Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Professional Development

The excitement is palpable! This past month has been a time of incredible member engagement and energy. I’ve come to think of October and November as “State Division Conference Season,” and one of the perks of being ACPA President is having the opportunity to visit with our State Division members at those gatherings. I, along with ACPA Executive Director Greg Roberts, Vice President Keith Humphrey, Past President Susan Salvador, and other members of the Governing Board, have attended almost a dozen state conferences over the past 6 weeks. At those conferences we’ve had the chance to attend outstanding workshops, hear inspiring speakers, share news about what is happening on the national agenda, and – best of all – talk with members about the issues that are most important to them.

During this same time several hundred ACPA members and friends participated in one of more than 50 visioning “MeetUps” that took place around and beyond the United States. During these sessions participants shared their visions of the future of higher education, their beliefs about what values and activities will be needed to meet those future challenges, and their suggestions about how ACPA can lead the way in addressing those issues. At a Governing Board meeting later this month we’ll be reviewing the summary report of those MeetUps and using what we’ve learned from our members to help us start crafting our next strategic plan.

In the meantime, this week's edition of ACPA's ecommunity is full of information about upcoming professional development opportunities that are helping our members address the challenges they face on their campuses today, updates about emerging legislative and (inter)national issues, and news about the important work our ACPA entity groups are doing. With all this energy, it’s a great time to serving ACPA as your President!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let's Envision the Future!

The field of student affairs, and higher education in general, stands where it does today because of the dreams, the vision, the dedication and the will to act of those who came before us. Early in the 20th century The Student Personnel Point of View (which is “celebrating” its 75th anniversary in 2012) challenged those working in student services to consider the development of the whole student. Students’ growth and development was not just the domain of faculty, and “student personnel” staff were challenged to think about the ways in which they and the services they provided contributed to that development.

A little more than half a century later ACPA President Charles Schroeder led the conceptualization and publication of the Student Learning Imperative. That document challenged us again, this time to think about ourselves and our work as contributing not only to students’ development but as central to student learning.
Now, just under 20 years after the publication of the SLI, we’re looking to the future again. ACPA is looking to our members to join in identifying those dreams and visions that will propel us into the next decade. What does higher education require of us? What values should we be carrying forward? How do we frame this and tap into the will to act that will allow us to translate those dreams into our new reality?

Throughout the month of October ACPA is holding a series of visioning session “MeetUps” in order to tap into the creativity, knowledge and dedication of our members and friends. Some of these MeetUps are taking place face-to-face at a range of locations around the U.S. and North America. Some are taking place virtually, and some of those virtual MeetUps are timed to allow our colleagues outside the U.S. to participate. There’s still time to sign up by going to http://meetups.myacpa.org/howcanijoinanacpameetup.

Please join us in this opportunity to chart the course for student affairs. I look forward to hearing your dreams, visions and plans for the future!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Year

Happy new year! I hope the first days and weeks of the new academic year are going (or, for those yet to start, go) smoothly. I particularly hope that all of our colleagues on campuses in the eastern part of the U.S. sustained minimal damage and disruption.

I’m excited about all of the programs and initiatives we have for our members as we embark on a new year. Our Transfer Task Force is at work helping us to identify the most effective practices for engaging transfer students. The convention planning team is about to review the hundreds of convention program proposals that you are submitting. I can’t wait to hear the aspirations our members share through our “visioning session” MeetUps in October, as we move to lead and shape the profession in the coming decade.

I am also delighted to be introducing ACPA’s new, weekly e-community. I think this is going to be a great tool to keep ACPA members in the loop about association activities, professional development opportunities, and issues within the broader higher education world.

