Graduates should be able to demonstrate their understanding of higher education/ student affairs administration and those aspects related to the leadership of student affairs in college and university settings. In meeting this competency, students should demonstrate their experience with/knowledge of. . .
- Fiscal resources, budget development and management in supporting student affairs programs or services;
Notes: Budget and Finance course – examples of budget work. Org & Admin course – example of Orientation program budget. Work – Foundation scholarship accounts, State Funds, reconciling and monitoring accounts. How is my experience with budgets directly related to student affairs practice/programs? Scholarship reception budgeting and planning – Events. What else have I done with budgets that resulted in the support of some area of student affairs?
Fortunately, my position as Student Services Coordinator throughout my time in the CSSA program has afforded me ample opportunities to work with college finances. In my job, I am responsible for tracking and conducting activity on various accounts through three separate organizations. First, through the OSU Foundation I monitor numerous accounts that are used in direct support of College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) students. There is a mix of endowments and non-endowed accounts supported by yearly giving, but all of these funds originate as donations to our college. I have to keep track of account balances and process paperwork to pay scholarships, reimburse employees, transfer funds between accounts, perform reconciliations, and other related functions. I provide oversight of accounts with millions of dollars in expendables and endowments. Second, a special organization called the Agricultural Research Foundation (ARF) trusts me to provide oversight of funds that are allotted to our CAS student programs and organizations each year. I track all activity on these accounts by keeping a pen-and-paper general ledger and processing all payment requests. The ARF accounts support our students by providing scholarships, funds for student events, CAS club funding, and other various means of student-related aid. The third financial system for which I have direct accounting responsibilities is OSU state funds. The Academic Programs Office has an index and activity codes that we use in support of our office activities and student programs. Invoices and payment requests from state funds in our office come through me for signature and tracking before being processed by Accounts Payable. I have learned more about the various accounts used in support of students at OSU than I ever thought I would coming into this position. Millions of dollars are being handled every day through a complex system of accounts and organizations all in support of the institution and its many missions.
When I heard about the Budget and Finance course offered through CSSA, I had to attend to enhance my knowledge of university financial systems. The culminating assignment for the course required me to envision myself as director of a student affairs office, describe the programs offered and sources of funding, and develop my own budget from scratch. I created the Department of International Student Advising, Recruitment and Orientation (DISARO). I learned that the process of budget creation is very complicated. I had to determine stakeholders; make assumptions about how the budget would be developed; provide justification to the Dean of Students; and then, after creating the initial budget, explain exactly how I would deal with a 5% holdback which resulted in a $20,000 reduction in my initial budget. This project alerted me to the different level of complexity involved in budget development. I have experience working with the budgets after they have already been created. But creating the actual budget, with all of the detailed explanations and line by line accounting, is a whole different ball game.
- Human resource/personnel management, including hiring, supervising, and evaluating employee performance;
Notes: Hiring OS1 – second time now. Hiring student workers. Supervising, evaluating, and managing workflow in an office environment. How has supervising a classified employee provided me with all of the experiences required for this section of the competency? Why is it so much work? Note: represented by a union, has rights, requires a very structured process through Human Resources to ensure that CBA is observed.
This is another area where I have been fortunate to have plenty of opportunities for practical experience via my position as Student Services Coordinator. One of the many hats that I wear in my job is that of Office Manager and Supervisor. I am responsible for hiring and supervising an office specialist and up to three student workers. The learning curve for me in this position has been steep. However, I am now fairly comfortable with the many responsibilities of personnel management. There are a few particular challenges that I have faced and learned from to note here. First, keeping track of each employee’s workload and level of productivity in order to best coordinate the flow of responsibilities requires my constant attention. I need to be able to prioritize a list of competing duties and know when and what to delegate and to whom. Second, hiring a classified employee is very complicated. Since office specialists are represented by a Union, I have had to learn about the Collective Bargaining Agreement so that I understand the rights involved in such an employment contract. Having gone through the hiring process now twice from job posting to job offer, I can say that I have learned the ins and outs of the classified employee hiring process. In addition, I have served on numerous hiring committees for professional faculty at various levels of the institution and have become well versed in the different, yet no less challenging, process of hiring unclassified employees. Third, I have conducted student worker and classified employee evaluations and, unfortunately, have engaged in disciplinary actions due to employee behavior. The formalized classified employee evaluation is required as part of Union and university policy, and having gone through the process several times now, I understand the importance of providing feedback and openly communicating praise for jobs well done and positive critique for areas that could use some extra work. Finally, I have learned to use the PeopleAdmin software here at OSU. I must include this in my portfolio, because creating and posting a position description in PeopleAdmin has been one of the most challenging things that I have accomplished in my career. I attended the workshop to learn how to use PeopleAdmin, but it wasn’t until I logged in and used the various functions a number of times that I truly reached an understanding of this complicated Human Resources tool.
