Student Affairs Administrators without a Campus: Envisioning Careers in Student Affairs in the Emerging Future (part 2)

For Careers in Student Affairs month and my contributions to The Defectors series, this month I’m writing a series of posts exploring the future of the higher education administration in light of the emerging futures of education and work. Last week I shared the notion of the Networked University, which suggests administrative infrastructure that connects several universities centrally rather than working for one specific institution, to provoke thinking about the implications for student affairs professionals in that model (click here to read my introductory post if you haven’t already). And while it’s presented as a future state, there are reasonable elements of the proposed “Network University” that very much exist today.

In fact, the diversity and breadth of functions of the Outsourced University continues to grow. Given the evolution of online education, advising, and coaching, you can enroll, coach, advise, train, or teach students without working at any one particular University.  With the evolving role that technologies and services are continuing to play on behalf of Universities, you might even be focusing your work on degree wayfinding or acceleration for students.  And stepping outside of the campus itself to support and inform Universities you can use those grad school writing and presentation skills to research best practices (like here, here, and here), partner on strategic planning initiatives, or design new offerings. Depending on your role, background, skill set, and relationship with these focus areas, you might even do several at the same time.

That said, recognizing the new reality of the education landscape (with decreasing full-time enrollments and more and more students opting to take courses online), despite the introduction of technology competency in student affairs programs, this practical need that might also be met with a changing landscape of where education administrators go to work.  

Peloton University, for instance, is an in-person campus that doesn’t offer degrees, but rather, advising and coaching services and a physical space to pursue an affordable, career-oriented degree. It’s built for learners who are looking for a community of academic support, mentoring, and coaching, but without the broad array of functional areas beyond academic and student support. As more institutions ‘go where students are,’ I believe this will be an emerging delivery model with implications for how student affairs administrators go to work.

Coding Bootcamps, like the one I worked at, are among a new and emerging set of college “college-alternatives” that are establishing a new and evolving model of higher education institutions that are short, punctuated across a career, and workforce-driven. In my role as a campus director, I supported students from admissions to job placement in their engagement with the DC campus, providing student support across an array of student support services: admissions, enrollment management, advising, academic support, campus life, skill and leadership development, and career services. In this new and emerging model, there are endless ways in which student affairs professional might marry an interest in student support and integrate the broad range of skill sets developed in student affairs preparation programs.

In similar fashion, as Universities services and support structures expand beyond the physical campus and therefore to a wider audience of learners, higher education professionals must expand and reposition their toolkit and knowledge to address the new realities of the learning environment and students, which in some cases mean considering roles that are no longer “on campus.”

I believe that preparation of the next wave of higher education pros is preparation for the future of work more generally; one that is impacted by changing job responsibilities because of automation, evolves with and considers the democratizing of learning and unbundling of the University’s programs, offerings, and services, while also aligning its’ offerings for the realities of the evolving population of learners to prepare them for the workforce.

A few implications begin to emerge in this future state:

  • Purely ‘administrative’ aspects (that is, routine, predictable work like reporting) will become less a part of the role of the job description of student affairs professionals in light of automation
  • Student affairs pros as we know them today may work directly for a single University less and less, or at least less frequently on a traditional campus in light of organizations serving a network of Universities centrally
  • Professionals might be prepared in a wider array of “preparation” programs, deferring formal pursuit of an advanced degree by gaining certifications in specific specialty areas that reflect deep knowledge in areas like coaching, counseling, or curriculum development set in the context of the needs of the new and emerging learner profile.

With the necessity facing student affairs programs to prepare graduate students for the realities of their graduates’ job prospects in light of the “unbundled” university, how might the skills that graduate programs address in their curriculum continue to evolve and adapt?

I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. Share your reactions in the comments below!

Student Affairs Administrators without a Campus – Envisioning Careers in Student Affairs in the Emerging Future

With Careers in Student Affairs month (and my participation in the Defectors Series) upon us, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my pathway as an education administrator, and how that continues to shape my point of view as a higher education professional and educator.  I’ve said it before, but when I started my Master’s degree at Texas A&M, I was confident that I would spend my career working for Universities.  And while I did start my career working on a college campus, living on through my graduate school experience as a hall director and serving as a leadership educator in my first role out of grad school, it wasn’t long before I made a few transitions, into education technology...and then technology education, now using design thinking and other tools to design education toward the future of work.

