Competency 3 – Organization, Leadership, and Administration of Student Affairs

Blog home | Portfolio Home | CSSA Competencies: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 |

3)Organization, Leadership, and Administration of Student Affairs

Graduates should be able to demonstrate their understanding of higher education/ student affairs administration and those aspects related to the design, delivery, and organization of student affairs in college and university settings. In meeting this competency, students should demonstrate their experience with/knowledge of…

Reflections: Fiscal resources, budget development and management in supporting student affairs programs or services
My undergraduate degree is in public relations and a large part of my program revolved around the creation, formulation, and implementation of budgets. As a student leader at the University of Northern Iowa I was involved in managing our organizations financial resources. I feel that this experience enabled me to empathize with student organizations at UIC that I would mentor and support.

When I was employed at the University of Illinois at Chicago part of my duties included working with my supervisors to create a budget for the UIC Wellness Center. I was the marketing specialist and I was responsible for ensuring that I was able to effectively promote the Wellness Center within a given budget cycle. I co-authored Wellness Center budget presentations for the UIC Student Fee Committee. I co-presented two budget proposals during my tenure at UIC. It was a unique experience. The presentation was extremely important to the office as our operating budget was financed solely via student fees. While I was at UIC, the state of Illinois higher education system underwent significant budget cuts. I was involved in deciding which programs would be eliminated or modified. I was forced to significantly reduce my marketing budget while maintaining a high level of student participation.

Throughout my experiences at UIC, I was involved in various campus committees. I served on the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) for two years. As a member of the SAFC I was able to advise student groups who wished to utilize student fee funds for a variety of campus programs. I learned how to “read between the lines” of a funding proposal. Honorariums, event security, and cost per student ratios became part of my committee toolkit. I also advised student groups on how to create a proposal for the SAFC that would have an increased chance to receive funding. I was aware of the ethical ramifications of my actions and would frequently recuse myself from certain committee proceedings.

When I arrived at OSU, I felt that my competency in this was fairly robust. However, to supplement my practical experiences, I ended up taking the CSSA Budget and Finance class with a one credit option for increased learning opportunities with campus housing finances/budgets. I created excel spreadsheets for a fictitious union operation. This exercise increased my overall skill with excel (formulas and multi-page layouts) as well as with balancing a large budget which included: deferred maintenance, technology, assessment, and FTE costs. One opportunity which furthered my learning was an analysis of a sample budget. I was able to critique a budget and provide meaningful suggestions for increasing efficiency while furthering student success. The culminating project for our class was a mock student fee committee presentation. I presented with two other CSSA students. We created a PowerPoint which provided our “committee” with a visual of our budget proposal. My previous experiences at UIC enabled me to approach this assignment with confidence. Having successfully presented real-world budgets to UIC students, staff, and faculty, I knew I would be able to address questions from a faux committee.

My graduate assistantship has challenged me since I do not have access to positional funds. I think it has been beneficial that I have had to write up rationales for hardware, software, books, and professional development opportunities.

Human resources/personnel management, including hiring, supervising, and evaluating employee performance Human resources were a huge part of my experience at UIC. I was involved in position description creation, resume selection, interviewing, evaluation, policy creation, and employee dismissal. My primary experiences were with student employees who worked with the Wellness Center. I was part of the hiring process for employees in UIC Campus Housing and UIC Campus Programs. Participation in various aspects of human resources at UIC gave me a strong foundation of personnel management experience.

In my CSSA Organization and Administration of College Student Services class I learned about personnel management from a big picture perspective. The readings from this course were extremely beneficial and pushed me to think about the organic and strategic aspects of human resources with relation to the campus environment.

I partially participated in a search committee for a position during my first year at OSU. I learned about OSU’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office. Apparently, a representative from the office attends the introductory meeting of most search committees. Eventually I became so interested in the position that I applied for the job. I ended up recusing myself from the search committee, interviewing for the position, and finally declining an offer for the job. It was a fascinating experience because I had started out on one side of the hiring committee process and ended up on the prospective employee side. I declined the job opportunity because I felt that I needed another year of full-time graduate work before I transitioned to a full-time job.

