Student Affairs Matters: Telling the Story through Assessment and Budget

with Stacy Ackerlind, Barbara Hancock Snyder, Jerry L. Basford

About This Course

Student affairs is increasingly being asked to demonstrate effectiveness of services, programs and learning opportunities for students. This session will focus on strategies from different levels of leadership within student affairs to navigate organizational change, connect assessment findings to budget and mobilize student affairs to lead conversations around accountability and effectiveness. The session will include specific strategies such as implementing performance indicators that could be utilized within a different context. Participants will have the opportunities to share best practices from their respective campus as part of this session. 

Student affairs has always had a dynamic history with an ability to evolve to meet the needs of students. How this story of change is told varies, and oftentimes does not fully illustrate the complexities that happen at all different levels of the organization (Keeling, 2004; Kuh, 2009). With increasing emphasis on accountability and fewer resources, institutions of higher education, are called upon to evaluate how they are using them (Bresciani et al., 2009; Liu, 2011; Mallory & Clement, 2009).

Five years ago, student affairs at the University of Utah developed a strategic plan to align programs and services. As the division has come to the five year mark, evaluation of the success of the plan is important for the organization to reflect on opportunities and challenges. With a new president who has emphasized the importance of undergraduate education, the division has used this opportunity to consider the future and prepare to more clearly make connections to the institutional strategic plan that is under development. Within student affairs, this is critical given the myriad services and programs that support student learning, retention and graduation (Upcraft & Schuh, 1996; Schuh & Associates, 2009).

This process has called upon staff members to better articulate the programs and services they provide and the data they have to support the efficacy of these programs as related to completion. The process has involved articulating key activities, goals and outcomes both at the division and unit level to create a more focused organizational narrative and ability to highlight critical connections of student affairs to the larger institution. An important part of this process has involved shifting the culture through a deeper connection of budget and assessment.

This session will focus on the leadership strategies utilized to emphasize evaluation and preparation for change through different perspectives within student affairs as well as specific approaches that could be replicated on another campus. The conversation will highlight the following perspectives: chief student affairs officer, associate vice president for business and auxiliary services; and special assistant the vice president for student affairs. This session may be of interest to chief student affairs officers, mid-level professionals, and new professionals.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will:

  • be able to describe the contextual elements that drive change within higher education;
  • be able to articulate different leadership strategies to make organizational change;
  • have the opportunity to reflect on which process strategies would be effective within their respective institutional context; and
  • share best practices for their respective institutions.