Tuesday, November 3, 2009

VP Thoughts from Dr. Susan Salvador, ACPA VP 2009-10

Last March I began my journey as ACPA Vice President. What I didn't know at the convention was that -- as I transitioned to VP -- I had just jumped on a fast moving, powerful, focused, multitasking train. As our president Tom Jackson says: "Weeeeee." I had to hold on so I didn't fall off.

We are involved in ACPA in a multitude of purposeful ways. I have learned of the many amazing initiatives you are committed to; as well as the events, projects, and new initiatives that need my attention.

I have met new colleagues and rekindled relationships with colleagues who I have known for years -- all focused on our students and the profession.

I am professionally and personally enjoying 'the ride' and greatly look forward to being President.

Susan Salvador
ACPA Vice President (President 2010-11)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unification Documents: Answers to many of your questions
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

I sincerely hope you are having a wonderful fall semester and your respective students are engaged and thriving throughout campus.

This email is a special update on the continuing discussions related to unification with NASPA. Over the past several months the presidents and executive directors of both associations (past, current, and future presidents) have been working, emailing, planning, and talking about the many dynamics involved in unification. These discussions, including two face-to-face meetings, have been incredibly collegial, strategic, and positive. We share so much in common and it truly is rewarding to be working with such a fine group of people.

Today, both ACPA and NASPA shares with you some of the work of the presidents. These “unification” documents are in response to member feedback for additional information. More specifically, the following links take you to new documents (webpages): one that speaks to the considerations we have identified (including background, rationale, and pre-unification issues); a second that articulates the values guiding this process; and a third that contains frequently asked questions and the present responses to them.


With these pieces in hand, you now have more context and content related to our ongoing conversations concerning the unification issue. We are also still in the process of finalizing a communications plan/timeline document. We should be able to share that with you within a week or two.

Both ACPA and NASPA share a deep commitment to our profession. In fact, ACPA leaders have attended the many different state conferences and ACPA supported professional development programs to respond to member questions. If you have comments or questions you are strongly encouraged to share them using one of the emails below. As always, you can also review and respond to any of the ACPA President blogs located at http://acpa-president.blogspot.com.

ourcommonvoice@gmail.com - (read by both Tom and Mike)
msegawa@naspa.org - (read by Mike Segawa)
acpaprez@gmail.com - (read by Tom Jackson, Jr.)

As we continue to hear your voices and utilize our legal and unification consultants, this process will certainly evolve and we will do our best to keep you apprised of our progress. What an exciting time to be a Student Affairs professional. Thank you for your commitment to ACPA.

Tom Jackson, Jr.
ACPA President

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Future & Unification Responses (as of August 19, 2009)

When the leaderships of both ACPA and NASPA started seriously talking about the future of the profession and the many positive reasons to consider unification, we wanted to make sure that our members had the opportunity to express themselves. As the ACPA President, I have heard most of my career many reasons why both ACPA and NASPA should unify. As both a long time active member of both organizations it is rewarding to see the many comments that have come from the membership. Please do not stop. We want to hear what you are thinking.

Below is a summary of the many emails both Mike and I have received on the "ourcommonvoice@gmail.com" account. Since ACPA does not have a discussion board (as NASPA does on the member pages), this seemed to be a fitting way to share the comments that have been shared. There really are not too many secrets here, and this really isn't a new topic for many of us. We have taken out identifying or non-unification related information only because those comments had been written to Mike and I, and we suspect the authors did not intend the comments to be publicly identifiable.

If you have comments about any of the messages simply use the "comments" feature at the bottom of this blog post. As always, please share your thoughts. Our emails remain:

ourcommonvoice@gmail.com (read by Tom and Mike)
acpaprez@gmail.com (read by Tom)
msegawa@naspa.org (read by Mike)

COMMENTS FROM MEMBERS (prior to August 19, 2009)

  1. I believe that the time for one student affairs organization is here. I am a younger student affairs professional; I have been in the field since 2001 and I am now doing my PhD in Higher Education. I am sure that you have heard all of the arguments articulated a number of ways, so I will just voice my personal experience.

    I am currently a NASPA member, though in the past I have also been an ACPA member. To be honest, I don’t ever see a point where I will be able to justify paying for membership in both organizations. I wind up paying my yearly dues based on which conference I am better able to attend. I do some work in both organizations and sometimes find myself in the awkward position of technically not even being a member of the organization I am working for.

    I will not represent myself as doing a lot of work for either organization, but I have done enough and seen enough and been privy to enough meetings and decisions to absolutely resent the competition (rarely healthy, sometimes petty, often unnecessary) between the 2 groups. Unfortunately I have plenty of examples that cast people and groups in both organizations in a poor light. I have wasted time at conferences and on conference calls having conversations about how we can guard turf against the “other” group .

    Please create one voice for our profession as soon as possible.

  2. You both are very courageous as are the members of the task force that has done remarkable work. Jan and Vasti have provided vision and leadership that is needed and they bring a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to the task. Having spoken at length with Tom about just this topic over numerous years, I think that you, Tom know my feelings on this matter. Mike, I’ll say that this bold step is necessary for our profession to be a vibrant voice and force in higher education in this century. Without it, I fear we will drift and perhaps lose relevance and certainly influence in higher education and most definitely on our individual campuses – not all at once and maybe not on all campuses … but on many and perhaps the majority of campuses, we will become just another service center that is viewed as ancillary to the mission of the institution. We need a solid and unified national and international voice to have impact on the higher education stage now and in the foreseeable future.

    I therefore wish to state that I wholeheartedly support our profession’s efforts to join our two national voices into one and merge our efforts toward the betterment of our profession and our students. Thank you both for your vision and willingness to put aside the rivalry (maybe overstated, but most likely not …) between my two associations and to work to have one vital and strong visionary organization.

  3. First of all, I would like to thank the two of you for taking up this thorny issue which has long been a concern to me and our fellow NASPA and ACPA members. I know that the issues are many and the topic is fraught with potential pitfalls and that you will hear opinions across the spectrum from keep the organizations separate at all costs to lets merge tomorrow. Many of these voices come from powerful constituencies from within one or both of our organizations, and have managed to destroy past efforts in this direction. My first recommendation to both of you is please do not let these voices of negativism who scream to keep the organizations apart win the day this time. Out future and that of the student affairs profession is too important to let this happen.

    While I have met both of you, I know neither of you well. However, your backgrounds and your perspectives are positive and demonstrate large amounts of experience and good judgment. Everything I hear and know about both of you is positive and I trust your judgment. While this cannot be said for some of the other leaders of aspects of one or more of the groups within our organizations, I think that generally people are approaching this with an open mind and with good intentions. I have worked with the executive directors of both organizations and have respect for both as well as staff within the central offices of both organizations.

    I think that the key point of the midterm report is that we cannot be taken seriously as a profession as long as we have two competing broad based professional organizations. Having taught the history of higher education I understand from whence the two organizations have come and the different management structures and focuses of each. I teach an Introduction to Student Affairs course and have my students examine the structure, ethical statements and other aspects of each organization and we have great discussions about which organization best meets their needs. The bottom line is that most young professionals cannot afford to join both and thus must choose. This, among many other things fractures our profession. Congress and the Department of Education, ACE and other general higher education organizations as well as college and university presidents see us as fractured. We MUST come together.

    I cannot tell you how many presidents I have spoken with who think student affairs is a joke. They see weak campus leaders and laugh at how fractured we are. Unlike faculty we have no standards, or common directions, except voluntary ones by which our performances can be judged. We have no common structures and very little literature or research about how our divisions should be organized, how to properly supervise our staffs and this must occur and our professional association (you will notice I used the singular) must lead us in this direction.

    I could go on for a long time but will not do so. I hope you get feedback from many voices and that you and the other leaders of both organizations wisely approach this huge issue. The midterm report is a good start. Don’t blow it!

  4. I have been a member of NASPA for several years, and I am thrilled to see that NASPA and ACPA are exploring the possibility of becoming a single association representing student affairs professionals.

    I fully support the uniting of these two great organizations and I think it is absolutely the right move to make.

  5. I would like to express my support of the unification of ACPA and NASPA into a single, stronger voice on behalf of the student affairs profession.

    I have worked in the field for about a decade, recently transitioning into full-time graduate study to pursue my doctorate in Higher Education Leadership.

    My membership in both ACPA and NASPA has been on again off again because at different times during my career, one or the other organization met my professional needs. Merging the two resources would enable a continuity of support, services, research, and even national public policy involvement which is sorely needed in our nation's higher education system given its historical evolution in a capitalist society where regulation with inadequate funding compared the the K-12 system hampers our ability to serve all of our students, as diverse as they are, to the best of our abilities.

    Thank you for requesting member feedback.