Let us know what you’d like to hear more about, so that we can make ACPA e-community the most vibrant and useful membership connection possible.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Toronto to Tobago to Louisville to Mount Vernon

It’s been a whirlwind month full of ACPA travels and meetings. I had two opportunities to meet with colleagues outside the U.S. – first, with Greg Roberts, representing ACPA at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services in Toronto, and then attending our CTLPA (Caribbean Tertiary Level CPA) conference with fellow Governing Board member Kathleen Kerr in St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. I was struck by both how similar and different student issues and student affairs are in these places that are relatively close to “the States.” In both Canada and the Caribbean region folks talked about how professionalization and helping others see our work as more than simply providing necessary services. Hearing the Honorable Fazal Karim, Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago give the opening keynote at the CTLPA was absolutely inspirational. The Minister spoke about the critical role that student affairs plays in promoting student learning and, ultimately, advancing society. I couldn’t help but think how incredible it would be for a U.S. secretary-level official to speak about the importance of student affairs at one of our conventions – can you imagine it?!

And then there were the conversations about student issues – engaging students in international study experiences, addressing mental health-related concerns, working with “the good, the bad and the ugly” of technology, fostering inclusion and responding to acts of intolerance, best practices in assessing student learning. Sound familiar? The issues and needs of students, and the great research that’s being conducted about students’ experiences and development, cross boundaries and miles.

After returning to the U.S., I got to visit Louisville, Kentucky, site of our 2012 convention, to meet with the convention planning team and for our annual Summer Leadership Meeting. What a great week that was! We had healthy, open, challenging and inspiring conversations about ACPA’s strategic goals, collaboration within and beyond the association, ACPA’s role in outreach and advocacy, and future meeting plans. We also used the time with this outstanding group of leaders to “beta test” the visioning sessions that I talked about in a recent e-card video to our members. I can’t wait to roll the process out for our full membership next month!

Finally, during my first full week back on campus Cornell College hosted the Student Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI). We had 47 students from 26 institutions around the U.S. visiting our campus in Eastern Iowa and learning about themselves, the dynamics of oppression and inclusion, and about how to make their campuses and communities (and maybe even our world) more inclusive and socially just. Somehow that seems like the perfect end to this month, because isn’t that why we’re doing this work in the first place – to help our students learn about themselves and the world, and grow in ways that will help them take that learning back into the world? As I said in my e-card, we really do great, and important, work!


Friday, July 1, 2011

We Do Important Work

From fostering student success to developing future leaders, we do important work as student affairs professionals. As a member of ACPA, your help is needed to continue this important work.

I am very pleased to invite you to engage with ACPA leaders and members around the world in a series of Visioning Sessions. These sessions will give voice to our members regarding the future of student affairs and ACPA. View a brief clip about this project and its goals.

More detailed information about the process for becoming involved will be sent in the near future.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, goals, challenges and dreams as we vision the future of our work and our profession together!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reflection on ACPA Presidential Symposium

What a great day! Just under 100 colleagues from around Iowa (and a few from neighboring states) came together last Wednesday for the first-ever ACPA Presidential Symposium. We co-sponsored this one-day conference with the Iowa Student Personnel Association, and together helped frame and facilitate conversations about ways in which we can be more intentional fostering student success. 

In the morning I encouraged participants to embrace the challenge presented in the Future of Student Affairs report to shift from just focusing on increasing access to higher education in order to be more focused on helping students, once enrolled, to succeed. I shared four particular areas I had spoken about in my presidential address in Baltimore this past March: creating more inclusive campus communities, being more intentional in our work with transfer students, addressing student mental health issues and needs, and harnessing both the potential and challenges related to social media.

Our outstanding break-out session facilitators brought tremendous expertise in these areas and helped participants think about what practices they could bring back to their campuses in order to meet this imperative. Here are just a few of the “take-aways” participants shared at the end of the day:
  • Plans to review campus policies and protocols to ensure that they provide an equitable framework for our work with all students;
  • Learning about a web resource for transfer students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics);
  • Introduction to a range of social media resources that can help us connect students in their sharing and reflecting; and
  • Increasing our knowledge about some of the factors and challenges related to student mental health crises.
I’d love to hear about what you’re doing on your campuses to create innovative and high-impact practices to help our students succeed!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ACPA Moving Forward

It’s been an extraordinary few weeks in the life of ACPA and our members. So much has been happening that it’s hard to believe it has been three full weeks since we learned the outcome of the consolidation vote.