Since working at a traditional University in residence life, orientation, student activities, and leadership development, I’ve spent time on dozens of college campuses working with hundreds of higher education administrators as a technology trainer, student success consultant, speaker, and workshop facilitator.

I’m grateful to say that I’ve also spent a fair bit of time working with high school and college students over those years as well. And this “non-traditional” navigation of higher education administration work continues to prompt thinking about the ways that higher education is continuing to evolve in light of the transformation that’s taking place around what students expect out of their “on-campus” experience, as well as the continually expanding range of roles that folks with a background in student affairs administration are equipped to serve without ever stepping foot on a traditional campus.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my thinking on the points of evolution that student affairs administrators and preparation programs might consider in light of the emerging trends and future of higher education.

This new video outlining “The Networked University” is built and introduced from the students’ point of view. But what might the evolution of student affairs and experience of student affairs administrators look like in light of this new future?


Does your campus have a ‘student experience’ problem?

Negotiating the policies, process, and services of a college campus can be difficult for even the most tenured staff as organizational structures shift, roles and departments evolve, and priorities change.  Yet there’s an important, yet often overlooked component of these changes: the student experience.

We often talk about student experience as an intangible summary feeling from students by engaging the university– the spirit and connection to the community, the opportunities for students to grow through high impact practices, and the function of specific campus departments to focus on ‘creating a positive environment’ for students.  But consider this– Have you ever been on the phone with your cable provider contesting a charge on a recent bill? That becomes part of your customer experience.  The student experience is one, unifying view of campus ushered through hundreds of small interactions with phone calls, buildings, systems, departments, administrators across the campus.  Student experience is all of these– manifested through a set of interactions with staff, with policies, and with the campus infrastructure as a whole that all contribute to a larger student journey.

Have you ever called a high traffic department to explore what experiencing life from the student’s point of view might look like? Better still, have you spoken with students about the greatest pain points that they experience in engaging with the university?

I’m not suggesting that a campus be overhauled to be solely focused on the path of least resistance for students as its’ only ‘user’– it’s obvious that some experiences by their very function might not be intended to “optimize” the student’s interaction with them, and the stakeholders of a University are widely varied the complexity of which makes the concept of addressing the student experience difficult and complex. What I am saying, however, is that every area of the university should be aware of the variety of stakeholders they interact with, including students, and address the nuances within their needs in a way that acknowledges where unintended and unnecessary barriers or pain points exist and strives to remove them.

What’s more, is that doesn’t mean a new system, policy, or cost is the answer– it might be a thoughtful review and redesign of a form, or reformatting the response when contacting into your department. It’s simply about understanding and considering the student experience, their journey, in their interaction with the university, getting underneath the pain points that exist, and thinking creatively about how to solve the identified challenges.

Don’t underestimate the impact that you have– we’re all “experience” designers. Each encounter with a student is an opportunity to observe and react.  The skill sets that make strong education administrators: engagement with students through empathy, a growth mindset, counseling and listening skills, asking for formal and informal feedback, an investment in helping students succeed; these are the raw materials of human-centered design in higher education (along with a set of tools informed by design thinking or service design; follow my colleague Alex who digs into this topic often). Orienting the campus to the concepts of human-centered design, and rigorously reviewing the campus through the lens of your student makes a difference. Especially as that student is changing.

I’ll go so far that in the current landscape of higher education, those with the most deliberate focus on the holistic student experience will see more students graduate, and those who fail to adapt will struggle. Think student experience is independent of outcomes?

In Tressie McMillan’s Lower Ed, she describes ways for-profit university practices are oriented around making the process easy for their target (historically under-represented, low-income) students to enroll and carry large amounts of loans, pointing out the moral and social implications of huge amounts of stacked debt. While demonstrably predatory and negative, they’ve optimized their lens and approach to the student enrollment experience to their benefit.