  6. I think it makes a great deal of sense for the two organizations to merge to form a new association. It has always been somewhat concerning and confusing, especially in recent years, as to why there are two separate organizations with such similar missions and philosophies. In light of the demands on our time and budgets, it was always impossible, at least in my situation to belong to both organizations, especially after joining the professional ranks and being required to pay my own membership. I am in full support of unification and I think by doing so the organizations are providing an exemplary model of cooperation, collaboration, sustainability, and wise business sense.

  7. My opinion is that NASPA and ACPA should form as one association. This will increase our professional association's resources (financial and human) and expertise. It will unify our efforts while discouraging duplication. It will give us a stronger voice if we have one association that represents us.

  8. I am looking forward to entering my 5th year of Residence Life experience. Having worked at only two institutions of higher education to date, I have been alarmed at how quickly the professional development funds have been depleted (or some of the first funding targeted to be reabsorbed to cut costs).

    I have been told that, unofficially, ACPA and NASPA have two different primary consumers. ACPA being considered more new/entry level professional and NASPA being for mid-senior student affairs staff. This has also been my personal experience being a member of ACPA in 2004-2005 and a member of NASPA in 2008.

    That being said, in the past 5 years of my professional experience, it has been rare that I have been able to afford membership to either ACPA or NASPA as professional development funds have not been available and I have always had to choose which organization I would send membership dues from my own account to. (Don't worry--this is not a "I'm poor and disgruntled letter!")

    Where I have not been able to afford national membership dues, I have been able to afford regional associations membership fees, so I am involved indirectly and have greatly appreciated whatever professional development comes my way.

    I applaud and encourage the idea of combining ACPA and NASPA for the reasons you have given. My only reservation being that if these two associations are combined, what kind of programming and information will be available to the entry level professional who has eyes set on advancing in the field of student affairs? Specifically, how will the unification impact me as an entry level professional in the event that I find the funding to join? I understand this is a broad question and one that might not have an easily given response, so I am not asking for a response. I prefer that this question be kept on the table as you consider realigning organizational structures.

    From dialogues I have engaged in with colleagues, I think our primary concern stems from the feeling that we give much of ourselves to work in student affairs, and as you have pointed out, we are expected to do more with less, so how will this unification directly benefit its members--at any level? Will we be afforded the same opportunities to network and attend conferences/workshops that directly impact us?

    Will the research opportunities be the same, or will research/journal space be limited into one publication? I have more questions along these lines but don't want to get ahead of the process.

    I am not certain that any of this feedback will be helpful... However, as a practitioner in the field of student affairs and because I am intrigued by the concept of unification, I am interested in helping out in any way that I can in this exploration.

    With appreciation.

  9. I have read the documents forwarded and I would like to commend your leadership in making this happen.

    I fully support the joining of the two organizations and urge you to not let this come to impasse again.

    I appreciate the difficulty of the task but urge you to press on to successful conclusion.

  10. I write to commend and support each of you in your leadership efforts in this delicate but important area of merging two excellent professional associations. I am a member of both ACPA (for many, many years) and NASPA (fewer years but in perhaps more active roles).

    One of the sensitive issues of which you are certainly well aware is the regional vs. state organizations. All of the reasons you mention in your statement affect these affiliated organizations as well. While I strongly encourage my colleagues and students to attend the national conferences and read the national publications, the regional and state options are financially very attractive to many. My state's higher ed budgets have never been generous, and in today's financial realities, the "local" options are increasingly attractive. They have always been a great starting place for graduate students and new professionals as well.

    As a professional preparation faculty member, I am often asked by students why there are two national associations in student affairs. I strongly support both NASPA and ACPA, but this is a tough question to answer adequately without resorting to organizational stereotypes (that I choose not to pass along). In the merger process, I encourage you to continue/expand NASPA's complimentary national conference registration that NASPA offers faculty program coordinators.

    Again, thank you both for your leadership at this challenging (yet very exciting) time for both superb organizations. I look forward to supporting your efforts in any way that I can. Your work is vitally important to the future of the profession.

  11. As a long-time member of both associations, I am so pleased (and relieved) about the progress that has been made under your leadership (and Vasti and Jan’s) towards uniting our membership. I am absolutely convinced that it is the right thing to do, but, as we know, the devil is in the details. Thank you both for being willing to do the hard work to manage the discussion, the strong opinions and, I hope, eventually, the details to make it happen. I sincerely appreciate your hard work.

  12. Given the economic climate and the need to stop duplicating efforts, I think it is time for it to happen. I have two concerns:

    1. There needs to be a knowledge community for mental health/counseling

    2. There needs to be a “home” for identity based groups such as professionals with disabilities, multicultural, etc.

  13. I am writing as an individual member with some insights as a past leader of a constituent group.

    First, I’d like to state that I am pleased to hear that unification is being actively explored and hope that, despite the structural challenges and emotional attachments members may have within each organization, we can find an effective way to move forward with a common voice. Transparency and timely communication is going to be essential through this process, as I know you are aware. It is going to be important for members and leadership to understand the “why” as well as the “how” throughout the process.

    I think foremost on everyone’s mind is how will the unification process affect constituent groups and structure, which I see as directly related to how long the unification process may take. Without some sense of how long the process might take, we don’t know how to strategically plan. How should we work with our counterpart in our sister organization and what should we be discussing at this stage in the process? How do constituent groups without counterparts in the sister organization proceed? How can constituent groups make recommendations to the governing boards that is constituent group specific? How will voices of constituent groups as well as individual members be heard? How will the new structure for the new organization be decided?

    Equally important is to answer “why” to help ease anxieties. Why will the unification take the amount of time projected? Why have some of the concrete decisions not been made about structural changes? Why are decisions being made the way they are?

    Please remember to include – as frequently as possible - the voices of your current leadership beyond the governing boards. Regional, state, international, commission, standing committee and knowledge community leaders understand their unique functional challenges and constituent needs; and can provide a lot of insightful guidance throughout the process. Communication must be a two way street, so even as you, the governing boards and task force are sharing information with us about discussions you are having at your level, also continue to actively seek the advice and guidance of the leadership at all levels of each association for they can help us all to understand what might work and what might not in practice – and each constituent group has something unique and different from other constituent groups that cannot necessarily be lumped together. Even if you have to have someone meet individually with each group, the inclusion of those voices is going to be essential to this process. Bring them to the table before decisions are made whenever possible and help them to understand what the unification process would entail in as many concrete details as you can provide with a rationale for what is happening.

    Perhaps each constituent group can be charged with providing a written “report” or “recommendation” – together with their sister organization counterpart if one exists – regarding :

    1. what they see as the current trends, issues and needs within their functional area/identity group
    2. what types of activities are necessary for the professional development, education, competency, and participation of members of that constituent group
    3. with whom they need to foster relationships outside of the new organization (other national organizations who specialize or corporate partnerships) and
    4. what type of structure may be necessary to address their constituent group activities/needs
    5. how they might move beyond current structures and perhaps unify beyond their counterpart in the sister organization, if one exists (For example, I could see ACPA’s wellness commission, substance abuse prevention commission, athletics and rec commission, counseling & psych services commission, and spirituality task force discussing with NASPAs counterparts the most effective way to address comprehensive wellness issues in a new organizational structure).

    I’m sure you will receive a range of responses to the move toward unification, and I hope the majority of it will be positive. I think you’ll find that most people are supportive of it in theory. The devil is in the details. People are going to want some idea of how long the unification might take (even if it is a loose projection) and why, as many concrete answers as possible to ease their anxieties about what it means on a functional level, and also to be included in the decision making process as often as possible.

    Thank you for your consideration and best wishes.

  14. I am writing to ask how unification would impact knowledge communities, standing committees, and commissions? I know this question has several layers, but how might leadership of these different groups meld if at all, and how might we handle divergences in missions/visions across the different groups? Though unification may happen after my tenure [in my leadership role], I would like to be able to provide those who follow with some indication of what could be expected of them during such a transition. Thank each of you very much for this opportunity to ask questions.

  15. Thank you both for the communication out to the membership regarding the question of unification between ACPA and NASPA. I fully recognize that we need to be very deliberate in how the two organizations look at this important question. As you know, however, this question has come up before and there is a common belief in the membership that we could not move forward on this question a few years back because
    although the membership may have felt strongly to unify, one or both executive boards did not support the move. There was also a lot of speculation why either of the boards did or did not support unification, all which are moot given this current activity. Though, with that belied widely held, some of us are concerned about the process outlined.