In the Organizational Leadership course, I developed a mind-map of my concept of leadership. By virtue of this project, I was able to visualize my leadership style and ethics in an organized fashion. Upon completion, I looked at the main categories and realized not only what I would like to see in myself as a leader, but also the qualities that I want to see exhibited by others in their leadership capacities. The four main categories are: 1. Mentor, 2. Trust, 3. Nurture, and 4. Communicate.
Comment: What would you say is your guiding philosophy as a supervisor?
Response: I strongly believe in leadership through trusting in the knowledge and abilities of those whom I am responsible for supervising. As shown in my mind map above, I also really believe in maintaining a nurturing environment where people can enjoy coming to the workplace and be given the freedom to retain their humanity. Finally, I am a firm believer in maintaining open lines of communication. I cannot get to know a person and the best ways to transmit information in order to convey my expectations if I haven’t allowed for sufficient communication in the first place. I don’t believe that we leave our personal lives at home. We spend a lot of time at work, so we need this time to be positive and rewarding, not stifling and psychologically harmful.
- Organizational structure, dynamics, and systems;
Notes: Spirituality in Organization course – Organization and Administration Leadership course. What have I learned about hierarchical structures versus flat structures? What are the pros and cons of each? What does it mean to provide a nurturing environment? What is meant exactly by “dynamics” and “systems?” How did Bruce’s example of the LB organizational chart highlight institutional dynamics (even more so than structure)? What have I learned about the organizational structure of the CAS in the last 3 years of working here?
During my undergrad I took a speech course on organizational communication that was very interesting. So, when I saw that Don was teaching a course on spirituality and organizational architecture, I had to attend. We approached organizational structure in a way that I had not encountered before. As a result, much of my belief of what makes an organizational model successful has been informed by the discussions in that course. I would love to see a university with a flat organizational structure where all members of the campus community are at the same level of relative authority with only one person leading from a vantage point just above the rest. However, although this model would ensure that everyone is equal in the overall system, it would be virtually impossible to make decisions and move forward since the entire group would need to agree on an issue before taking action. A flat structure could work in smaller departments or offices within campus, but realistically, is not a feasible option for an entire educational institution. So, we rely on a hierarchical structure with leadership stacked up in the form of a pyramid. This top-down model allows leadership to promote change throughout the entire organization, or just sections therein. The hierarchical pyramid has its own set of drawbacks, such as maintaining an open system of communication throughout the ranks and overall inflexibility. However, change does occur more efficiently than it would in a flat organization, even if universities do seem to move at a snail’s pace. Here is a look at the pros and cons of four types of organizational models along with my scribbled notes:
For the final project in the course on spirituality and organizational architecture, I considered the notion that our spirits are bound to us as humans, and we therefore bring our spirits with us to work in an organization. From this vantage point, I examined two very different organizations: 1. the Unites States Postal Services and 2. Google. What I learned from this project, and the overall course, is that a successful organization understands the importance of nurturing the human spirit. Plenty of organizations in the world are able to produce a product without caring for their employees. But those organizations are failing their employees and customers by not encouraging people to thrive from within, and are therefore, unable to realize their full potential.
Document: Spirit of the Organization Paper
Finally, in order to visualize a hierarchical structure in a way that makes sense to me, I created a mind-map of a generic university as a project for the organizational leadership course. I learned that developing this type of map when dealing with complex models helps to clarify the often convoluted leadership models in our educational systems. Also, I had to learn how to think about how the various functional elements of an institution should be situated in relation to one another to achieve a functional organization.
- Legal issues critical in guiding and influencing practice;
Notes: History course – Land Grant, Title IX, Dixon vs Alabama. Legal Issues course in the winter. What specific legal issues have shaped the ways that students are treated today? What rights do students have now that they didn’t in the future? How has student affairs practice been informed and guided by legal decisions? What current legal issues might lead to future changes in the student affairs profession?
In student affairs, we cannot afford not to understand some basic elements of law. One of the most important concepts that I have come to grasp is that we often have a duty of care to provide students a certain amount of protection from foreseeable harm. When we are responsible for providing that duty of care, and we fail to protect a student, it is possible to be found negligent. What is worse is that if we, as employees of the university, are found to be the main cause of injury to a student, we can be individually and institutionally held liable to compensate for damages. Student affairs professionals are not expected to be legal experts. But we have to be aware of negligence and basic tort liabilities. When I sign a university form to allow students to engage in a university approved activity, I need to have assessed the potential risk involved and the likelihood that I could be found responsible if someone were to get injured. However, when writing policies that will protect the university from getting sued, it is most important to consider protecting our students well before proposing measures to win a lawsuit. Risk management and aversion is the key to avoiding legal issues in the first place. By carefully selecting leadership, keeping people trained to do their jobs well, and providing educational opportunities to inform the community of risk, we can eliminate most potential pitfalls that could have legal implications. Beyond negligence and risk management, there are federal and state laws, rules and regulations, and landmark cases that inform our profession. Title IX prohibits discrimination based upon sex, Title VI prohibits discrimination based upon race or national origin, FERPA protects the confidentiality of student records, SEVIS requires that schools report information regarding students studying on F-1 visas, the 14th Amendment protects us from state laws that infringe on other constitutional rights, Bradshaw v. Rawlings established that students are deemed adults, Brown v. Board of Education ensured equal opportunities for all students in our educational institutions and paved the way for the civil rights movement – and the list goes on and on. I have come to realize that each functional area of student affairs needs to be well aware of the legal issues directly related to their activities. However, student affairs professionals in general have a responsibility to understand a wide range of legal issues as they relate to the students we serve.