For-profits enroll a huge number of students because of the way they have considered, tailored, and adapted their message and processes to adapt their message and process for their target student and make things as easy as possible for them to enroll. This isn’t a blanket call for these kinds of practices to be adopted outside of the for-profit world, but rather an example of the impact that purposeful design has on outcomes.

In a recent NPR interview, McMillan was asked about the emergent trend of inexpensive online education, which illuminated an important observation:

“There’s almost nothing we could do to traditional higher ed to make it more accessible [for working adults] that wouldn’t make it better for traditional students as well. So I worry we are adopting the practices [of for profits] without really changing how we do business.

This is the imperative in the years ahead as student demographics continue to shift, and “non-traditional” students increasingly become the largest percentage of college students attending universities– adapting to this new archetype and persona of student, and adapting the student experience not only on campus, but wherever your students interact with the university.

What does your student experience look like today?

How might you design your campus’ experience for the students of tomorrow?

Building Education’s Future

First, a little about me.  This isn’t a story about me, it’s about something much bigger- but I think setting the stage for where a community grew out from might just make it more real.

When I moved to DC in 2013 to join EAB, I was excited to contribute to a growing movement focused on student success, enabling advising at institutions like MTSU with predictive data and organizing institutional efforts around the use of data and technology to help students succeed. With this broadening perspective around the forces at work within higher education around enrollment, alternative pathways, and evolving relationship we have with learning in the context of work, I began to watch and explore the emerging trends.

Doing so, I decided to pursue a next step leading the DC Campus of The Iron Yard, a coding bootcamp, to see one expression of these trends first-hand. Now, a month into my work at the Education Design Lab, the macro-view across pathways had me thinking about how valuable it is to step into that view and perspective of education to ask fundamental questions, and reframe our thinking about the goals and values of education.

Enter Grant. Grant is a friend and former colleague from EAB. Every time he and I get together, there’s an energy that’s created around the momentum and promise that education has today, talking about:

  • the way that technology influences it’s direction and evolution,
  • the way that new delivery models are changing the way that people fundamentally approach learning and ongoing development;
  • the way that technology is fundamentally changing the economy and labor market, forcing us to reevaluate the skills people need to thrive in the 21st century, forcing education to adapt.

There are so many forces moving at such an incredible rate- there’s a lot to keep tabs on, get excited about (and adapt to) if you’re making a career out of the education space. He and I can hardly keep up with one another.

And since Grant and I have enjoyed these conversations, we wondered if there might be other people who might be interested in joining in as well. So we launched Education Experience Design DC to fill in a hole for discussions somewhere at the intersection of edtech, education policy, education administration, design thinking, user experience, and service design.

In short, we wanted to figured out how we can bring forward more discussions around the way we design policies, ecosystems, and technologies around the student, and what that shift might mean for the future of the future design, features, and function of education?

Further, what if we had a space to bring together people who were deliberately thinking about this leading edge of education design and innovation, and are building practices into their work? Grant and I decided that was a place that we wanted to be…and that it didn’t already exist. So we set it up. As our meetup espouses:

We’re bringing together education innovators working in every segment of education: educators, policy makers, administrators, design, and edtech pros for conversation, skill building, and sharing best practices around preparing students for success in the future of education and beyond. Expect a little bit of show + tell, a little bit of book club, and great connections.

With nearly a hundred members coming together in just a few days, with the vision, now comes the execution; and I’m hoping that it might inspire and provoke those who see themselves invested in being part of this movement to stand up and raise their hand in one way or another. If that’s you, Grant and I have a few favors to ask (after you go and join the Meetup group, that is).

  • We need a space (ideally, free) to bring together this bunch of education innovators.
  • We want to build the network of folks involved, and find presenters and facilitators who are interested in provoking a conversation, leading a workshop, or presenting their vision for the future of education.
  • We’d love to find creative ways to document the conversations that take place to share them beyond the limitations of space and time at our events.
  • We’d love a sponsor to help keep the lights on to list our Meetup page, to support our speaker’s (in-kind buys of books, gear, or the like), supplies, and to help feed the (hopeful) masses as people join us on the journey.  We’ll likely ask for a couple of bucks to hold your seat as a show of good faith and a commitment to the community, but unfortunately it will take more than that to feed the crowd.