    Although it is well intentioned, we believe it may in fact be flawed. Here is the basis for this assertion, though our assertion has absolutely no bearing on any member of the review group. The process outlined states that the two organizations will look closely at this matter and based upon their findings make a decision on whether to put to the members a vote on unification. Currently, there is a strong belief in members from both groups that a vote on unification will never be put to the membership. The basis of this sentiment seems to be a belief that both organizations have leaders with such strong feelings towards their own culture and such expressed disdain for the other organization, that they will insure the body studying this question will never recommend a vote to occur. People who have strong affiliation to a group often cannot fully engage in the activity proposed here. Some of us would recommend that the body studying this question on unification (a) fully disclose its findings to the membership of both bodies (many of us are members of both organizations), including a full SWOT analysis of the findings and then (b) let the membership of both organizations decide.

    Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to the work that will occur on this important question.

  16. I applaud the work of the Task Force and fully support unification efforts and agree that there should be one voice for the profession. I believe one organization can keep the best of both ACPA and NASPA and be all the stronger for it by not competing and through realizing operating efficiencies.

    I have been a member of both NASPA and ACPA for close to 25 years (with a couple of years missing in the middle during a break in my career). Although my current role is broader than student affairs work, my roots are in the profession and it is the professional development I gained from both organizations that allowed me to grow in my career. Earlier in my career I had the opportunity to be active at the state (ACPA) and regional (NASPA) levels, volunteering and presenting at conferences, and serving on the directorate of a commission (ACPA). These experiences have been invaluable and I encourage staff to be involved as part of their professional development as well.

    I share this because I believe there are many professionals in the field who have long been members of both organizations, or who have had to chose one or the other (due to costs) even if they found value in both. It has long been a frustration to pay dues and maintain a membership in two separate professional organizations for student affairs. Because I valued both, I have done so anyway. Even when actively engaged in both organizations, I had to chose which annual convention to attend each year. It wasn't feasible to attend both (costs and time away from campus). I tried to attend each every other year, but often the decision was based on closest location and lowest total costs of travel. The resulting competition is compounded for those who are also active members of more specialized organizations such as ACUHO, AACRAO, etc...

    As the Task Force and governing bodies of both organizations move forward, I urge you to keep the following in mind:

    - Maintain multiple opportunities for active involvement of members at all levels, but especially for new professionals and graduate students to become involved - it is critical to their professional and career development.

    - Maintain publications that are high in quality of articles for both research and practice (not necessarily hard copy - online is easier to search and access, more cost effective, and green).

    - Ensure a strong state or regional structure to provide leadership opportunities and more local professional development opportunities.

    I look forward to future updates on the unification process and I look forward to an opportunity to vote in favor of it as a member of both organizations.

  17. I hope that you are both doing well. I read the midpoint report and all of the great information that has been put together on this important discussion. I chose to wrote back to this email since I am a member of both organizations and in many ways, take part in both organization differently. I very much value my membership in each organization and the opportunities it has afforded me, and many others.

    First and foremost, I think unification is something that needs to happen for our profession. Student Affairs is too vital of a piece of the college experience to not be represented by one umbrella organization. I understand there will be lots to consider, and opposition along the way, but I commend you both for taking this important step.

    I wanted to share a couple of thoughts for how I am active in each organization differently. I thought that it may be helpful as you and your committees consider the best way to consolidate efforts.

    1. Conferences. While I have actively attended both, over the past several years I have only attended the NASPA annual convention, including the joint conference in Orlando. While both are great opportunities, I have chosen NASPA primarily due in large part to the time of year (earlier March is easier to travel than April) and the placement exchange. The alignment of ACUHO-I and NASPA has created a unique placement exchange which I feel offers more candidates to view, yearly.
    2. Publications. While I have searched both sites and journals, the Journal of College Student Development by ACPA is easier to navigate and tends to offer more archival articles.
    3. Costs. Having one organization would hopefully afford all of our institutions and some of our younger professionals the opportunity to know which organization to belong to and more importantly, to do so for a little less money. Belonging to two organizations is expensive but I have always felt that I did not want to choose- both ACPA and NASPA have been voices for our profession.

    I also wanted to say that I would be very interested in being involved in any way that you feel would be helpful. I have just about completed my PhD and am ready to be more active in our organizations, besides the obvious of of presenting at conferences.

    Again, I hope these thoughts are somewhat helpful. Best wishes and thank you for the communication and progress.

  18. As a recent grad student who enters his first job in student affairs in a week, receiving the letter tonight was quite interesting. I wanted to take a few moments and respond with my initial thoughts, looking at this again from the point of view as a new person in this field.

    I'm taking a position at a community college. One thing that has struck me as a concern, is the separation in some respects of two year from four year colleges and universities. Due to the growing need for affordable and what some would call transparent education, it is my hope that the unification effort, would help to not only focus on the great things that make ACPA and NASPA what they are organizationally, but allow for some of the talent within the two organizations to reach out to other groups within higher ed that have had a smaller voice. These would naturally include community colleges around the United States and similar colleges globally who have membership within the organizations.

    While I personally was not involved greatly as a graduate student in either organization, I did attend the Job Placement Exchange at NASPA in Seattle, there are many great opportunities that I feel would be to our benefit as a profession from a united front. First, we are able to use a united voice to tell the story of what we do in higher education and provide meaningful reason to political leaders and other public interest groups, as to the need and critically important role education has played in our past, present, and future.

    Second, it allows for opportunities to be identified in terms of areas of campus life that might not have been as discussed within individual organizations and the direct impact those areas have on student affairs. When I speak of this, I'm thinking of the divide that I see on some campuses between major areas such as student affairs, financial aid, and academic departments. I can personally testify for instance, to the need to withdraw for major medical care last year from graduate school, yet there was only one day to withdraw, July 14, 2008, which was my surgery day. Any earlier and I would have had major issues with financial aid, any later and the issues were with the academic side of the university, problems that are better addressed if all units such as these are working in concert with set guidelines and practices that can be enhanced by an united student affairs profession that is not in competition with itself, much less other stakeholders. This united effort can then establish best practices with other organizations that set policies and recommendations for areas of campus that are some times outside student affairs and work with national membership from organizations that deal with financial aid, academic advising, international students, among others.

    Third, this united front allows for easier access to members around the community of higher education to bring awareness about certain critical issues that will impact everyone at some time down the road. As a person with a disability, I've noticed just on the few campuses I've visited, large differences in physical accessibility issues and being someone who is blind, technology and access to such resources is very different from one campus to another. A joint working group of professionals in the student affairs arena, will allow for a more congruent set of processes to be in place to deal with such issues.

    Ultimately in my view, a united organization has many positives and while I know there are those who are worried about their jobs due to duplication of responsibilities, I believe with the proper strategy, we can come together with a solution that prevents the loss of any job and better utilizes the existing and future talent with each organization, to better allow us to tackle even larger and unforeseen problems that we will encounter in the months and years ahead professionally.

    If I may borrow a sports analogy, the old AFL and NFL were in serious competition with one another and it was when the two leagues joined as one in 1970, that professional football and ultimately the Super Bowl became the huge cultural land mark that it is in our society today. While the ACPA and NASPA competition is not like that of the AFL and NFL, we clearly in my view have a lot more to gain working together than we lose, while doing all that can be done to maintain the unique cultures and traditions of both organizations.

    As I close, one thing that I would recommend, purely as a recent graduate who is just joining the field, is to look at a committee of current grad students and new professionals who are just entering the field or who have held a job in a related capacity for less than three years. We can bring another perspective through these critical discussions, as to what we have enjoyed and wished was different about our professional and educational experiences, providing important information that these two incredible organizations can use to better support the future members of our profession. A critical area that has been and must get continued attention is what we are doing and what can be done better in the preparation programs for professionals in our field and that is one area I believe strongly a united front could perhaps help more than ever. As a new grad two years ago, I thought there is a student affairs way, not just a ACPA way and a NASPA way and this united front is something I would gladly welcome.

  19. The name selected for your email address really says it all. It is time that student affairs professionals and their two primary professional associations present themselves with a common voice in as many areas as possible. I am an advocate for a single organization, but recognize that this may be either impossible or not immediately practical. Therefore, I support any and all steps taken to unify our efforts, reduce duplication, and draw more successfully from the power of our collective membership.

  20. I’ve thought for years that the redundancy in the two organizations has been problematic both from an access perspective as well as cost. Please unify. There are plenty of other organizations in the country that are as big as a combined organization would be. A common resource and a common voice!

  21. Having served on two committees (ACPA) over my 65 years of membership in both associations, whose purpose was to explore a possible among ACPA and NASPA, it heartens me to read of your work thus far on this same matter, and especially the systematic approach to the resolutions of problems associated with such action.

    You are to be commended for your dedication and labors in this regard and with my fervent hopes that sometime before my departure from this earth you will succeed, and in the new form of a singular association be in a better position to provide leadership to our professional field and to better serve the educational needs of American college students and their institutions.

    If you are like me, the last thing you need is more e-mail, so I will keep this brief.

