The Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs national survey was first commissioned by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2011. The national survey is administered by the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) at The Ohio State University, which is directed by Professor Terrell Strayhorn. Among other things, Strayhorn served as ACPA director of research and scholarship from 2009 to 2012.
The purpose of this commissioned study was to examine the extent to which diversity and inclusion permeates aspects (e.g., administrative structures, commitments, work environments, staffi ng practices) of various divisions of student aff airs (or equivalent) at participating ACPA member institutions across the globe. On the following pages, you will see institutional profi les of fi ve of the Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs. The full list (in alphabetical order) for 2015 is:
* Institution was a member of the inaugural class of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs in 2014.
+ Institution was named Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs in 2015.
^ Institutional leaders announced closure of institution earlier this year.
Click to see full table
The Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) is an interdisciplinary research and policy center that promotes the important role postsecondary education plays in global society, especially the vital roles and responsibilities of public higher education. CHEE is committed to improving student success by doing distinctive research, policy analysis and outreach that will help make higher education more accessible, affordable, engaged and all-around excellent.
CHEE’s mission is to become the country’s preeminent higher education research and policy center, solving issues of national signifi cance. And in terms of vision, CHEE exists to advance the higher education enterprise through the creation and dissemination of distinctive research that informs policy, strengthens communities and enables student success. For more, go to: http://chee.osu.edu.
Educational Excellence: to ensure student access and success.
Research and Innovation: to make high-quality, distinctive contributions.
Outreach and Engagement: to cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships.
Dr.Terrell Lamont Strayhorn (principal investigator) is a professor of higher education at The Ohio State University, where he also serves as director of CHEE. Author of eight books, over 100 journal articles and book chapters, more than 150 papers at international and national conferences, and over 200 keynotes, Strayhorn was named one of the top scholars in his field by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2011.
Derrick L. Tillman-Kelly (project coordinator) is special assistant to the director in CHEE and a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education and Student Aff airs (HESA) graduate program at The Ohio State University. Author of several journal articles and book chapters, his research interests center on administrative issues, social identity and sexuality, and presidential derailment.
In addition to the principal investigator and project coordinator, the project benefited from the contributions of other CHEE staff who helped contact administrators, craft institutional profi les and elicit quotations. These include (in alpha order): Trevion Henderson, Royel Johnson, Dr. Joey Kitchen, Tiger Litam, Katy Nash, Amber Samimi, Sondra Shook and Christopher Travers.
Initial planning and development of this national study of student affairs divisions began in fall 2011, with advice and meaningful input from a national advisory board comprised of researchers, practitioners and experts on student affairs work-life. Given the project’s focus on workplace diversity, staffing practices and work environment, the advisory board and project team agreed to six initial categories, including family friendliness, salary/benefits and professional development opportunities, to name a few.
Initial categories, response options and data types were piloted during a concurrent session at the 2010 ACPA Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Feedback from that session and additional input from experts led to revision of
the web-based survey, renaming of original categories, or clarifying response options to satisfy the diversity of institutional types and division organization. The final web survey was mounted to a secure server managed by the Center for Higher Education Enterprise via Qualtrics, an online survey software. Using a list provided by ACPA, CHEE staff sent electronic invitations to institutional representatives at hundreds of campuses; electronic invitations included a hyperlink to the website on which the survey was placed.
Participants responded to the survey online, typically requiring 30 minutes to complete the instrument once data were assembled. No incentives were offered to encourage participation and respondents understood that their
institutional identity might be released in a special edition(s) of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. The survey launched in late fall 2014 with release of the initial invitations to all ACPA member institutions; follow-up reminders were sent at two-week intervals and CHEE staff placed calls to senior student affairs officers to call attention to the invitation and encourage their response. Accounting for bounce-backs and undeliverables, the estimated response rate is 15 percent.
Tracey Cameron, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Intercultural Education
Director of Harambee House
Advisor to Students of African Descent
Stan Carpenter, Ph.D.
College of Education
Texas State University
Kristen A. Renn, Ph.D.
Professor of Higher, Adult, & Lifelong Education
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies/Director
for Student Success Initiatives
Michigan State University
Joan B. Hirt, Ph.D.
Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School of Education
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Sue Saunders, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator, Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration
Extension Professor, Department of Educational Leadership
Neag School of Education
University of Connecticut
Note: Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, Derrick Tillman-Kelly and Ralph Newell (at Diverse) served as ex-officio members of the national advisory board to this project.
Data from the online, web-based survey were analyzed in several stages. First, descriptive data were computed or reported as is. For instance, institution names, locations and characteristics (e.g., 2- vs. 4-year, control, enrollment) were transferred directly from the survey to various parts of this report.
Second, quantitative data were averaged, where necessary, across participating institutions within the sample of respondents. For instance, average salaries (by rank) and percent diverse representation (% female) were computed and
reported in this report. Third, “ratings” were computed using a 3-point scale ranging from “A” to “B” and “C.” For each rating item, we first computed the sample mean (removing any zero “0” scores, which indicate absence of practice/policy) for all participating institutions. Then, we evaluated or benchmarked each item score for the highest overall scoring institutions using the following: A = above average, B = at average, C = below average, for each dimension assessed by the survey.
The Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs national survey is comprised of approximately 50 items, including informed consent, study description and background information. Below are operational definitions for 32
items as they appear on the national survey instrument.
Institution Name. Information was provided by respondents via online survey and distinguishes individual campuses from larger statewide or multicampus systems.
Location. Information was provided by respondent via online survey and subsequently verified using data from the Carnegie Classification website. For more information, go to:
Control. Information was provided using data from the Carnegie website. Publicly
controlled institutions include state and tribally controlled institutions. Private
universities are universities not operated by state or tribal governments. For more
information, go to: http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/
Level. Information was provided using data from the Carnegie website. Indicates whether institution is classified as two-year versus four-year institution, which generally refers to the average time required to complete basic degree option.
Carnegie Classification. Information was drawn from the Carnegie website based on the ‘institution name’ provided by respondents; “Associate” includes institutions where all degrees are at the associate level or where bachelor’s degrees account for less than 10% of all undergraduate degrees, “Bachelor’s” includes institutions where bachelor’s degrees represent at least 10% of all undergraduate degrees and that award(ed) fewer than 50 master’s or 20 doctoral degrees; “Master’s” includes institutions that award(ed) at least 50 master’s degrees and fewer than 20 doctoral degrees, “Research” includes institutions that award(ed) at least 20 doctoral degrees, and “Special Focus” includes institutions that offer bachelor’s degree (or higher) where over 75% are in a single field or related field (excludes tribal colleges). For more information, go to: http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/descriptions/
Student Enrollment. Information was provided by respondent via online survey and subsequently verified using data from the Carnegie website. For more information, go to: http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/
Number of full-time student affairs staff. Information was provided by respondents via online survey, based on institutional employee records.
Average salary(-ies). Information was provided by respondents via online survey,
based on rank of professional positions. For comparative data, visit College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) at http://www.cupahr.org.
50% female student affairs staff. Information was provided by respondents via online survey, based on institutional employee records. 30% ethnic minority student affairs staff. Information was provided by respondents via online survey and compiled to include Black, Latina/o, Asian/
Pacific Islander, Native American and multiracial.
5% LGBT student affairs staff. Information was provided by respondents via
online survey, based on institutional employee records.
5% student affairs staff with disability. Information was provided by respondents via online survey, based on institutional employee records.
Caregiving leave for all. Indicates whether the division/department or institution
allows all staff to request leave for caregiving reasons.
Childcare services. Indicates whether the division/department or institution provides childcare services or referrals.
Continuing education. Indicates whether the institution or department offers continuing education to student aff airs staff ; includes for-credit and non-credit options.
Education leave. Indicates whether the division/department or institution allows all staff to request leave for educational reasons.
Elder care services. Indicates whether the division/department or institution provides elder care services or referrals.
Flexible work schedules. Indicates whether the division/department or institution allows flexible work schedules.
Mentoring. Indicates whether staff in the division/department of student aff airs at the institution receive formal mentoring support.
Stress reduction programs. Indicates whether the division/department or institution provides stress reduction programs.
Bias monitoring. Rates the extent to which the division/department of student affairs has a formal reporting system for instances of discrimination or harassment and responds appropriately to reported incidents.
Climate toward diversity. Rates the extent to which staff in the division/ department of student affairs perceive the unit’s climate toward diversity as friendly versus hostile.
Overall commitment to diversity. Rates the extent to which the division/ department of student aff airs’ commitment to diversity has increased over the last five years.
Comprehensive new staff orientation. Rates the extent to which the division/ department of student affairs new staff orientation includes the following: educational and operational philosophies and procedures, history and culture, and importance of diversity of the division and campus, to name a few.
Hiring process strategy. Rates the extent to which the division/department of student affairs has a strategy to guide the hiring process including assessment of need for position to decision to hire.
Long-term planning participation. Rates the extent to which staff in the division/department of student affairs at the institution participate in long-term planning.
Perceptions of leadership towards diversity. Rates the extent to which the administrative leadership of the division/department of student affairs embraces, celebrates and stresses the importance of diversity to the division/department’s work.
Performance evaluation process. Indicates whether the division or institution has a systematic process for evaluating employee performance.
Professional development. Rates the extent to which the division/department of student affairs at the institution provides professional development opportunities for staff members, including conferences, workshops and reading groups.
Staff autonomy. Rates the extent to which staff in the division/department of student affairs at the institution exercise autonomy in decision-making.
Support for departure. Rates the extent to which the division/department of student affairs is supportive of staff as they leave position or institution.
Support for professional development. Rates the extent to which the division/department of student affairs at the institution supports professional development of staff including financial support for conference travel, lodging, registration, research or technical assistance, and sponsored receptions at meetings.
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