In the “Legal Memo” for the Legal Issues in Higher Education course, I chose to address the issues facing universities with growing international student populations. By examining court cases, statutes, regulations, and other legal resources, I learned that offices working with international students must keep abreast of an enormous amount of information. Policy and practice when working with students from other countries should always be informed by adherence to specific legal guidelines for compliance with these various rules and regulations. I chose to identify three concerns related to foreign student case law: 1. Discrimination, 2. TOEFL test fraud, and 3. Student visa issues. While conducting research I encountered many cases where students and/or university staff engaged in fraudulent or discriminatory behavior. The memo warns against the possible pitfalls of falling prey to these wicked temptations. In addition, I became aware of the main visa regulations and immigration laws that all students must successfully navigate in order to legally study or conduct research in America.
Document: Legal Memo
I worked with a fellow student to brief the landmark Chaplinsky case, or “fighting words” case. I learned that while we do have a right to free speech, that right is not unlimited. Students, or anyone for that matter, are not protected when uttering “the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting’ words – those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” This applies to our profession since we often find students in emotional situations where, if not kept in check, can lead to violent acts. The point of this case law is to restrict the language that will inevitably lead to physical injury. However, I also learned that over time, even the most inflammatory language has been protected by free speech laws such that we would be hard pressed to limit a student’s speech, regardless of the incendiary nature of that student’s words.
Document: Chaplinsky Brief
The second exam in the legal issues class gave me the opportunity to exhibit my understanding of the doctrine of incorporation, damages, defamation, the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, and Title VI and Title IX. I then wrote an essay on how an employee and college could defend themselves against being held liable for negligence. Hopefully my learning is evident in the answers I provided. I got 100% on this one!
Document: Exam #2
- Campus climate issues, including administrative strategies to bring congruence between campus climate goals and realities.
Notes: What is “campus climate?” Example: What has OSU done to make the campus a safe and understanding place for LGBTQ students? What is done from the administrative level of the institution to ensure this positive environment? Have I been involved? What do I know about “Campus climate issues?” Safe Space Training.
I cannot provide evidence from coursework for this section. However, I have seen a lot of positive action on behalf of university administration and involved students in maintaining an inclusive, healthy campus climate here at OSU. The cultural centers on campus provide an excellent safe place for all students to learn about particular racial groups at OSU. These centers educate the campus population through outreach activities and make our minority students visible members of the educational community. I have been a part of numerous diversity initiatives on campus by working with Teryl Ross and other key campus leaders. These initiatives are always focused on supporting our diverse student populations and providing education for our students and colleagues. One of my favorite workshops on campus is Safe Space Training. During this training, we learn what it means to be a LGBTQ student and/or employee on campus. This includes the challenges faced as well as the potential opportunities for the greater community to become aware of the knowledge and experience that our LGBTQ population has to offer. I have also been keeping up to date on controversial issues on campus, such as the black face and noose incidents. I am learning a lot about how a university should best respond to such actions in order to maintain a positive campus climate and turn unfortunate incidents into opportunities to educate the community.
Comment: Thinking back past situations like the “black face and noose incidents”, what do you think is important to keep in mind when responding to such situations?
Response: First off, I think it is important to not act in a reactionary fashion. Incidents such as these can ignite the fires within each of us; and understandably so. But, we have to first assume that students don’t mean to intentionally engage in hate speech. Education once again leaps to the forefront for those of us in student affairs. We need to help students who are truly unaware of the fact that they engaged in racist behavior to understand the historical and societal underpinnings of why their actions were deemed insensitive. It is our responsibility as mentors and leaders at the institution to help students recognize how far reaching their actions can be as adults in today’s world. Our behaviors do not exist in a vacuum. Those students who simply cannot understand how their actions were hurtful, or worse, do not care, may need special attention in order to make an unfortunate situation into a productive learning experience. In cases like these it may be more important that we know who the experts are in the relevant fields, and refer students to them, rather than trying to tackle issues that go beyond our professional boundaries. But I would hope to be a support person and point of contact for students who wish to explore these types of incidents as an informed mentor at the institution.