Friday, September 24, 2010

Final Consolidation Report

On behalf of the Consolidation Steering Team and close to 100 engaged student affairs leaders from both ACPA and NASPA, I am pleased to share that the final consolidation report will be available to members the first part of October. I am grateful for the assistance provided by our colleagues to produce this document. The best resource for updated information may be found on the Consolidation page of the ACPA website.

Susan M. Salvador
President, ACPA
Vice President, Student Services
Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY

Monday, July 26, 2010

ACPA and NASPA in a Globalized Environment

I have always believed that the field of student affairs would be better served by one comprehensive association composed by merging ACPA and NASPA. Now that I work abroad in higher education, the critical importance of unification is even more obvious. I was unable to attend the 2010 ACPA conference but I did attend NASPA. Attending NASPA offered the opportunity for me to participate in one of the open forums on “Envisioning the Future of Student Affairs.” I commented at this form that those of us attempting to adapt student affairs in other cultural settings need a central, authoritative organization. It’s hard enough to explain student affairs work to colleagues in international settings without having to explain the historic evolution of the field and how two competing organizations ended up representing the field in the U.S.A. ACPA and NASPA histories are important and make sense to Americans who experienced the emergence of student affairs practice in the 20th century. However, there is little place for competition (and divisiveness) in the globalized environment of the 21st century, a time when coherent and purposeful focus is so key.

I was surprised by the lack of response to my comment at the NASPA forum, which led me to believe that the attendees may not have understood that the global community no longer revolves around the U.S.A. There are many more players in the global community and higher education is expanding more rapidly outside of the U.S.A. than it is inside it. Those of us advocating for the importance of student affairs in international settings are making a difference but we need the help of ACPA and NASPA and we need most of all for them to understand their global responsibility to provide a unifying worldwide voice. Neither ACPA nor NASPA are international organizations. As an international participant in Chicago with other Arabian Gulf colleagues at my side, I was embarrassed and had to apologize on numerous occasions for the lack of useful content or sensitivity in keynotes, introductions, and programs. I want to make it clear that this is not a criticism of NASPA; I am fairly confident that I would have felt the same way at ACPA. Both are equally negligent in understanding the importance of their role in the global higher education community.

Envisioning the Future of Student Affairs (February, 2010) recognizes the importance of globalization and the demand for higher education throughout the world as its first two points under “Today’s context on the future.” I doubt that the placement at the head of the list was an accident and I hope that this is reinforced as the unification considerations continue. Reference is also made in the report to student engagement and how it is impacted by student demographic diversity, a dynamic that is heavily influenced by the trend of students moving throughout the world among the U.S.A., Europe, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere to study. ACPA and NASPA have an opportunity at this critical juncture to bring great value to the international higher education community. However, if ACPA and NASPA members are unable to transcend their own vested interests, the rest of the world will likely define higher education without the important voice of U.S.A. student affairs professional associations.

Dennis C. Roberts, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice President for Education
Faculty and Student Services
Education Division, Qatar Foundation
past-President and former Senior Scholar

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Message from a Veteran

As a military veteran, reading Dr. Susan Salvador’s blog “Serving Our Military Heroes” I was pleased to learn that an organization such as ACPA is making our military veterans a priority. It also caused me to think about my experiences returning to the classroom and the challenges that are faced by other veterans that make the decision to pursue a college education.

I am a veteran of the first Gulf-War in the early 1990’s. I returned to earn both my undergraduate and graduate degrees upon completing my four-year enlistment. I have been in higher education for close to ten years now and every day work with college students including military veterans. I feel the combination of these experiences allows me to better recognize and understand the barriers many of our veterans, both young and old alike, face as they make this transition to the classroom. I also identify with the challenges we face as professionals in the field of higher education as each of us aim to best serve these students.

Recently, I met with a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I did not know he was a veteran until later in our meeting. His transcripts showed an academic performance that was less than stellar in his first attempt at college but after a several year break and subsequent return his grades showed dramatic improvement.

This student showed very little emotion and it was difficult to get a read on him. As I was attempting to learn more about him he shared little. As we discussed a gap in his education he revealed he was in the military and served in the war. He was very hesitant to do so. But his willingness to open up and share with me changed when I explained my background including my status as a veteran of the first Gulf War and my pursuit of education after serving in the military.