    I have read with great interest the movement for possible unification of our associations, and I know such a move is fraught w/administrative land mines and pot holes – not to mention the emotional aspects of such a move – but my view is “forge ahead”. As a longtime member of both associations, I have felt this way for many years, and, should the associations want members to do work – on subcommittees, etc. – I’m willing to lend a hand. Know that I would be coming into any discussion as a proponent of unification.

    Thanks for providing the e-mail opportunity to offer thoughts. And for your leadership of our associations. I don’t know how you do it, given your jobs, families, etc. A tip o’ the chapeau to each of you…

    Good luck as we start another academic year.

  22. I am sure you are receiving many emails so I will keep it brief. I believe it is time to create a new comprehensive association that brings together the membership and programs of ACPA and NASPA. I realize that merging the two associations into a new association is a very complex process but it is one that will strengthen our voice within and beyond our student affairs community. I believe that it is unproductive to continue to operate with what often feels like a competitive relationship between the two associations. As a profession, we are frequently talking about the need for greater unification and blurring of lines between divisions on campus; maintaining the separation between our two associations does not seem to role model the type of approach we are espousing for our own campuses. In addition, it is difficult for us, from a practical and financial point of view, to pay for the membership the two associations, attend placement at both conferences, and attend/present at both conferences. We often feel the pressure to contribute to and participate as active members in both associations because we want to reach as many colleagues in student affairs as possible. One of my favorite experiences relating to professional development through ACPA/NASPA in my career thus far was the joint conference in Orlando. That conference provided the best opportunities for networking, education, and for finding top notch candidates through placement. This is what our future should be like.

    I am very much in favor of unification and sincerely hope that the leadership of both associations can reconcile differences and find a way to come together with one voice.

    Thank you and I wish you the best of luck!

  23. Having been a member of both organizations for over 25 years, I would agree that they appear more similar than not. What I have found is choice - which city do I prefer to visit for the annual conference - who has the better keynote speakers - which is cheaper - where is there an opportunity for me to easily volunteer and get involved. Although ACPA tends to be more heavily focused on diversity topics and current research, NASPA offers higher level (SSAO) topical discussion. Both are good at serving the practitioner.

    In today's economy and as higher education begins to become leaner, I don't feel having the luxury of choice will be available. With my budget trimmed significantly, I will now have to select an organization to be loyal to and make a sole commitment. For that reason, I am supportive of combining ACPA and NASPA - take the best of both organization and create the premier professional organization in higher education - the organization that is exclusively committed to student success.

    Thank you for asking for feedback from our membership.

  24. I appreciate the leadership that both of you are providing to the question of the future of student affairs associations. The present draft report is not earth-shaking; however, it does state in clear and concise ways the dilemma that we face – how to overcome a substantial history of separation and competition between ACPA and NASPA?

    I understand why it was important for the Task Force to back up to establish a vision for Student Affairs before it jumped into the issue of associations. I am pleased that the vision recognized the 1937 SPPV and its contemporary relevance. The bullet points under “Today’s Vision” seem to me to be a combination of the learning-centered focus of ACPA and the administrative focus of NASPA. Combining these perspectives into the points is a good way to demonstrate that both ACPA and NASPA perspectives are valued and necessary. However, the vision statement and the bullet points don’t really establish a new “Future of Student Affairs.” I hope that, as you move forward, that the vision is not portrayed as new but simply a combination of views that have been important to us from the start; let’s build on our solid foundation rather than spinning the vision as if it is a new and improved perspective.

    In my estimation, the only thing holding ACPA and NASPA back from joining forces is the inertia of past perspective and stake-holder pride in both associations. I am a “senior” in the field and hope that all of us, regardless of number of years of experience, can move on to form one voice for the field. A completely new name should be chosen for this new association and both ACPA’s and NASPA’s historical contributions to Student Affairs should be affirmed as we make our way to the new organization. I hope that decisions can be made and transition plans established to create the new comprehensive student affairs association for 2012. Three years is plenty of time to figure this out and there’s a nice symmetry to the 75th anniversary of the SPPV being marked by one unified professional association that will secure the role of student affairs in higher education’s future.

    I look forward to watching as your work continues. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  25. It makes sense for the two organizations to merge. Additionally, with a merger taking place and having a unified and larger membership base it would be nice if this one unified organization could sponsor two separate conventions. An east coast and a west coast. I feel that each might get a larger attendance than having them both in the same geographic region of the country. This is especially true due to the current state of the economy and the costs of travel. It's easier to travel a short distance than to have to buy a flight across the country, and makes our a major part of our organization's professional development component more accessible to a broader audience.

  26. Good to get your letter and to read the mid-point report. A quick email as I get ready to greet arriving student staff this evening:

    I am so pleased to know that we are – as a profession – setting aside some of the competition and pettiness that has long been harbored and moving forward to what we collectively believe will be best for our future and our students.

    Know that there are several voices from here in [the midwest] who are thrilled that headway is being made by Vasti and Jan and the TF – and that the staffs of both highly valued organizations are cooperating. I hope that the collective spirit and goodwill doesn’t get drown in the details that are bound to emerge.

    As a loyal dual-member and on behalf of my staff, I send my thanks, encouragement, and support for these efforts.

    Best to you both.

  27. My good friends, simply, thank you.

  28. Greetings from from a current member of both ACPA and NASPA.

    I am a student affairs faculty member, and I enjoy membership benefits in both. I think unifying your organizations would be A WONDERFUL THING. It makes perfect sense. Both of your annual conferences are typically held in March, and I can only attend one conference. I know that many of my colleagues are opting to only join one of your organizations, especially in these tight budgetary times. The mission and good works that you do are very similar and it is time to present one strong voice for student affairs.

    It would be great to combine your resources and make an organization that is bigger, better and stronger as you move forward into the 21st century. Please unite!

  29. I love the idea of the unification of ACPA and NASPA into one organization! Since I started graduate school (1996) I have been a member of ACPA because I felt more of an identification with that organization, however, each of the three universities I have worked at since then have been NASPA members (or at least placed an emphasis on NASPA). The purpose and mission of the two groups are so similar that it only makes sense to go forward with this plan. It would eliminate the confusion new professionals have as two which of the two groups to join, what are the advantages of one over the other, how to afford to attend placement at both conferences, etc. I like the idea of all of us nationwide being united under the umbrella of one major organization. The only concern I have is the size of the joint meeting each ten years is so large we only seem to be able to consider venues that are extremely expensive for members to attend and stay at (Gaylord in Orlando). With the way our budgets in California have been significantly cut the last two fiscal years in a row now, the more limited our professional development funds will be to attend these important gatherings.

  30. Best news I’ve heard since entering the profession.

  31. It's really quite simple to explain why I do not support unification. I have attended both conferences, and I fear that the openness and celebratory feeling that comes with ACPA as well as the openness to graduate and undergraduate students that is part of ACPA will both disappear if unification occurs. I do not find these to be important climate elements in NASPA.

  32. I strongly support the notion that Student Affairs should be represented by one organization. It is definitely time to unite NASPA and ACPA. Unfortunately, this should have occurred 10 years ago!

  33. This sounds like a wonderful idea. I am a new professional (in my second year in a professional position) but I enjoy seeing colleagues and mentors that are part of both ACPA and NASPA. In grad school we talked multiple times about the separate organizations and their relative merits, but it did really seem like we were giving up something to be part of only one. Similarly, I have gravitated towards ACPA, but my supervisor is heavily involved in NASPA, so I don't get to see her presentations.

    I certainly understand there will be some turmoil for folks that are heavily invested in and attached to one organization or the other, but from my corner of the world, I think a joint organization is wonderful idea I fully support.

    That is my two cents, from the bottom of the totem pole! However, if there is any meeting or board in my region (the Northeast!) that I can be a part of to assist in this decision, just let me know.

  34. Although there could be many challenges with unification---I'm thrilled that there is such support for this brave, bold step. Shoot we've been discussing substantive associational collaboration since I've been in the profession---which is more than a few decades!!

    From a process perspective, I'm a little concerned that if some assurances about containing costs, retaining services, and respecting the current associational cultures are absent, some of our colleagues will begin to envision the worst. I'm wondering if the associations could borrow from a business model and hire a consulting firm from outside student affairs to do a thorough assessment of what services and programs are essential. Further, there are many in our profession who are not members of either ACPA or NASPA. If these perspectives are also addressed, we may find important emphases for future marketing of a unified association.

    You may ask why I think it's important to have assessment done by outsiders---I think those of us who've been around for decades often make assumptions that lack validity. I know that universities and colleges who want to "rebrand" themselves often look to outside marketing firms for data-driven suggestions. I think it would be helpful for us to think about this type of best practice.

    THANKS for all of your diligent and courageous work.

