NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education

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Formation January 1919 (1919-01), Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Founders Robert Rienow, Thomas Arkle Clark
Headquarters 111 K Street NE, Washington, D.C., United States
Fields Student affairs
Membership (2015)
13,000 members
Kevin Kruger
Staff (2015)
Mission To be the principal source of leadership, scholarship, professional development, and advocacy for student affairs.
Formerly called
Conference of Deans and Advisers of Men (CDAM) (1919-1929)
National Association of Deans and Advisers of Men (NADAM) (1929-51)

NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (formerly the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) is the leading voice for student affairs administration, policy, and practice, and affirms the commitment of the student affairs profession to educating the whole student and integrating student life and learning. Founded in 1919 at the University of Wisconsin, NASPA has more than 13,000 members at 1,400 campuses, and 25 countries.[1] NASPA members are committed to serving college students by embracing the core values of diversity, learning, integrity, collaboration, access, service, fellowship, and the spirit of inquiry.[1] NASPA is one of many organizations focused on Graduate enrollment management.


To be the principal source of leadership, scholarship, professional development, and advocacy for student affairs.[1]


NASPA is the leading voice for the student affairs profession worldwide.[1]

Guiding Principles[edit]

  • Inclusion-Seeking ways to ensure access, voice, acknowledgement, opportunity, and participation at all levels.
  • Innovation-Continuously seeking improvement through new and creative approaches.
  • Integrity-Committed to high moral principles exhibiting authentic, honest, just, and ethical behavior.
  • Inquiry-Supporting research and scholarship to add to the knowledge base of the profession and ensure that data informs practice.[1]


NASPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In December 1918, Robert Rienow, the dean of men at the University of Iowa desired to create a meeting that would bring together various deans of men in the midwest. He, with Thomas Arkle Clark, dean of men at the University of Illinois, facilitated the founding meeting held at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in January 1919. The first meeting was quite small - three deans of men and three professors having campus interests were in attendance.[2]

Professor Louis A. Strauss of the University of Michigan referred to the first meeting as the "Conference of Deans and Advisers of Men." This label was used in prevalence until 1929 when it was changed to the National Association of Deans and Advisers of Men (NADAM). The new name was more fitting because many American universities did not have the "Dean of Men" title. Thomas Arkle Clark was the first person to claim the title in 1909, although he assumed the responsibilities in 1901.[3] Scott Goodnight, dean of men at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, served as host for this historic first meeting. Retroactively, he is referred to as the first president of NADAM.[2]

As early as the 1920s, NADAM played a valuable placement role for its members;[2] a function that continues today as "The Placement Exchange".

In 1925, the first piece of "research" - presented by John Bennett of Teachers College, Columbia University - was offered at a NADAM meeting. It dealt with the prevalence of the office of dean of men in American colleges and universities. The last meeting of the '20s was the first to be conducted away from the college campus; there were 76 participants, each paying dues of $10.[2]

In the 1930s, there were continued requests for publications to be submitted to the conferences. The NASPA Journal, as a result, was first introduced in 1963. Before that time, newsletters were the primary way of communicating regarding published material.[2]

One of the Association's major preoccupations in the 1940s was World War II and its aftermath. The adaptation of campuses to the war effort are reflected in the conference minutes, and the problems relating to veterans once the war was over took the rest of the decade. The decade was noted by the presence of Armour Blackburn of Howard University, the first African-American administrator to participate and serve on an executive committee.[2]

As student affairs offices began to change and administrators no longer used "Dean of Men" and "Advisor of Men" as their titles, the organization followed suit. Mary Ethel Ball, acting dean of students at the University of Colorado, became the first female "institutional representative," although women had participated in meetings since the 20s. Dean Wesley P. Lloyd at Brigham Young University recommended a name change in 1951 to the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). This gave a new breadth to the organization, which stated its purpose: "to discuss and study the most effective methods of aiding students in their intellectual, social, moral, and personal development".[2]

Five commissions were established at the 1951 conference to deal with substantive, ongoing issues (e.g., professional relationships, ethics, professional preparation). A secondary benefit of the commissions was in making more members able to participate in the association's activities.[2]