While I know my experiences in the military did not impact me to the degree as it has him, his willingness to discuss his situation instantly changed. He openly discussed the scars he bears from the war, the services he is receiving to overcome some of his barriers, and how his life has been impacted by what he witnessed and experienced during war. He became an entirely different person. He was open, engaging, and his level of confidence appeared to change instantly.

I share this story because I often wonder how I would have handled this situation if I was not a veteran? Would this student have opened up to me or given me the real opportunity to help him if I could not identify myself as a veteran? Would he have opened up to me if I was a veteran but did not serve during a time of war?

My experiences in the military are not as traumatic as this student’s were but I am guarded and often unwilling to divulge my status as a veteran of the first Gulf War. So I understand his reluctance to share his background. I can’t say for sure why but I never quite feel comfortable sharing this information.

How many other veterans are unwilling to share their background? How often do we encounter a student without ever realizing what burden they bear regardless of veteran status? What about their families… the father, the mother, the husband, the wife, the child, the brother, or the sister of those veterans who did not return or returned a different person? These are just some of the challenges those of us in higher education face every day.

I do not believe you have to be a veteran to assist a veteran. But I do believe we need to be sensitive, compassionate, and allow the student to move at his or her own pace through the process. I would like to say we must be empathetic but I am cautious to say this because sometimes it is too easily confused with pity. I can guarantee these heroes are not seeking pity. But we do need to recognize the sacrifices our veterans and their families make especially during a period of war or conflict.

Thank you for your commitment to our military veterans. It is organizations like ACPA, operating on a national and international level, which can make a difference. It is people like those who are members of ACPA and have a true desire to make a difference who will impact the successful transition of our military veterans.


US Gulf War Veteran

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Become Part of the Conversation

Greetings… Since assuming the role of President I have outlined the initiatives that I plan to focus on throughout the coming year. To view more detailed information on these initiatives you may link to an earlier blog post. They include:

1) Meeting the needs of student veterans of the armed forces and their families;
2) Learning and understanding more about community colleges, community college students as well as the faculty and student services staff working with these students;
3) Continuing the globalization of ACPA; and,
4) Strengthening our ability to serve students as their stresses and pressures challenge their success.

I am inviting you to become a part of this conversation. If your campus has been active in offering services or you have been involved in ways that address any of these areas please share at I would like to learn of these efforts and the related outcomes. Feel free to also include suggestions and/or ideas that have not yet been implemented—serving as good ‘food for thought’.

As our convention 2011 theme encourages: Be more scholarly… be more purposeful… be more insightful… be more thoughtful…yes-- be more of what makes you who you are!

Susan M. Salvador
President, ACPA
Vice President, Student Services
Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Serving Our Military Heroes

On Saturday, March 4, 1865, at his second inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of providing support and services for the veterans of the Civil War. Lincoln concluded his address in 1865 summarizing his belief that the United States should provide for those who served in the Civil War. He stated as a country the United States should “… care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan…”

Nearly 150 years later higher education is faced with this charge for our post 9/11 military veterans. The challenge begins with the vast and varied needs of our military veterans. ACPA has identified meeting the needs of our veterans and their families as a priority. Past ACPA President Tom Jackson and I, along with the leadership within ACPA have listened to our membership in seeking to address these challenges. The need grows each day as more and more veterans are making the decision to change their lives through education.

With the approval from Congress, on August 1, 2009 the new GI Bill era began. The new GI Bill covers up to full tuition and fees for in-state public universities in addition to financial support for housing and books for post 9/11 veterans who decide to pursue a college or university education. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) expected a significant increase in the number of veterans returning to school due to these increased benefits. We have certainly witnessed such an increase here in Rochester, NY, not only at Monroe Community College (MCC) but also at our neighboring institutions, in addition to the entire State University of New York (SUNY) system.

The military and the US Government made a monumental step in attempting to meet the financial needs of these veterans transitioning to the role of students. But this is just a hint of the challenges and obstacles these students and their families may face.

Researching the policies and regulations in addition to the best practices and narratives on this subject matter brought me to the VA website. The quote I referenced above from Abraham Lincoln was brought to my attention while researching the VA website. I found the Mission Statement, Vision, and Core Values all to be reflective of our goal to assist veterans through a successful transition and experience on our college and university campuses. I ask that we reflect on these as we consider how our campuses can better meet these needs. The VA lists the following about their department (found online at

VA Mission Statement
To fulfill President Lincoln's promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.

To provide veterans the world-class benefits and services they have earned - and to do so by adhering to the highest standards of compassion, commitment, excellence, professionalism, integrity, accountability, and stewardship.

