic Plan, Jan Davis Barham explores the state of our Association’s well-being, examining feedback from last year’s membership survey. I encourage our membership to read this piece for a complete understanding of how our Association is setting an agenda focused on our needs as student affairs professionals. Most striking to me about this report is the desire of our membership to continue learning through quality scholarship, examination of difficult issues, and continued dialogue. The breadth and depth of articles in this month’s edition of Developments will surely challenge all of us to think more deeply about incredibly complex topics and challenges facing our profession, students, and field.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Standing Committee for Women, we begin a new series entitled “Women As.” This series will explore the voices of women in our field, sharing their perspectives and questions about navigating the terrain(s) of multiple intersecting identities. These voices are poignant, powerful, and purposeful in their message. Sharon Chia Claros, Laila Al-Chaar, Conway, Rise Nelson Burrow, and Elsie Gonzalez examine the question of women as caregivers – in the profession and their personal lives – and how gender, religious identity, sexual orientation, and gendered norms impact their experiences as women in student affairs. Sonja Ardoin and Lindsey Katherine-Dippold dissect the realities of pursuing doctoral studies as a woman. Not only does their piece offer practical advice to women pursuing or thinking of pursuing an advanced degree, but also challenges our profession and faculty to continue thinking about making the path toward a Ph.D. more accessible for women.

Our Featured Columns (Ethical Issues, Global Affairs, & Legal Issues) explore potentially contentious issues. Neal Hutchens examines the lack of first-amendment rights that many student affairs professionals have on campus and invites a rethinking of the legal issues that can arise in “speaking up” as a professional. Jason Lane discusses the problem of seeing international students as “cash cows,” a problem that I believe is not limited solely to international students. In economically strapped times, out-of-state students are increasingly viewed as revenue generating bodies. This piece reminds us that we must challenge our institutions to see students not as dollar signs but as human beings worthy of a quality, engaged, holistic education. Our ethical issues column ties the Legal Issues and Global Affairs column together nicely, asking us all to re-examine the development of an ethical framework in our work.

Matthew Fuller examines research on the role of student affairs staff in advancing an assessment agenda, focused not on accreditation, but on enhancing student learning. Finally, Rory O’Neill Schmitt and Dale-Ellen O’Neill discuss their pedagogical approaches to enhancing first-year student self-efficacy in first-year seminars. These pieces provide practical advice and important insights into enhancing our role as student affairs practitioners on campus, both inside and outside the classroom.

Each of these pieces provides opportunities for rich, vibrant discussion. Examine the questions provided; engage your colleagues, students, or family members. Or simply reflect on these broad topics. I believe this issue of Developments demonstrates the well-being of our profession and epitomizes our values. I look forward to seeing everyone next week in Las Vegas.

About the Editor

Paul Eaton is a doctoral student in Higher Education Administration at Louisiana State University and serves as Director of Institutional Assessment at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Please e-mail inquiries to Paul Eaton.

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