I attended the NASPA National Conference in March and had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr. Luoluo Hong from Arizona State University West Campus. The presentation was entitled “Transforming Commitment Into Action: Alleviating Unconscious Bias to Create More Diverse Campus Workforces.” It was an excellent session and I learned about how unconscious bias can emerge during a hiring process. Dr. Hong presented attendees with a list of diversity themed questions which were designed to elicit answers that had meaning and value.

The CSSA Legal Issues course provided additional information and learning on personnel management with regards to free speech and tort liability. The final course paper was a legal memo for a simulated hate speech scenario involving a student and a faculty member.

Organizational structure, dynamics, and leadership
My initial experiences at UIC as a new professional enabled me to learn a lot about organizational structures, dynamics, and leadership. I think the organizational chart was the first thing that I looked at in order to make sense of how UIC was constructed. I read the institutional mission and read about the chancellor. It really helped me to learn about the overall picture of student affairs and the complete campus environment. I attended a formal presentation entitled, “Making Sense of University Organizations,” which really gave me a sense of the broader fields of student affairs and academic affairs and that not every university was structured like UIC.

At OSU, one of my first courses was CSSA Programs & Functions in College Student Services. It was a great class filled with information on every aspect of student affairs. I had read a couple of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) sections on college health, but I had not seen the entire publication. The information contained within the CAS standards was tremendous in that it gave me a deeper level of knowledge regarding most student affairs areas.

In my second practicum experience (OSU Student Conduct), I was able to ask questions about the structure of the office and the processes which shaped office occurrences. During my third practicum experience (Teaching Odyssey and Academic Success), I learned a lot about the structure and leadership of the Academic Success Center. The Center is an innovative place which is student focused and I enjoyed its optimistic energy. Both of these practicum experiences were useful in that I was able to learn about new modes of organization and leadership. Both offices were really hands off and flexible. I was able to be creative and I think it increased my experience.

My OSU Graduate Assistantship with Enrollment Management provided me with exposure to a field that I had never worked in before. Enrollment Management at OSU consists of Admissions, Student Orientation and Retention, Registrar, Financial Aid, SMILE, and Precollege programs. I learned about the admissions funnel, SCT Banner, and the dynamics of such a large division. It is my hope that the CSSA Enrollment Management course which I am currently taking will elevate my overall knowledge of strategic enrollment management (SEM) and the future of the SEM organizational structure.

Another class which gave me additional exposure to campus leadership was my CSSA Housing Class. This course was part of my Budget and Finance class. We met for an hour a week and discussed the complexities of managing a million dollar budget and scores of staffers. I felt that this hour was extremely beneficial as I did not have previous experience with an auxiliary campus service.

I am presently attending OSU Department of Student Life meetings to continue my experiences and learning within another OSU leadership context. This has given me additional insight into an area which contains: OSU Greek Life, Diversity Development, Student Involvement, Student Conduct, and Student Media.

Lastly, a unique excercise on campus structure took place in my CSSA History of Higher Education course. The class was divided into two groups. One group was pro-tenure while the other was anti-tenure. I was in the pro-tenure group. I never realized why we need tenure before this assignment.

Legal issues critical in guiding and influencing practice
The CSSA Legal Issues class was extremely useful in my knowledge of critical student affairs legal issues. The primary areas that we addressed were tort liability and free speech. I was able to learn about the complexities of free speech law and the elements of liability concerns. I think that balancing my class experiences with practical experiences has been an area of growth. I have quite a bit of student conduct/judicial experience. I chaired student conduct hearings at UIC and have served as an informal hearing officer at OSU as well as sitting on the OSU student conduct committee.

Additional sources of information about this topic area come from NASPA, Educause, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The amount of legal information can at times be overwhelming. I think it’s important to network with colleagues in a variety of functional areas so that information and skills can be shared and appreciated.