Core Values
Compassion: We will treat all veterans and their families with the utmost dignity and compassion. We will provide services in a caring manner, with a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Commitment: Veterans have earned our gratitude and respect. Their health care, benefits, and memorial service needs to drive our actions

Excellence: We strive to exceed the expectations of veterans and their families. We strive to perform at the highest level of competence and take pride in our accomplishments.

Professionalism: Our success depends on maintaining a highly-skilled, diverse, and compassionate workforce. We foster a culture that values equal opportunity, innovation, and accountability.

Integrity: We recognize the importance of accurate information. We practice open, truthful, and timely communication with veterans, employees, and external stakeholders. By carefully listening and responding to their concerns, we seek continuous improvement in our programs and services.

Accountability: We will perform in a manner at all times that makes us accountable, responsible, and answerable to veterans and their families, our leaders and other employees as well as external stakeholders.

Stewardship: We will ensure responsible stewardship of the human, financial, and natural resources as well as data and information entrusted to us. We will improve performance through the use of innovative technologies, evidence-based medical practices, and sound business principles.

I trust that each of us can share our belief in these statements found on the VA website. But we also know that words or programs identified by the VA alone cannot meet all of the needs of our students. These are students who at times wear both the emotional and physical scars of war and conflict, scars that we cannot always visually identify.

There are a handful of resources available online that provide a deeper understanding and further insight into our goal to best serve our veterans and their families. I hope to share more in the future but I wanted to provide a brief list of articles I feel are worthy of our attention. They provide insight and perspective from various points of view:

1) POV: Veterans Returning To College Aren’t Victims, They’re Assets By Peter Katopes
2) Valuing Veterans By Rose Sachs and the CTC Team
3) Soldiers in the Classroom By Mike Rose
4) Course to help transition veterans into civilian life By Stacy Quillen-Armstrong

Among the online resources that I found the most touching was “Half of Us.” For those of you not familiar with this website it is an online resource focused on depression and similar mental health topics faced by college students every day. It also has an area dedicated to military veterans. The site includes first person accounts from veterans as they return to college. I encourage you to visit this website at

This conversation will continue as we support our heroes as they take the next steps in their lives as college students.

Dr. Susan Salvador
ACPA President 2010-2011

Monday, April 12, 2010

From Dr. Susan Salvador, 2010-2011 ACPA President

Boston 2010… what a great experience! I hope that each of you who had the opportunity to attend this year’s conference found it to be everything you expected and more. Past-President Tom Jackson Jr., Convention Chair Robin Diana and their teams did an outstanding job planning and orchestrating the ACPA International Convention in Boston. The challenge to build on this year’s success has been acknowledged and we look forward to going beyond these expectations at the ACPA Conference in Baltimore 2011… Patty Perillo, 2011 Convention Chair and her convention planning team have already started the planning for BMORE in Baltimore!

As I embark on my journey as ACPA President for the 2010-2011 year I look forward to the opportunity to build on ACPA’s past success as a leader in higher education. I see the next year as a year in which ACPA will continue to take the lead in advancing the profession of student affairs. We will remain strong, focused, and committed to the efforts we have undertaken in the past while moving forward and continuing to address our strategic priorities.

As the president of ACPA, I will continue to be guided by ACPA’s strategic priorities which include: Knowledge & Competencies; Professional & Career Development; and Membership & Recruitment. As members of ACPA, it is important for each of us to keep these priorities before us.

While I use these strategic priorities as guidelines, my presidency will focus on four primary areas as well as support. These areas include:

1) Our students who are veterans of the armed forces and their families. We need to strengthen and ensure our services meet the needs of these veterans. We need to partner with faculty and staff to ensure our veterans are not overlooked in the educational process. We cannot forget their families. We need to ensure services are available, whether through our campuses or community partners, that expand beyond the traditional campus services. Our veterans cannot and should not be separated from the issues of their families who may also have adjustment concerns.

2) Learning and understanding more about community college students as well as the student services staff who serve them. What strategies, philosophies, and approaches are used by community college student services colleagues? How can a better understanding of community colleges help us in our efforts? What should staff and faculty at two and four colleges learn from and partner with to best serve students?

3) The continual globalization of ACPA which includes an increased international presence, including membership, growth of study abroad, research and the sharing of knowledge.

4) Growing in our ability to serve our students as the stresses and pressures they face continue to mount. Our need to enhance the ways we assist our students with the “invisible book bags” they carry … which are filled with issues related to work, mental health, finances, and family, just to name a few. How can we approach and assist students differently? How can we recognize that to do the same thing harder is not the answer.