  35. I cannot think of two better people to be serving as presidents of ACPA and NASPA and to be providing leadership in this venture. I appreciated [others] comments and have the same difficulty responding to the same questions from our graduate students and young professionals. It is time that the two organizations come together as one. We need a single voice for student affairs in higher education in Washington and the world. Keep up the outstanding work and know that I support all your efforts.

  36. Very nice message…it is good to be connected with you!!!!

  37. Thanks to both of you for your leadership and courage on this issue. I understand this is a complex issue and difficult discussion, but a necessary one. I truly hope we can work out the issues and details to facilitate a smooth merger of the two organizations.

  38. After more than 20 years being torn between both professional organizations, this Task Force and its discussion of unification of the two organizations is more than a breath of fresh air - it's a full blown wind!

    Thank you for being the two leaders who resist the temptation to see the task as too monumental and the two organizations as too different historically and culturally to be able to find common ground. You must be the right people in the right place at the right time. As someone who cannot personally or as a leader of my department afford to send staff to both organizational conferences and for our department in particular - to both ACPA and NASPA's assessment institutes - we see discussions about unification as imperative for the profession and practical for professionals.

    Thank you again for endorsing and leading the effort.

  39. Please do it! I look forward to the unification of the associations!

  40. I feel you are just the right 2 guys at the right juncture in these 2 orgs development to lead this discussion. I really appreciate your leadership in bringing forward this issue and giving it the proper vetting at the leadership level as well as certainly the member level.

  41. Already member of NASPA and AHEAD. Just thought you would like to know I just joined ACPA too, per my suggestion at the AHEAD meeting we had with ACPA and AHEAD execs. Now will look for professional opportunities to continue to link our groups together. Would love to be involved in scholarly pursuits like the AHEAD JPED.

  42. AMEN! This is long overdue. As a graduate student in College Student Personnel 30+ years ago, there was actually a discernible difference between the two organizations. NASPA was perceived as being a little more stuff shirt and less progressive while ACPA seemed to have a larger umbrella that readily embraced a more diverse constituency that included the rank and file. Over the decades, those distinctions gradually faded and it truly is difficult to justify maintaining two separate organizational structures.

    As a University Ombuds, I am a member of the International Ombudsman Association (http://www.ombudsassociation.org/) which was formed by a merger of the The Ombudsman Association (TOA) with the University and College Ombuds Association (UCOA). Suffice to say, the challenges presented by that merger were definitely more formidable than those presented by a marriage of ACPA and NASPA. (TOA had more of an international flavor from business and government while UCOA was academic primarily from North America.) If they could do it in relatively short order, we can too! Here’s one emphatic vote to keep this initiative and unification proposal on track!

  43. Thank you for your openness to considering a unification of ACPA and NASPA. After being a member of both organizations, I see a number of benefits to having one comprehensive student affairs association. These have been articulated well in the Task Force report from July 2009 so I will not duplicate them here.

    I am simply writing to affirm that I believe one association is in the best interest of student affairs, the best interest of student affairs educators, and most importantly, in the best interest of our students.

    Thank you for making this issue a priority and establishing methods for members to provide their input and thoughts.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

ACPA and NASPA: Exploring a Common Voice by NASPA and ACPA presidents (joint letter)

For decades, ACPA and NASPA have both existed to serve the student affairs profession with research, professional development opportunities, public policy information, and services for campuses and members. Both associations are proud of this legacy of meeting the needs of our shared profession.

In 2008, the leadership of both associations charged the Task Force on the Future of Student Affairs to envision the future of the profession and recommend how to strategically achieve that future. In the first year, the Task Force members focused on creating a Vision and Principles statement that could help unite the profession. Once that task was completed, the Task Force then focused on how the profession could effectively achieve that shared vision.

As the Task Force engaged in this process, it became clear to them that it was difficult to complete their charge without researching the infrastructure issues that come with two comprehensive student affairs associations. Thus, the Task Force recommended that the governing bodies of both associations charge the executive directors to explore the opportunities for structural alignment. In their respective spring meetings, the governing boards so charged the executive directors. The executive directors reported at the recent summer leadership meetings that they were able to identify many areas of potential structural alignment and financial efficiencies.

The executive directors and Task Force Chairs also had informal conversations with sister student affairs associations and received favorable responses from these colleagues regarding the work of the Task Force. The observation was made often regarding the potential strength of "one common voice" for the profession. It is in this context that the Task Force provided a mid-point report this summer to the leadership bodies that provided a preview of their work and recommendations. At the heart of their report is a draft of a statement of Vision and Principles for Student Affairs and a set of recommendations that endorse the concept of one organization that coordinates and represents the student affairs profession; and articulates the governing bodies' responsibility to drive this process to explore unification.

In response to this mid-point report, both governing bodies acted upon the following motion:

"The Board received, and considered favorably, the initial recommendations of the Mid-Point Report of the Task Force for the Future of Student Affairs and commends it to the membership for further discussion."

Both associations are now at the point where we will engage in open dialogue with our respective memberships to consider the Task Force's report and especially the question of whether or not to bring unification to a vote. This fall will be used to seek member feedback on this topic. As both associations discuss the future of the profession and the question of the unification of ACPA and NASPA, we want to hear your voices. We invite each of you to review the Mid-point Report from the Task Force for the Future of Student Affairs. The report is located online at:

www.myacpa.org/unification and www.naspa.org/unification

After reviewing this document, we want to hear what you have to say. Please direct your comments to one of the three emails listed below:

ourcommonvoice@gmail.com - (read by both Tom and Mike)
msegawa@naspa.org - (read by Mike)
acpaprez@gmail.com - (read by Tom)

NASPA members also have the option of participating in an online dialogue with colleagues within the members-only section of the NASPA website. Simply log in, click on "Discussions," and view the "Current Issues" discussion area.

The governing bodies of ACPA and NASPA have taken unprecedented steps to openly discuss the future of the profession and a possible unification of the two comprehensive student affairs associations. However, this is just one step in a complex and consultative process. The respective governing bodies also endorsed the establishment of a unification exploration team (consisting of the current, past, and incoming presidents, and executive directors of both associations), as well as the selection of a consultant to work with the team and legal counsel through this current process to explore unification. In the coming weeks we will work diligently to keep you informed as this process unfolds. There is much to do as we deliberately design a process to hear your voices and explore the future of our profession and associations. We look forward to hearing your perspectives on this important topic.

Written by Mike Segawa (NASPA President 2009-10 and Tom Jackson, ACPA President 2009-10

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Life as an SSAO and ACPA President
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

Yesterday was a wonderful day. It was a day filled with the usual items that I must deal with as a Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) and a day filled with the usual items I must deal with as President for ACPA. It was a fun "crashing together" of lots of "stuff." As I reflected on my day yesterday it inspired me to write about it in this blog.

Being a VPSA is mostly joyful. It is joyful when one is surrounded by wonderful colleagues and a supportive team. I have that at the University of Louisville, so most of my days are truly joyful. Being ACPA President is mostly joyful also. It is humbling to know that my words, as your President, resonate beyond our U.S. borders. It amazes me that our collective efforts can inspire better learning environments for our students, improved opportunities for our colleagues, and better policies globally. As President, I am surrounded by some wonderful colleagues, so most of my days are truly joyful.

Yesterday, as VPSA, I had the pleasure of meeting with one of my new doctoral interns, working with another VP as our teams collaboratively work on several projects together, I listened (in my office) to a passionate student who is attempting to change the concealed carry laws on campus and in the state, was part of a strategic media meeting discussing how we will address a matter in Student Affairs (one that I must be the public point person on), and I received roughly 70 emails (but I sent roughly 35). Poor Greg Roberts, I probably sent 20 to him! He and I also spoke on the phone twice and I also was part of a Corporate Strategy Conference call with several others (talking about how we utilize our ACPA corporate friends). Today, so far, has been very similar. I met with my faculty friends and a representative from Liberia as we consider expanding our award-winning and internationally known service-learning program. I also had lunch with another faculty and dear colleague (Dr. Michael Cuyjet) and a new friend (the college roommate of another ACPA colleague who put us all together since we didn't know we lived in the same city). This afternoon I will return phone calls and work on ACPA stuff.

Meeting with that doctoral intern was clearly my highlight. It is so easy to reflect back to when the roles were reversed and it was me, sitting there talking to the VPSA, eager for experience and opportunity. To me, that is the true essence of the work I do, helping our students.

That was my day as VPSA. Honestly, my day as ACPA President blended right into my role as VPSA. Really, an email is an email some days since, like all of you, I have a fixed amount of time in my day and my ability to respond to work and ACPA are limited by so many other factors. Still, yesterday I probably spent three hours on ACPA related items between phone calls, emails, and projects. Today will likely be another three hours. That is the norm these days.

