I am honored and humbled to be considered for this leadership role in an association that has had such a profound impact on my professional growth. I’ve grown up in NASPA, and still remember the feeling of connection and purpose I experienced as a graduate student in my first volunteer experience 25 years ago.
Having served in multiple regional and national leadership positions, on the NASPA Board, and at five very different institutions, my feelings about NASPA and its potential remain hopeful as I look to our future – one filled with tensions for which we need to prepare. For example:
We have witnessed significant changing demographics of our undergraduate and graduate student populations. However, as we change how professionals work and lead through identity, social justice and advocacy work, we need to fundamentally shift practices, policies, and approaches to create truly inclusive campuses and to better connect with our students’ needs.
We have a deeper understanding of NASPA’s role in shaping legislative conversations around public policy and legislation, yet find ourselves in a national environment in which the value of higher education is more questioned than ever.
We have evolved our understanding of enrollment management for our campuses and educated members on strategies to address decreasing resources, yet will soon experience an industry-wide enrollment cliff for which most campuses are ill-prepared.
We have communities of the most connected – yet the most isolated – student populations in generations both on our campuses and forecasted to enroll in the next five years. The resulting health and wellbeing concerns for students and student affairs professionals will require rethinking how we approach our work.
These are big issues, but NASPA and its members are uniquely qualified and prepared to address them. To help our association strategically prepare for what is to come, and in alignment with the principles of social justice and the NASPA Strategic Plan, as Board Chair I would encourage NASPA to consider the following priorities:
Redefine our Understanding of Student Success– NASPA has adopted a strategic priority focused on student success. While we are rightly focused on this outcome, it often comes at the expense of “how” a student succeeds. NASPA should lead the conversation in connecting more intentionally the ways in which identity, access, affordability, wellness and wellbeing, and community intersect so students can thrive while they succeed, not simply survive their experiences.
Evolve our Professional Preparation – Simply put our work has changed. How we prepare our future professionals must change as well. Working with Student Affairs graduate program faculty, key NASPA divisions and knowledge communities, NASPA Institute directors, and our members, I will encourage NASPA to identify gaps in our competencies and current research, and to address how to prepare professionals for working in this new landscape.
Understand Professional Wellbeing – Increasing severity of crises and wellness needs on our campuses, the pressure of often being the primary folx on campuses supporting students in their understanding of identity, poor direct training in supervision, and years of “doing more with less” have left Student Affairs staff exhausted and vulnerable. I will advocate for NASPA’s focus on helping us understand the limits of our work, and to evolve our understanding of what it means to be well as professionals.
Advance the National and International Conversations – The value and benefit of higher education continue to be questioned nationally, and key programs for student support are in jeopardy. With critical legislation in the balance, NASPA must encourage members to become more engaged in advocacy efforts on behalf of our students. Additionally, we need to better understand NASPA’s role with global partners and how these connections may shift our association’s focus and identity.
Increase Access to NASPA – In alignment with the NASPA Strategic Plan, an intentional approach to examining how all professionals access NASPA and its resources is paramount to the success of our profession and our students. I will encourage NASPA to critically evaluate and evolve our approach to providing member access in places where travel may not be possible, or for whom funding is a continued concern.
It would be a privilege and an honor to serve the association in this role, to help us prepare for our future, and to give back to an association that has given me so much. Thank you.