For those of you who were at the ACPA 2010 Conference at Boston you may have had the opportunity to attend the business meeting to hear my mentor, Monroe Community College President Emeritus R. Thomas Flynn, speak. He shared that one simple question has always been at the heart of his success. Reflecting on his earliest days in college student personal administration at Rutgers University to his most recent position as President of Monroe Community College, for President Flynn the question has always been “Is it good for the students?”

We need to ensure that we maintain a similar focus and remember why we chose the career path we have… for most of us that is to have a positive impact on our students and our campus communities.

I ask that you join me in this next year as we look forward to making a difference on our campuses and preparing for ACPA Baltimore 2011 in being more… be more intentional, be more principled, be more connected, be more engaged, be more happy, be more inclusive. Be more of what makes you who you are!

Monday, February 15, 2010

From the New VP-Elect
by Dr. Heidi Levine

I am thrilled to have been elected to serve as the next Vice President of ACPA. It is an incredible honor to have been selected to work with and represent you, and I am so very appreciative of the faith you have expressed in me.

I am looking forward to meeting with the Assembly, leaders and members in Boston. This is such an exciting, challenging and vital time for our profession and association. We have important work to do together, and I’m ready to listen, facilitate, and join with all of you in that work.

See you in Boston!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guest Blog - Random Thoughts
by Robin, Diana, Boston 2010 Convention Chair

It is February with a little over a month to go before our ACPA Convention is upon us. Have you ever had those quiet moments when you dream about what would it be like if…? You begin to visualize it and think through what it might be like. You smile; you laugh; and you may even shed a tear or a release a big sigh. You might even sketch out your thoughts in detail, see your ideas implemented and identify who you would surround yourself with “if” you were to be Chair of the ACPA Convention.

I must admit, I have had those questioning moments over the course of the last five years prior to becoming Chair. I have imagined…What would it be like? What would I do? Who would be on the team? What would I learn? What would I love about it? What would I change? What would I dislike about it? The list went on. But, one thing was clear to me, I would want it more than anything. I already had thoughts of what I would do. Did I really know what was ahead? Did I know for sure what to expect, what would come my way?

Eighteen months ago, when I was offered the position by Tom Jackson, vice president elect, for a moment, I was, speechless (yes, hard to imagine me, speechless). I was thrilled, shocked, scared, and really not sure I could do it. I had a million thoughts running through my head, including those I had thought about over and over again for so many years. Would I be able to live up to the president's expectations, challenges, and crazy ideas? He and I have known each other since the late 80’s, and served on many ACPA things before—so of course I could work with him. Let me correct that, he would be working for me. So as reality set in, I paused, sighed, laughed, and smiled, and the word “Yes” came out of my mouth. Followed by the words, “Yes, yes and yes!”

As I reflect on my journey as the Boston 2010 Convention Chair, I must tell you that this experience has been more than what I could ever have visualized, anticipated, predicted or expected—in such an amazing way!