A couple days ago I looked at my list of items we are working on in ACPA. I had 34 items on that list before a few more items entered my head. Now certainly I am not working on these items alone. In fact, most of these items I just have to be aware of since we have an incredible volunteer network that continues to try and improve our association hourly. Still, some of these items are more cumbersome to manage or understand than others. Here is some of that list:
  1. Convention placement budget
  2. Collaboration with other associations
  3. Task Force on the Future of Student Affairs
  4. Future convention locations
  5. Strategic goals
  6. International summit
  7. Follow-up with CACUSS (Canada) and CTLPA (Caribbean) associations
  8. Veterans agenda items
  9. Corporate relations
  10. Exhibits at convention
  11. Boston 2010 updates
  12. New association marketing strategies
  13. ACPA/NASPA competencies
  14. Professional research agenda
  15. Enough is Enough - Campus violence
  16. Boston collaborative programs (Cultural Fest and SCM)
  17. Web page improvements
  18. Publications
  19. ACPA President Developments article (I have to write it for the next issue)
  20. Diamond honoree promotions assistance
  21. Future face to face Governing Board meetings
  22. International Office staffing
  23. Working with ROTCs as an association
  24. ACPA study tours
  25. Deciding which activities of the association I can attend next fall
  26. Updating LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook pages
  27. Preparing for this Fridays monthly "public chat on AIM"
  28. Working with specialty colleges
  29. Determining what we need to do to establish our International Hispanic Leadership Institute
  30. Setting the Summer Leadership Meeting (SLM) schedule
  31. Setting the SLM Governing Board agendas (we have FIVE Governing Board meetings)
  32. Keeping up with developments in membership and placement implementation committees
  33. Addressing member concerns
  34. Staying up on Job Target implementation (new placement software)
  35. Discussing/Approving the ACPA Equity Statement
  36. Convention shell discussions
  37. Sustainability efforts
  38. Honoring retired faculty or recently deceased members
That seems to be the list as I recall it today. I am sure there are another ten items I have left off, and there are some emerging that might make that list the next time I blog about this subject.

I share these thoughts and this list to provide each of you some insight into my days not only as a VPSA but more importantly, as your ACPA President. Serving in both positions is rewarding and very meaningful. Knowing the impact I can have on student success everyday is most rewarding and meaningful. Weeee!

Follow the ACPA President on Twitter (ACPAPREZ) for the most up to date information.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Our Best Friends - Lets call them our "Corporate Buddies"
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

ACPA is becoming one of the most "corporate friendly" associations out there. We really have good corporate friends that truly care about the work we are doing on our respective campuses. Let me first start by saying I cannot name them all. It isn't that I really can't name them all, it is that the moment I name one (or five) than I will have left off a few others. So rather than name companies, I will just talk about six people that I think are just awesome and the reason ACPA has become so corporate friendly. Lets call my buddies Howie, Teri, Andy, David, Bill, and Doug.

Now please, do not confuse these names with people you might think they are since that would be unfair to the real people they are. These are just names of people that I made up (for purposes of this blog). They also happen to care about the work we do. Let me share a few stories.

Last year at the Metro DC convention we had record participation in the Exhibits area. Not only were they great corporate partners, these were committed colleagues supporting the work we do. The fact that they were there, paying to be there, to support our work should tell us something. It is impressive when members of the association "make" time to visit with our corporate partners. We really should do that more. Think of all the things one can learn from walking the exhibit area, such as what new products or books are available or the latest trends in technology that supports our departments on campus. For the serious professional who wants to stay ahead of the game it helps to see the playbook. That playbook is the exhibit area. Our corporate buddies made that event happen.

Last year at Metro DC we had socials and activities that supported the work of our membership and corporate friends. Many of these activities were funded by our corporate partners and these were activities our membership participated in and enjoyed. I cannot imagine a convention without the presence of some of the companies we could easily take for granted if we were not more careful. Remember, I won't say the corporate names, but a convention without Howie, Teri, Andy, David, Bill, and Doug wouldn't be much fun.

Just recently one of my best friends, lets call him Andy, set up meetings for us so we could try and become new best friends with another corporate buddy. My bud Andy didn't have to do that, but he did it because he is committed to our student development work. ** I sound like my daughter telling me stories about her girlfriends at school! **

I always knew some of our research and programs were funded through the generous gifts of many people, including our corporate friends. It is amazing what generosity we have in our corporate buddies. Just a couple of years ago one of my other best friends stepped up and supported one of our signature institutes. This type of help really makes a difference. Not only does it help lower the costs to each of us (as practitioners and universities) but it also enables the association to advance our work in other ways and in other places.

Now my absolute "bestest" friend (as my daughter might say) is Teri. If Santa were a corporate friend they would rename him to Teri. Not only is this buddy full of ideas, she acts on those ideas. ACPA is so much better as an association because of her passionate work behind the scenes. She really makes a difference and is always finding ways to keep us progressive and foresightful.

ACPA is really fortunate to have such wonderful best friends. Next time you are at a convention and you happen to see a name tag on someone "looking" the corporate buddy type, slap your arm around them, thank them, and say, "Hi, I am ACPA and I am your other best friend." Weeeee.

Follow the ACPA President on Twitter (ACPAPREZ) for the most up to date information.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We have so much to discuss, lets chat?!

On Friday, June 12 from 11:00-11:30 a.m., we are hosting our 2nd public chat on AIM. There is no need to download any software. All one has to do is join me online. The URL will be:


During the chat please feel free to ask me anything. ACPA has so much happening. You have heard me say it before, ACPA is is an amazing association. "We have so much to discuss, lets chat?!" Weeeee!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Governing Board & the Association's Work
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

Twenty five years ago I really wasn't all that interested in what the ACPA Executive Council discussed during their meetings. Quite frankly, I was just happy to be employed as a newer professional, meeting new life-long friends, and getting a few presentations to build a resume.

Today I devote an enormous amount of time to what the ACPA Governing Board discusses. You should know that ACPA has come a very long way over the years and the Governing Board very rarely "dabbles" or "micro-manages." The ACPA Governing Board of today is more like the Board of Trustees on many of our campuses. We are very deliberate, strategic, focused, and disciplined. We carefully look at issues, try our best to stay true to process and the ACPA values, and value the membership's opinion. Personally I really enjoy being around such a diverse and dynamic group.

The people on the Governing Board have devoted a lot of personal time to ACPA. In the last two days I probably spent 10 hours working on ACPA items. I talked to the ACPA Executive Director twice and the Convention Chair three times. I swapped emails with dozens of members and even swapped emails with my good colleagues in NASPA. We share and collaborate a lot more than people think and have so much planned together. The Convention Chair (Robin Diana) easily put in a good 10 plus hours responding to ACPA issues as well. These are progressive issues, such as how to improve the convention, lower costs, improve technology, better promote the event, and so much more. It amazes me the devotion our membership has for ACPA and the willingness of individuals to share their time to make this an incredible association.

As the ACPA President I try to respect the time commitments of the Governing Board and other volunteers. I recognize that this Governing Board does not need to be deciding on issues that commission chairs, standing committee chairs, or state/international presidents should be handling. This perspective should be common on your campus. Does your President make departmental decisions? I would hope that directors get to handle departmental issues and most senior administrators allow for decision-making authority to exist at the lowest levels in the organization. While I know this isn't always true, I am trying to make sure our Governing Board stays focused on macro and strategic issues and the many other leaders within this association are afforded the opportunity to lead. As a former supervisor once said to me and her other supervisees, "See the potential and ask." She also said, "Lead. Don't wait to be told." I learned a lot from Kim D. West during my short time at the University of Southern California (1989-90).

As President my time during May and June is preparing for the Summer Leadership Meeting (SLM). This is where the chairs and state/international presidents come together to plan and train. The Governing Board meets FOUR times during this four day period. Naturally we cover a great deal of topics. I am trying to push through some issues in June so we can focus on the more challenging topics in July during SLM. We have only a few face-to-face meetings during the year and that time together is precious.

So what will the Governing Board talk about in June? Here is the running list:

  1. ACPA/NASPA Joint Futures Task Force
  2. ACPA Associate Executive Director Vacancy
  3. ACPA Budget
  4. ACPA Placement & Technology
  5. ACPA/NASPA Collaboration with Professional Competencies
  6. ACPA Anniversary Celebrations
  7. Developments (newsletter) and Editorial Board
  8. ACPA Convention Shell (what fixed events happen at convention)
  9. Corporate Sponsor Benchmarking
  10. Major Awards

What has been happening behind the scenes has been supporting the development and establishment of the International Association of Student Affairs Services (IASAS), taking a critical look at the role of specialty colleges, establishing our veteran services agenda, improving corporate relations, and supporting our many sister associations.