ACPA Executive Director, Greg Roberts, and I held a series of “Savor Chats” following the vote, during which we had the chance to talk with members about their feelings, questions and hopes for the future. Some of the participants were past and current association leaders, but there were also folks at every career level who have not been deeply involved with ACPA in the past. One of the most exciting things to me about these sessions was hearing how many people want to engage to help us move forward. Suggestions included new member outreach, broadly engaging our membership in visioning and goal-setting, re-tooling our member career and placement services, and continuing to extend our connections beyond convention. What else should be on our radar?

This summer we’ll be rolling out new initiatives and renewed programs to address these, and other topics. We are in the midst of linking up members who expressed interest in becoming more involved during the Savor Chats with ACPA leaders and groups that match their interests. One of ACPA’s strengths has always been the fact that members at all levels have the opportunity to be involved and to become association leaders. Let us know the role you’d like to play.

I also have been very aware of all the great work that we’ve been continuing to do to promote professional development and student learning. It seems that hardly a day goes by without hearing about a webinar, symposium or resource that ACPA is offering the profession. As just one example, our Commissions for Alcohol & Other Drug Issues and Wellness just published a resource guide on the risks involved with mixing alcohol and high-caffeine beverages, a dangerous practice with which many of us have been wrestling. We’re all doing great work every day, on our campuses and in our association – let’s be sure we’re sharing those stories!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Get To Know Us!

ACPA and NASPA just concluded a historic vote on consolidation. While the majority from both associations voted to consolidate, the outcome of a single student affairs association has not been realized.

Throughout the two-year consolidation exploration process, and especially in the past few days, we continue to hear from our members their appreciation of all the benefits and outstanding professional development experiences that have resulted from their involvement with ACPA. We believe this is a great time to invite our NASPA colleagues who may not be familiar with ACPA to learn more about our association.

From May 1 to December 31, 2011, we would like to extend a complimentary “Get To Know Us” membership to each current NASPA member. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to send this invite to a colleague across the hallway, campus or country to know first-hand your experiences at ACPA. Ask that they give “Get To Know Us” a try – it’s time they experience for themselves some of the core ACPA values in action – leadership opportunities at all career levels, voting rights for all members, and participation in the generation and dissemination of knowledge that supports our students.

Details of the program and application form (pdf) are available here.

Together with your active involvement, ACPA will:
  • Lead the profession in generating knowledge;
  • Advance social justice on our campuses;
  • Identify and disseminate best practices to promote student learning and development; and
  • Build upon and extend scholarly and practitioner expertise.

Please feel free to contact the International Office at info@acpa.nche.edu if you need any additional information.

Heidi Levine signature Gregory Roberts signature
Heidi Levine, ACPA President 2011-2012
Gregory Roberts, ACPA Executive Director

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ACPA Votes Yes, NASPA Votes No

ACPA Proudly chose to unite our profession, and NASPA did not.

Over two years ago, the ACPA Governing Board and the NASPA Board of Directors committed to explore the possibility of a new comprehensive international student affairs association that combined the strengths and resources of both associations. We have just concluded an historic vote by members of ACPA and NASPA on whether to move forward with the proposed consolidation plan.  We learned today that ACPA members voted in favor of uniting the profession and our NASPA colleagues chose not to consolidate. 