The 1960s marked many changes in NASPA. For the first time, outside funding was secured for a NASPA activity, making the association an early leader in educating members concerning drug abuse. NASPA was an active participant in the development of the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students. From 1966 until the end of the decade and beyond, crisis was the most prominent campus issue and the most prominent association concern. Some deans were enormously successful in protecting both their campuses and the rights of students, but disruption of campuses became more prevalent.[2]

During the 1970s, increased regionalization heightened opportunities for involvement across the whole spectrum of NASPA's membership. Alice Manicur of Frostbug State College became the first female president, and community colleges began to make their presence felt. George Young at Broward Community College was the first community college person to serve as president of NASPA.[2]

It was during this decade that NASPA first established a national office under the leadereship of Channing Briggs at Portland State University. Upon Briggs' retirement in 1981, Richard F. Stevens became the second executive director, and the national office was moved to Ohio State University. In 1985, the association voted to move its headquarters to Washington, D.C., and in 1987 Elizabeth M. Nuss of Indiana University, succeeded Stevens. In 1995, Gwendolyn Dungy succeeded Nuss.[2] In 2000 the National Association for Women in Education was merged into NASPA.[4]

Professional development opportunities[edit]

Since the association's inception, NASPA annual conferences continue to be the principal means of professional development for NASPA members. Since the first six met, these conferences have grown to over 5,000 participants. The exponential growth in conference attendance is mirrored by the expansion in complexity, breadth, and depth of conference programs. The desire for gathering remains the same, however: to connect with colleagues; to grow in understanding of higher education issues of the day; and to present research and programs to expand the field and enrich the nation's campuses.

With an awards luncheon taking place at the first meeting in 1919, national awards are one of NASPA's longest traditions. In the last decade, two significant award changes have been made—the establishment of a new national award for mid-level student affairs professional and the development of the NASPA Excellence Awards. Initiated in 2005, the NASPA Excellence Awards recognize "outstanding programs, innovative services and effective administration" by NASPA members.

National workshops were introduced in 1996, with initial offerings including programs on assessment, fund raising, and technology. Other programs identified on-going needs of constituent groups that influenced the incorporation of these concerns on the 'Board of Directors level, such as the small college programs that evolved into the biennial Small Colleges and Universities Institute. Another example is the International Assessment and Retention Conference, which focuses on the two preeminent higher education issues of the last few years.[5]

Divisions and centers[edit]

NASPA launched the National Academy for Leadership and Executive Effectiveness in 1997 based on the work of the Committee on Future Skills and Knowledge of Student Affairs Leaders, appointed by NASPA President James E. Scott in 1994. Very appropriately, the Academy was renamed for Dr. Scott in 2003, the year after he died. The original committee identified five curricular areas to improve leadership effectiveness for senior students affairs officers (SSAOs): executive effectiveness; educator effectiveness; personal effectiveness; understanding politics and power; and understanding the power and implications of technology.

Laurence Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Eastern Michigan University, initiated the concept of the Centers for Innovation in February 2000, proposing centers for leadership, public policy, research, and technology to guide professional development for the association. By 2005, these centers had formally evolved to: The Center for Public Policy; The Center for Scholarship, Research, and Professional Development for Women; The Center for Student Life Studies and Demographics; The Center for Technology and E-Learning in Student Affairs; and the previously discussed Center for the James E. Scott National Academy for Leadership and Executive Effectiveness.[5]

NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program[edit]

The NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP) has served as the foundation for NASPA's [diversity] efforts. By identifying and nurturing talented undergraduate students interested in student affairs, NASPA, through its participating institutions and the student affairs professionals committed to serving as mentors, built a base for the development of the profession. This selective undergraduate program's purpose is to increase ethnic minorities, GLBT students, and students with disabilities in student affairs and higher education.[5]

International Expansion[edit]

By 2005, 30 countries (with Canadian representation including nine provinces) had at least one institutional member. Efforts include the International Symposium, which celebrated its 10th anniversary at the 2005 annual conference, and a significant expansion in exchange programs. In 1998, NASPA groups visited France, Germany, Mexico, and the United Kingdom with reciprocal visits from France and Mexico. In 2000, NASPA signed new agreements with Australia, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom and had the first exchange with Australia. Agreements with Canada, Iceland, and Italy were added in 2003. Over 100 NASPA members have participated in international exchanges since the inception of the program in 1995.[5]

Assessment and Research[edit]

In the last decade, federal and state government officials, boards of trustees, parents, and the general public have demanded that higher education take [assessment] more seriously. The Student Affairs Benchmarking Project evolved from the Benchmarking Interest Group (BIG), which worked with the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to revise original NACUBO benchmarks for student affairs.