The pace required for the ACPA President TODAY is FAST. Things are real-time. Like our campuses, information and communication is often instant and frequent; and our membership, you, are curious. ACPA has a great group of people serving it in volunteer roles. I believe in each one of them and value their commitment to this association, your association, my acpa. Weeeee!

Follow the ACPA President on Twitter (ACPAPREZ) for the most up to date information.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Veterans Are More Than A Campus Number
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

This year (and this Memorial Day) was a little more unusual for me. Strangely this year a few more people "thanked" me for my service to the country. It felt odd for many reasons. Part of the reason it felt odd was simply I am not accustomed to being thanked for things too often lately. Vice Presidents (for Student Affairs) are not often thanked since we are often the ones thanking others. Many times the ACPA President only gets thanked when they are actually leaving office. As an adult child I don't recall thanking my Dad for too many things other than the car keys and money, but that was after a lot of effort and promises on my part. Today, as a parent the "thank yous" are not that frequent either. Let’s not even talk about being a spouse (G).

I guess being thanked for my military service, or being thanked for anything just seems odd. It is also strange since my service was not particularly memorable or earth shattering. Like many that have served their country in the military, we put in our time and feel honored to have done so. The truth is, however, I carry no amazing medals and you will not read about me in any history book.

We all love our country. We certainly love the perceived benefits of being an American Citizen and for some of us, seeing the U.S. flag still brings tears to our eyes. Having said this, what are many of us willing to do to preserve our way of life, to protect our freedoms, to defend the flag? I stated in my first presidential remarks that "veterans" are the most patriotic people one will ever meet. Think about it for just a moment. Veterans are those that put actions above words. They are those that stepped forward and said, "I will do it."

It was 1978 when I "signed" on the bottom line. It took months for the Coast Guard recruiter to sell me, and to his credit, he stayed with me. I had enormous pride when I signed. Several months later I took even greater pride when I finished nine weeks of "boot camp." I was a better person leaving "boot." I was certainly more fit, but I also was much smarter. I spent a lot of time in the classroom in all kinds of training. I left basic training for more school. Seven months later I graduated prepared to do all kinds of things, primarily search and rescue. Seven months! That was classroom training eight hours every day. Imagine if college were like that?!

As a small boat engineer I was the guy that made sure the boat was running properly. I also was the guy that put out fires and did whatever was needed on a small three-person search and rescue crew. That is right, if you were the unlucky one to have a boat stall, or a dock fire it might have been someone like me showing up in a small 41' utility boat. Today, these same "Coasties" must also deal with pirates and drugs. I feel fortunate I served when I did.

I don't think I was ever a great Coastie. I mean I had many successes, but I was a civilian at heart. I was a reservist so 28 days out of the month I was all things "non-military." For two days each month I suited up and did my service, knowing that at anytime I could be called up, required, told that I must drop everything else I was doing to serve my country full-time. I willingly did that since that was the deal and that was my perceived duty as a U.S. citizen. I felt honored and privileged to do it.

I still maintain contact with a very dear friend of mine from those days. We both went through basic training together and were roommates in Virginia during those seven months of schooling. He graduated first. I was seventh. He really knew his stuff and I benefited from it I am sure. I also have pictures from that time. I didn't say this earlier but I was also part of a slightly more elite parade and drill company for awhile. This meant that we traveled a little, spun rifles, marched in fancy formations, worked parades, carried the flag, and assisted at funerals. Those funerals were very humbling because we were honoring the fallen that had served longed before us. It also meant lots more work and training.

I can't imagine being in war like our some of our veterans today. Seriously. I mean I recall stopping boats late at night, not knowing what crazy things could happen out on the water. However, this was done in the U.S. and with some backup.

Our veterans today are very diverse. While we often see those serving in Iraq or Afghanistan on TV during a patrol or conflict, we often do not see the many in support of all these efforts. The technicians, the physicians, the educators, the repair personnel, and so many other trades all support our way of life. When we fly commercially it might be the air traffic controller that once served. The training they received in the military has been turned into a lucrative career. My point, it is not just what is seen on TV, although the pride may still be the same.

Whether one was in battle or "behind the lines" providing for those in battle, there is pride and honor in serving one's country. The flag means everything to a veteran. It often is second only to those brothers and sisters that one has served beside.

Our veterans returning to campus are more than a number. They are an extremely distinguished group of people. They are full of pride. They are extremely well trained. They are focused. They value service, loyalty, honor, patriotism, integrity, and intelligence. They have aspirations and represent the absolute best in humankind. They have willingly given of themselves for a much greater purpose at the potential loss of their own life. They are not a means for increased enrollment. In fact, one could make a case for the opposite. They have earned enrollment and represent the best in students, leadership, and civic duty. They are the people we want to have college degrees and the ones we want balancing the public good against individual self-interest.

ACPA, like other associations, will find a place for practitioners serving veterans on our campuses. We will find a place because we have found places for many other practitioners serving students in other capacities. It is the right thing to do. The challenge for ACPA, and the Student Affairs membership across the globe, is to build upon the best practices occurring on campuses today. These students (veterans) simply seek a chance. This chance they have earned, and because of how they earned it, we should give them every opportunity to succeed in this different and cumbersome educational process we call higher education. Give the veteran one solid year, one where they can trust and work with others like themselves, and society will get a college graduate a few years later. Just one solid and supportive year. Simplifying the admission process, totally revamping the transfer of credit process (don't get me started on this one), improving advising, and developing a "veteran friendly" campus is just some of what it will take to create the type of campus deserving of a veteran. Interestingly, these efforts will also improve campus life for all students.

I am a very proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, Texas State Guard, and Indiana Guard Reserve. On a day (Memorial Day) where we honor those many that have paid the ultimate price, I take great pride not in the thanks I may receive from others but my continued service to my country and the service men and women seeking college degrees. This is also one additional way you may serve your country today. Weeeee!

Follow the ACPA President on Twitter (ACPAPREZ) for the most up to date information.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Opportunity vs. Perception: Give me your thoughts
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

In the 25 years I have been a part of higher education I have observed many times a campus that acted cautiously instead of boldly in addressing an issue. Certainly there has been an occasion where I have observed a campus proudly stating a position even when it wasn't popular to do so. That has happened much less, but I have seen it.

ACPA struggles with this same dilemma at times. There are many, many opportunities that rightfully get balanced against perception (or sometimes self-interest). Some of these wonderful opportunities get squelched because of funding, but I am learning as your President, that we can often find the resources for things when opportunity and "positive" perception come together.

There is a perception that we are in an economic downturn. This is inevitable in the free market place and one of those necessary corrections. The downturn doesn't mean "nobody" has money, it just means we may not be "making" money in the speed or fashion we had been a year before. It doesn't mean our doors must close, or even that we must stop being innovative. It may simply mean that we have to more deliberately balance "perception" to opportunity.

Allow me to raise a couple of scenarios for you, as the blog reader, to consider. I invite you to email me at tom.jackson@louisville.edu (or acpaprez@gmail.com) with your reactions and insights.

International Agenda

It is well known that ACPA is an international association. Actually, more accurately, we are a strong national association with strong international interests. Student development research drives the global profession. Our many international practitioners are finding value in the professional development offered not only internationally, but locally within the United States. ACPA is represented in 27 other countries. The Caribbean has been actively involved in over a decade and has patiently waited for their association, ACPA, to show as much interest in the international agenda as they have in this association. So what am I saying?

Imagine. What message would it send if me, as your President, brought the Governing Board to the Mona campus (University of the West Indies) in Jamaica for our February Governing Board meeting? Allow me to give you just a little more context as you think about this complex question. The ACPA President does budget Governing Board meetings and I have already modified the budget to easily accommodate a Governing Board meeting at the Mona campus. This isn't about money. The cost is just slightly more than meeting in Washington D.C. and we have reduced costs in other areas. This is about opportunity vs. perception.

The perception might be that the Governing Board is off to some exotic place, playing, sitting on a beach, and having fun instead of doing the work of the association. The perception might be that we are cutting the budget, tightening the belt, and shifting resources -- how is it possible that we can even afford to bring the Governing Board abroad?

The perception could be, "Wow. ACPA is showing commitment to it's international members so much that it was willing to bring its leadership team to an international location, and meet at the campus of its first and longest standing international member." The international members would be ecstatic! We have an opportunity to do just this right now. I have already said I am willing to do this for all the right reasons, but I am also aware that with great opportunities sometimes come less than positive perceptions of the effort.

What are YOUR reactions and YOUR thoughts?