While this news comes as a disappointment to the majority of ACPA members, ACPA has always been and will continue to be the association for our profession’s leading scholars, administrators, student development educators, graduate students and corporate partners.  You have our continued commitment to unparalleled leadership in the areas that matter most to our members. With your involvement, ACPA will:

  • Lead the profession in generating knowledge;
  • Advance social justice on our campuses;
  • Identify and disseminate best practices to promote student learning and development;
  • Build upon and extend scholarly and practitioner expertise;
  • Partner with the ACPA Foundation to support research and professional development;
  • Maximize our relationships with higher education associations to influence and shape the higher education agenda;
  • Engage our members in the work and leadership of our association; and
  • Collaborate with NASPA when appropriate, and compete with NASPA when appropriate.

Thank you for participating with us in this important dialogue and for continuing to make ACPA your professional home.  We look forward to working with all of our members and partners as we continue to offer outstanding leadership, scholarship and commitment to our students, profession and the greater higher education community.


Monday, April 18, 2011

The Journey Continues

The voting is over. Thank you to all the members who participated in this historic process. Soon we’ll know the answer to whether ACPA and NASPA are going to consolidate into a single, comprehensive association.
Both associations have members who opted to vote by paper ballot, and our polling firms need time to receive, certify and add the votes to those cast on-line. It will take around 7 business days to complete the tabulation and determine the results. Each of us who has been involved in shepherding this process agrees it is essential  that all of our members learn these results at the same time.

So on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 6:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time members of ACPA and NASPA will receive an email letter from me and NASPA president Patricia Telles-Irvin sharing the outcome of the vote. One announcement, the same initial message, to all. And then, whatever the outcome, we start the work of moving into our future.

What an exciting time this is! Thank you for being on the journey with me!


Monday, April 11, 2011


Folks who attended one of the consolidation discussions at the ACPA convention got to hear my “soapbox speech” about the importance of voting on the question of whether ACPA and NASPA should consolidate into a single, unified professional association. With apologies to those readers who were at one of those sessions, I am climbing back up on that same soapbox again now!

Conversations about consolidation (or unification, merger… the term has varied) with NASPA have taken place over the past 30 years, but this is the first time we have ever formulated an actual plan or been at the point of a member vote. While there are certainly more important issues facing higher education than whether ACPA and NASPA should consolidate, I can’t think of a more important question for the two associations. The plan is not perfect (what plan ever is?), and there are many details still to be fleshed out, but it gives us a basic framework of what a new association would look like. The question that each of us must answer is whether we think this framework looks like one that will best serve our profession as we move into the future – if so, vote “yes;” if not, vote “no.” The most important thing to do is to vote. We’ve waited a long time to get to the place where we can finally voice our perspectives on this issue – it’s too important for anyone to sit this out.

If you’ve already voted – great! If you have not yet voted you should have received a follow-up email with voting information from our polling firm last week. Please make yourself familiar with all of the information about the proposal and plan and cast your vote by 11:59 p.m. (EDT), Friday April 15. Remember – Voice = Vote!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Opinion Piece from George Kuh


I received this opinion piece from Dr. George Kuh which he requested be posted to ACPA members. It has already been shared with NASPA’s membership.

Susan Salvador
It’s Time
I’ve read with interest over past months the pros and cons posted by colleagues about the proposed consolidation of ACPA and NASPA. I have friends in both camps, and have learned a good deal from their reasoned arguments. But nothing has changed the view I’ve held on this issue for at least 20 years or so. For the student affairs profession to use its educational philosophy and empirical and theoretical knowledge about students and campus environments to demonstrably influence higher education policy as well as institutional practice in a real-time, coherent fashion, the field needs to speak in one informed, respected voice. So, color me unequivocally in favor of bringing ACPA and NASPA together to form one overarching association to unify the profession. And the sooner the better. Consolidation is long overdue.

There was a time when ACPA and NASPA differed in substantive and occasionally in procedural ways about their priorities and policy positions, and how they addressed the professional development needs of student affairs staff at different points in their careers. I suspect an analysis of the topics featured several decades ago at their national and regional meetings and their governing board actions would illustrate some of these differences. I’ve been a member of and attended most national meetings of the two groups for about 35 years and no longer discern meaningful differences. This realization became all-too-clear to me years ago when trying to explain in response to the annual queries of graduate students what distinguished the two groups. I had to rely on historical artifacts to come up with examples. Of course, these mattered little to them and were not helpful as they pondered which group to join or meeting to attend.