The 1997 publication of Principles of Good Practice in Student Affairs in cooperation with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) provided another means for institutions and student affairs professionals to assess their programs and development. Building on the 1994 Student Learning Imperative that focused the student affairs profession on student learning and learning environments, good practice in student affairs:

  • Engages students in active learning.
  • Helps students develop coherent values and ethical standards.
  • Sets and communicates high expectations for student learning.
  • Uses systematic inquiry to improve student and institutional performance.
  • Uses resources effectively to achieve institutional missions and goals.
  • Forges educational partnerships that advance student learning.
  • Builds supportive and inclusive communities.

NASPA's longest research project has been the Salary Survey, which is now done every two years. The survey was initiated in the early 1970s and was preceded by national surveys on the functions of student affairs administrators that NASPA started in 1932.[5]

Regional and Knowledge Communities[edit]

Regional groups emerged in the early 1960s with the election of vice presidents of seven regions mirroring the six national accreditation regions, except that the large Region IV was divided into East and West divisions In addition, international institutional members are assigned to regions.

At the 2000 NASPA Annual Conference, NASPA Networks, initiated in 1989, were transformed into Knowledge Communities. Knowledge Communities extend professional development by identifying emerging knowledge and critical professional practice issues, using technology to expand communication, and undertaking collaborative efforts. Consequently, the range and type of Knowledge Communities has grown in the past decade, as have the means to communicate. KCs are expected to expand knowledge available to NASPA members through online discussions, providing articles for NASPA publications, or providing professional development opportunities at national or regional conference events.[5]


First published in 2003, Leadership Exchange is a quarterly magazine focusing on leadership and management for senior student affairs officers.

NetResults is an online magazine dedicated to current issues in student affairs

The NASPA Forum, originally a quarterly print newsletter, expanded in 1997-98 to allow for more submissions. In 1999, significant changes resulted in the Forum featuring more in-depth articles, a continued focus on legal issues, and more information on technology issues. In March 2003, the Forum went online, and is sent to members monthly.

Published quarterly online, the NASPA Journal is the publication outlet for contemporary scholarship in student affairs administration, research, and practice.

The Journal of College and Character publishes scholarly articles and applied research on issues related to ethics, values, and character development in the higher education setting. The journal focuses specifically on how colleges and universities influence, both intentionally and unintentionally, the moral and civic learning and behaviors of college students.

Journal About Women in Higher Education is a scholarly journal published annually in March. The journal focuses on issues affecting all women in higher education: students; student affairs staff; faculty, and other administrative groups.

NASPA also publishes several new books each year, maintains a backlist of more than 40 titles, and has e-books available online.[6]

NASPA Foundation[edit]

The NASPA Foundation was created in 1974-75 under the leadership of NASPA President John Blackburn to provide funds for ongoing research and programs. One of the most significant Foundation programs is "Pillars of the Profession," which recognizes distinguished student affairs leaders of "professional distinction" who have served in NASPA leadership roles and are recognized for "extraordinary service."[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "About NASPA". NASPA. Retrieved 2015-09-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rhatigan, James J. (1989). "NASPA History". NASPA. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  3. ^ "Thomas Arkle Clark Award". Alpha Tau Omega. Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  4. ^ Kelly C. Sartorius (December 2014). Deans of Women and the Feminist Movement: Emily Taylor's Activism. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 187. ISBN 113748134X. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Tuttle, Kathryn Nemeth (May 6, 2008). "Recent History". NASPA. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  6. ^ "Publications". NASPA. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 

External links[edit]

Official website