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: and

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: - (read by both Tom and Mike) - (read by Mike) - (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

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