I intend no disrespect to the histories, traditions and other cultural properties of ACPA and NASPA. They have and will continue to be important – especially to long-time members of the groups. But I fail to see today how they matter in material ways to the professional practice of student affairs or the future development of the field and its practitioners, or to institutional leaders and faculty members who look to student affairs for guidance on how to respond to issues of the day. And if some differences between the cultures of the two groups do exist as some have suggested, they do not begin to offset the influence that one recognized, well-resourced association can have in today’s crowded, noisy, policy environment where economic constraints are forcing hard choices about what to continue to support at both institutional and personal levels.

It’s comforting to hold on to the past, especially when facing uncertainty. In the present instance, consolidation puzzles some because nothing seems to be obviously broken. Another non-trivial challenge is that few analogues provide guidance for how the proposed consolidation can be achieved efficiently and effectively. I cannot begin to imagine the many details to be addressed. I admire and salute those who’ve already begun to flesh them out. Surely there will be a period during which the products and services presently offered by each organization are interrupted or are not integrated as seamlessly as we want. It will be messy with unpredictable bumps along the way, even with all the deliberations and planning that have and will continue. If you fly frequently, you’ve also experienced firsthand some such irritants, such as the computer systems of merged airlines such as Delta and Northwest failing to function as they should. I’m getting another taste of this as Continental and United work toward similar ends. But as with any other decision to bring large organizations together, people of good will can make it happen if given enough time, support and understanding.

The accomplishments of ACPA and NASPA are many and both groups have served the field and their members well. But the world order has changed. Neither staying separate nor consolidation guarantees a bright future for the profession or the millions of students and faculty at colleges and universities across the country who benefit in known and unknown ways from the contributions of student affairs staff. My bet is that coming decades will demand responses from student affairs best orchestrated by a single organization with clout and a vision for higher education and the student experience informed by clear thinking and relevant research. Speaking with one voice and acting as one unified professional body is more likely to achieve those ends in a future marked by increasing complexity, escalating demands, and stretched resources. I’m bullish on consolidation, even with all the unknowns that are part and parcel of the process and resulting structure. It’s time.

George D. Kuh is Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, and Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus at Indiana University.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Message from the Vice President

What a year it’s been! And what a great time to be serving you as ACPA Vice President.

One of the joys of being Vice President is having the opportunity to work closely with the Assembly Coordinators and leaders of our co
nstituent groups. A lot has been accomplished by our members and leaders since our Boston convention last March. Here are just a few highlights:

• Our 20th Commission was established – the Commission for Recreation and Athletics. The Commission has published a position paper offering college/university presidents and ACPA members information about a recent NCAA decision regarding camps and conferences.

• The Standing Committee for Women, in collaboration with the 2011 convention planning team and other Standing Committees have created a section on the convention website providing family-friendly information and resource for members who will be bringing children to Baltimore this March.

Along with these examples, each Commission, Standing Committee, State or International Division has been working to provide members with access to important resources and outstanding professional development.

I look forward to seeing you in Baltimore in just a couple of months. While we’re there be sure to participate in some of the activities celebrating the establishment of ACPA Commissions 50 years ago, and to congratulate the 11 Commissions who are celebrating their 50th anniversaries as part of that initial group. And please let me know what’s on your mind as we plan for the coming year. While we’ll still be in the midst of our every-member vote on the question of consolidation with NASPA during the 2011 convention, regardless of the outcome of that vote I’ll want to know what issues you think we, as an association, need to focus on in order to continue meeting the needs of our members, campus, and students.

Wishing you a wonderful spring semester,

Heidi Levine
ACPA Vice President