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Too Many Balls in the Air?

Small Colleges and Universities Division
March 30, 2016 Jeanne Ortiz Loyola Marymount University

How many times do we worry about letting important balls associated with our work as a senior student affairs officer at a small college drop, leaving a student, colleague, or committee without effective follow up or leadership?  Such is the life of a senior student affairs officer at a small college or university!  Multiple demands, crises, and other peoples’ priorities, aside from our own vision of what direction Student Affairs on our campuses should play, have occasionally prevented us from moving ahead on initiatives that we really think would make a difference on our campuses.  Do you ever feel that way?

The most significant take away from my participation in the NASPA Small Colleges and Universities Institute in 2014 at Daemen College in Amherst, New York was being with other senior student affairs officers who struggle with the same things I do.  What comfort and support I felt in knowing that I wasn’t alone in “keeping all the balls in the air.”  From the organized presentations and discussions to informal conversations, I learned so much from my colleagues about how they manage the multiple demands on their time.  More importantly, I learned how they take care of themselves when the expectations of others and their own vision could consume all the waking hours of the day…and then some.  I learned how they carved out time for important priorities and how they keep their vision moving forward among all the competing ways that they could have spent their time.  I learned how they took advantage of opportunities in creative ways and dealt with common issues around compliance and reporting with limited staffs.

If you want to go to an institute where there is a strong feeling among participants regarding a common experience and reality informing your work, this is the one for you.  The meaningful conversations with colleagues about the challenges of our work, learning how institutions address common issues, hearing from experts in the field, learning more about how SSAOs interact with their president and boards, and developing a network of support that lasts well beyond the NASPA Small Colleges and Universities Institute far exceeded my expectations. I highly encourage you to attend and learn from others about how they keep “all the balls in the air” and to also show off some of your own juggling techniques as well!

For more information about the 2016 NASPA Small Colleges and Universities Institute, which will be held June 25-28, 2016 at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN or to register, click here.