Some thoughts from my experience I want to share as new members come on board and contribute to ACPA:
  1. Be a coach. While I never have formally coached a sports team, in the spirit of teaching skills, strategies, and techniques associated with a sports team, one thing I did know is that I needed to guide, challenge, support and motivate the team and then needed to get off the field and let the players “play” the game. Coaches keep playing until they get it right.
  2. Learn to be comfortable being in the middle. I had no idea that I would learn as much as I have or work with as many colleagues as I have. As Chair you work very closely with all leadership. From wanting to grant wishes and listening to ideas, to receiving feedback, and to attending to agendas and needs. I learned to manage the details and the big picture. I needed to listen, reflect, evaluate, respond and sometimes put on my tap dancing shoes and “dance.” I did my best to be a strategic thinker (my #1 in StrengthQuest) and weigh all sides before deciding. Trying to create win-wins was always my first choice, even though at times, it was not possible.
  3. Be on the lookout for possibilities and opportunities. I am not one to accept the word, “can’t.” If I was told “We can’t,” I would ask “Why not? Can’t we knock the ‘t’ off can’t?" Change, or as I like to call it possibilities and opportunities, is what makes life fun and exciting. Problems or concerns are opportunities waiting to happen. A setback is an opportunity to begin anew more intelligently. Never pull down the shade. As long as you’re going to think about anything, think big. As my mother would say to me, “Robin, you may fall seven times, so stand up eight. Your perseverance and tenacity will serve you right; open the shade and let the sun shine in. Never pull down the shade.”
  4. Make it a habit to tell people thank you. As I think about the convention team, leadership and our members who continuously give of their time, talent and expertise, I am amazed. It is important to find moments to express appreciation and gratitude to volunteers who sincerely do this and without the expectation of anything in return. They are the foundation of our success. I can only hope that I have expressed enough my deepest gratitude. As one great author said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and never giving it.” Give it!
  5. Learn how to say no. I can say no without actually saying the word “no.” Need I say more? (No!).
  6. Gain strength, courage and confidence with each experience. I have grown in so many ways. My heart and soul have been strengthened and my ambition inspired. I have taken more risks than I might have in the past. I have learned the difference between good and great is just a little, ok, sometimes a lot of extra effort.
  7. Be spontaneous and flexible. You have heard the saying, “Just another ordinary day.” Wrong. The past five months, 85% of my day, not including nights and weekends has been devoted to ACPA. I have learned to be flexible, to prioritize the important things, to stay fit, and see the humor in things. For anyone thinking about being Chair, there really are no ordinary days! Choose what “gets” to you. Switch your mind to a new station. Laugh. Be real and honest with yourself. Take a break and tune out…just for a moment or two.
I am grateful for this journey and the opportunity to work with exceptionally talented and committed colleagues. I have been challenged, empowered and inspired beyond any professional position I have held in student affairs. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Thank you Tom Jackson and to the many colleagues who supported and believed in me to do the work I love to do.

See you in Boston!

My heartfelt thanks,

Robin Diana
Chair, Boston 2010 Convention

Sunday, January 10, 2010

ACPA and NASPA Approve Similar Resolutions - Subcommittees Next
by Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., ACPA President 2009-10

It was Desi Arnaz saying to Lucille Ball, “Now you went and did it!” As for consolidation, yep, both ACPA and NASPA took one more small step as we continue on the path toward consolidation.

When I was a graduate student I heard the question: what is the difference between ACPA and NASPA? I won’t tell you what I was told at that time but I will tell you that the following year I joined both associations and have remained a member of both associations ever since. Where those differences I was told true at the time? In hindsight I honestly think they were exaggerated. Some were true but all in all, at least for my career, ACPA and NASPA have been much more alike than they have been different. I acknowledge these sentiments may not be true for everyone, and certainly the many before me. However, a big part of the message we have heard this past semester within the states has been that ACPA and NASPA are much more alike than they are not. In part for this reason, both of our memberships favor ACPA and NASPA having these discussions. They have for many years. And, to your Governing Boards credit, they are listening to you.

During the December board meetings for both ACPA and NASPA, both boards acted on a resolution to continue the process toward consolidation. There still is a great amount of work to do, but the boards committed themselves to a process that now involves each board directly, as well as many leaders and members within the associations. This is an amazing and very positive step. For many, many years this conversation did not make it to the respective boards, and therefore never made it officially to the members. This past year not only has your ACPA Governing Board acted on this topic twice, but the NASPA Board of Directors has done so as well. This is historic.

The resolutions that were passed contain mostly the same language. However, the versions voted on and passed also have subtle differences. Most importantly, however, is that both versions commit to a process of involving association leaders in co-chairing joint subcommittees that will define many elements of a new organization. What occurs after this work is completed remains the only significant difference between the two resolutions. There have been some members who wanted a more detailed picture of what a combined association might look like in the future. This is an opportunity for some of this work to be developed. It really is exciting.

In late January the “consolidation steering team” consisting of the ACPA and NASPA president, ACPA and NASPA past president, ACPA and NASPA Vice President/President-Elect, and the two Executive Directors will meet in Washington, D.C. This will be the historic 3rd meeting of this group. During the meeting the group will work with our consultant in reconciling the resolutions, determining our next steps, revising our timeline, transitioning our leadership, and slotting co-chairs for the different subcommittees.

The collegiality within your ACPA Governing Board, and the shared collegiality between our two associations, has been very present these past several months. As we contemplate the larger question of what is best for our profession, there has been no doubt that we all share a commitment to our profession and respective associations. It is my belief you, as a member, would be proud of this Governing Board.

No matter where this consolidation path takes us collectively, it is gratifying that you have allowed the members of this ACPA Governing Board to be the leaders of our profession at this moment in time. They are a talented group of colleagues who have already proven themselves worthy of your confidence and support. Weeeee.