AIDS Memorial

ACPA has long held a very meaningful activity during the international convention. The AIDS Memorial was first introduced to bring recognition to our brothers and sisters that have died from AIDS. It also brought to the attention of the membership the importance of education, tolerance, collegiality, insight, awareness, and sensitivity to a difficult topic, AIDS. More than the symbolism of the event, the AIDS Memorial has spoken to the humanity in each of us. Was this an easy decision for ACPA to make at the time? Probably not. However, it was an example of opportunity and positive perception coming together.

For a few years now there has been some discussion about whether to modify this activity. The viewpoints cover a wide range. There are not many that would say they come to the convention solely for the AIDS Memorial, and there are likely no employers that would say they send staff to ACPA to attend the AIDS Memorial. But, we still do it and are proud of it. There have been emerging suggestions that the activity should be broadened to become a memorial ceremony for all practitioners that have passed. Where does opportunity and perception come together on a topic such as the AIDS Memorial?

What are YOUR reactions and YOUR thoughts?

There are many other examples of "opportunity vs. perception." Nearly anything new that is done, or anything that is changed goes through this same test. Give me your thoughts.

It amazes me the amount of work that goes into making ACPA an incredible volunteer association. Every person gives something of themselves to this association. Please know that your time, your interest, and your passion are not taken for granted. They are valued. Thanks for all you do. Take care. Weeeee!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

If You Have Questions, We Have Answers

On Friday, May 8 from 11:00-11:30 a.m., we are hosting a public chat on AIM. This originally was going to be on Skype, but with the new Skype 4.0, that feature was removed. Instead we will use AIM. There is no need to download any software. All one has to do is join me online. The likely URL will be:

(***Note the dash at the end***)

Do not hold me to that URL TODAY. Be sure to check this BLOG and/or TWITTER on Friday morning for the actual URL. Since this is the first one, I expect a few glitches that we will just have to work through as they arrive.

During the chat please feel free to ask me anything. ACPA has so much happening. You have heard me say it before, ACPA is is an amazing association. "If you have questions, we have answers." Ask away and I will chat with you Friday. Weeeee!

Monday, April 27, 2009

From Your ACPA President: ACPA as a Leader of our Global Profession
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

The past month has been a very rewarding and active 30 days. ACPA is involved and active in so many things – all of them clearly impact our large membership in many unique ways. In this “mail call” I hope to talk about some of ACPA’s international interests and our efforts to advance our global profession while partnering with other countries and associations to improve campus environments for our students.

ACPA has a responsibility to our students across the globe. As the profession’s leader, it isn’t just about the members or those working and residing in the United States. ACPA’s work is also critical to the success of our students outside of our borders. ACPA has institutional members from 27 different counties. These range from China to the Middle East, from South Africa to the Caribbean. Each of these countries brings a unique perspective to the association, yet so subtly, similar challenges on one’s campus. In many respects this speaks to the similarity of our students across the globe.

As a global leader it is ACPA’s expectation that we simply not reach out to countries to build membership. This is a very shallow and disingenuous approach that does little to serve the global profession. It is more the expectation of ACPA that we reach out to partner, to collaborate, to inspire and to learn from other countries. In our global efforts ACPA (like other associations) has learned that we do not always have the answer. In fact, many times the answers rest in the challenges (and solutions) that other countries have used. Take for example Housing and Residence Life. Taiwan and Hong Kong have very elaborate structures that house college students. While they may not have the depth of theoretical foundation that often comes with decades worth of scholarly research in student development, they do have simplicity – they are safe, feel like home, and are conducive to learning. They are every bit as well built, if not better built than many residence facilities on our colleges’ campuses today. Some also have incorporated “green” technologies or enable students to monitor or pay for utility usage in a manner some of our students in the United States could only wish to do. Some of these residence structures have used technology and engineering many in the U.S. would not have the resources to even try. Imagine building a residence hall on the side of a hill/mountain. Imagine, because space is such a premium, putting a full recreational soccer field with bleachers on top of the structure. Just imagine the engineering and creativity that went into a project of that magnitude.

ACPA will continue to work with our many friends across the globe to assist in developing country specific research and implementation strategies to best serve students. ACPA also will work to better improve the international environment on our respective campuses to become a place that feels safe and open to the influx of international students now attending our campuses. This is your ACPA and this is part of our value system. It truly is very interconnected. Weeeeee!

(Above photo taken overlooking Taipei, Taiwan from the academic/student services building at Lung Hwa University. Pictured are Dr. Jackson, Dr. Juing-Huei Su (Dean of Students), and his student affairs staff.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So What Does Tom and the Executive Director Really Talk About?
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

I have never been all that interested in the actual inner-workings of ACPA until I was actually "elected" as VP and knew I had to become a quick study. Do not get me wrong - I always knew things and took an interest in some items more than others, but the actual inner-workings; well, I just didn't need to know it all as a volunteer for what I was doing. Just like on our campuses, there is simply more happening than one truly needs to know. And, quite frankly, knowing more on campus hasn't particularly made me a better VPSA at times. As a VPSA I could never know everything, I just need to know you might know what I need to know at this particular moment. Is any of this making any sense?

As your President I get information from way too many places. Sometimes some of it makes sense. Many times I can be just as confused as other leaders. Most times I am interested and sometimes I simply know that this piece of information, while VERY important to someone, is not something I need to know at this particular moment. An example is often when something gets to me too soon, or it is something that really requires a decision by someone else in the leadership - a chair, state president, someone other than me. It may also be an item that needs Assembly discussion before Governing Board discussion -- stuff like that. It really isn't too different than what we deal with on campus.

Having said all of this, I acknowledge that my need to know may be lower than your need to tell me. So I am telling you things assuming your need to know may be greater than it needs to be. Smile. This is all good.

So when the ACPA President meets with the ACPA Executive Director, what do they talk about? We talk about many things - things often from our lists of action or discussion items we accumulate over the weeks. This isn't too different than your standard 1:1 you have with your staff or supervisor.

Some topics from my list are below. Please try not to "read into" the topics and please know I won't do this every week. Somethings are simply what they are - nothing more or nothing less. I share them with you and if you have any comment or are more curious about any of them - email me. Take care. Weeeeee!

1. Affiliations with other associations
2. International and Cultural Tour agendas
3. Placement
4. Corporate relations.
5. Upcoming Governing Board meetings.
6. Budget
7. Foundation
8. Association Committees

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mail Call – Message #1 from Your ACPA President
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

ACPA is hot right now. What a fantastic convention we had in Washington, D.C.

Allow me to thank each of you for not only being a member of ACPA, but also taking an active role in our shared profession. A long time ago a mentor of mine encouraged me to be active in our professional associations. His point was that we, as professional’s, must give back to this profession. Whether it is doing presentations, writing, serving on committees or some other activity is very important. It is what professional’s do. You shouldn’t have to think about giving to your profession – you just do it.

I learned a lot from that mentor – who today remains my dearest friend. This, in part, is why I need your help. It is one of my goals, as your ACPA President, to communicate with you in a way that not only informs you of current issues within ACPA and the profession, but also uses the technology available to us today. Currently the means to communicate to the membership are the regular articles in our different publications. I hope to explore several methods, including Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. Using my blog I hope gives you further insight into why certain decisions get made or how I may be approaching an issue that the association must address. My hope is you will see the many perspectives and ramifications that are often involved in the many different things that the President and ACPA must address.

Think about it for just a moment. ACPA has 20 commissions/task forces, 6 standing committees, 33 state associations, and 24 different countries that are members of ACPA. ACPA has roughly 8,200 members, all with a voice and an expectation. It is impossible to touch each person, but each President tries in some way. I am no exception. Your help in guiding me and participating in the association makes things much easier. I encourage you to follow me on Twitter, join me on my public chats, and actively shape our global profession. Below is a summary of my efforts to reach out to you.

Blog: acpa-president.blogspot.com
Twitter: acpaprez (the goal is 500 followers – win a prize!)
Facebook: American College Personnel Association
Web: myacpa.org
Skype: Monthly public chat the 2nd Friday of EVERY month at 11:00 a.m. EST.

In the coming days I will share with you more insights on the items we are currently addressing as an association. If you seek greater involvement – we can find ways to get you even more involved. In fact, next time you speak to a colleague have them join ACPA, too. ACPA, in many respects, is not that different than your campus employer. We are facing budget challenges, seeking ways to collaborate more easily with our sister associations, trying to improve and retain membership, and trying to advance our work across the globe. We have assumed the leadership role in trying to bring associations together to enhance our global profession. This includes identifying opportunities to enhance student development research abroad while assisting with professional development. We are also looking at ways to better utilize technology in our very popular and successful Placement Services. If you can imagine improvements you can bet we are thinking or talking about them now.

Your membership matters to me and ACPA. ACPA is an association that is progressive, responsive to trends, viable, and one that I hope provides you the type of information and opportunity to learn and improve your campus environment. After all, it is about students. Take care.