Special Features: ACPA celebrates the Student Personnel Point of View 75 Years of Excellence and Relevance

Special Features: ACPA celebrates the Student Personnel Point of View 75 Years of Excellence and Relevance

Heidi Levine
ACPA President 2011-2012
Cornell College
Keith Humphrey
ACPA President 2012-2013
University of Arizona

The Student Personnel Point of View (SPPV) was written to fulfill a need: to describe the initial work of the student affairs profession.  Over the past seven decades, the SPPV has proved to be an immeasurable gift to our profession.  This year is the 75th anniversary of the SPPV, and ACPA is honored to celebrate this document that, despite its efforts to describe a moment in time, has become timeless in its teachings and direction for the profession.   One need not look further than the multitude of ACPA Commissions that provide leadership to all areas of student affairs to see the lasting effects of the SPPV.   The strong functional-area emphasis of the commissions reflects the many points of the profession highlighted in the 1937 document that are still advancing professional practice in 2012.   The SPPV is the foundation of our work and inspires innovation in professional practice and scholarly research for which ACPA is known throughout the higher education field.  As leaders in the profession, we are grateful for what the SPPV has provided.

In the classroom, new graduate students, eager to learn the theories and philosophies that guide our work, begin often by reading the SPPV.  Each fall the master’s students in many “Introduction to Student Affairs” courses are amazed that the SPPV clearly outlines functions that have grown into major departments and core services for our students.  Many remark that the SPPV is the first and only organization chart for the profession; all can clearly see themselves in that organizational chart 75 years later.

Those same graduate students go on to enter the student affairs profession, looking for opportunities to continue developing their knowledge and skills as practitioners. Again, the SPPV provides a foundational map to help point toward those areas in which all student educators should be competent, such as having the skills to assist students in deepening their self-understanding, developing academic skills, engaging with the community, and navigating effectively in an increasingly small and inter-connected world. Over the past 75 years, society and higher education have grappled with a range of challenges that could not have been anticipated easily in 1937, including the explosion of access to information, heightened (and sometimes contradictory) expectations about access to programs and services, coupled with increasing demands for accountability.

While the world of higher education, arguably, has become more complex, we still seek professional development opportunities that enable us to foster growth of the whole student, even as we extend our competence in our particular areas of expertise. Robert Brown’s article in the spring 2011 Developments (Vol. 9; Issue 1) called on us to return to the charge of the SPPV, which recognized that “the full maturing of each student cannot be attained without interest in and integrated efforts toward the development of each and every facet of his [sic] personality and potentialities” (pg. 2).  And, in a time in which we struggle to imbue our students with a sense of global citizenship and elevate public discourse, the SPPV’s focus on education to serve the common good and “directly and explicitly [educate students] for international understanding and cooperation” (pg. 1) is as relevant today as when first written.

The work of ACPA is infused with the SPPV’s call to action. Our association’s structure and professional development offerings reflect the importance that the SPPV places on developing the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out our jobs as student affairs practitioners and deepening our understanding of those conditions that will help students grow cognitively, interpersonally, affectively, and morally. Among ACPA’s core values are education of the whole student, respect for human dignity, promotion of inclusive and democratic processes, and the continuous creation and dissemination of knowledge. Each of these values not only helps shape ACPA, but can be traced back to those values espoused in the SPPV which calls for:

  • “Education for a fuller realization of democracy“ (pg.1)
  • “Education for the application of creative imagination and trained intelligence to the solution of social problems“ (pg. 1)
  • Institutions that include governance structures that promote collaboration and include students’ involvement (pg. 18)
  • Use of data to inform decision-making (pg. 19)


ACPA is eager to bring the student affairs profession together in Louisville this March for the annual Convention to celebrate many of our accomplishments, including the 75th anniversary of the SPPV. We hope our colleagues will take advantage of the myriad opportunities the convention will offer to answer the charge of the SPPV. As we prepare to come together in Louisville, we invite you also to engage in your own reflections on this charge as you consider the following questions:

  • How do we balance the call most effectively to educate the whole student with the demands to provide increasingly specific services and expertise?
  • What developmental tasks, beyond those named in the SPPV, must students in the 21st century master?
  • How do the imperatives described in the SPPV reflect the experiences and needs of adult, graduate, or part-time students?

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