We know they’re big asks, but to chase after work that can bring such an important group together to have big discussions around the future of education, Grant and I are willing to step up and be the advocates for that space.

So, with that:

Have a space you’re willing to offer up? Know a presenter who would be compelling in front of this group of education innovators? Think your company might be willing to pitch in and sponsor an event or a series? Want to give your time and talents?

Send Grant or I a message, and let’s get started!

Designing education toward the future of work

Pressed on the question, I’ve never been sure what my journey in higher education would look like. When I was entering grad school I described it as working directly with students, at EAB it was about influencing higher education from the private sector through technology, and when I joined The Iron Yard I was most excited about the breadth of influence and the exploration of a new education model.  

Regardless of where I was working, one thing always eventually became clear: my interest in the field of higher education expanded beyond any one application. What’s more, my strengths in defining and executing strategy over operational goals consistently influence my energy and engagement.  That said, each step was important. Each step continued to light a pathway that would have otherwise been foreign and unknown, unlocked new ways to approach my career, my work, and my goals, and my perspective.  

Thankfully (and painstakingly), I’ve since discovered that my work will always land somewhere in the intersection of education, technology, student success, and leadership. They summarize the themes, goals, and driving forces behind every move I’ve made so far…with the right reserved to change my mind as I see fit (realistic, right?).

With that, the next path in that journey has presented itself. This month I’m joining the Education Design Lab team to work with traditional and non-traditional higher education institutions, entrepreneurs in edtech, nonprofits serving the space, and foundations attempting to scale impact to create human-centered solutions using design thinking (which I’ve mentioned a little about, as have others; wink wink nudge nudge Dustin Ramsdell, and I’ll be sharing lots more on in the weeks and months ahead) to design education for the future of work. The work they’re doing is just impressive. I’ve watched their work from afar, and when paths cross fortuitously (a story for another time), it’s hard to ignore.

So presented with the opportunity to serve as a designer, facilitator, trainer, and strategic advisor, it’s humbling to consider the ways in which my role might help to encourage and guide changes to assist students successfully through their educational pursuits, and be prepared for their careers and life afterwards.

My work will start by exploring alternate conceptions of the bootcamp space, engaging change management for the implementations of edtechs, and beyond– I’m so excited to get started!

The first 60 days: A retrospective

I’ve officially completed my first two months at The Iron Yard. I’ve moved the campus to a location across the hall from our permanent space, navigated the halfway point through graduation of my first student cohort, built connections with our existing and growing advisory board of local tech companies, and continued to develop our strategy for engaging our next cohort of students starting this October.

I’ve connected with tech influencers and reporters in DC, developed the foundation for additional partnerships for the DC Campus, and assisted with the expansion of the DC operations and team.  I’ve attended meetups, met with representatives across higher education, non-profits, k-12 education, local and national government, business developers, recruiters, developers, and even started writing a little code myself.

crashcourse_brianfleduc_codingI’ve navigated everything from difficult student conversations, regulatory visits, and challenges with furniture deliveries.This role feels like the synthesis of the broad range of my experiences, requiring operational acumen, relationship management, community engagement, student support, marketing and branding.

And despite being challenging and frustrating (as any fire hose of new information and experiences can be) at times,it’s been a blast.

I look forward to this week, and to “Demo Day“– the “reveal” of our student’s work to the DC technology community to an audience of more than 50- one that serves as the physical representation of the network, community, and connections that I’ve been so lucky to build through meetups, coffee, emails, and social media over the last two months.

What’s more, I’m excited for the work ahead at The Iron Yard, and the dedication and commitment to increasing diversity in technology that’s been shared and supported by the highest ranks of our government.  A bright path is ahead!

My Next Step

IMG_0747It’s hard to believe that over 2 and a half years ago I packed up my life in Georgia and made my way to DC- it feels like it’s been home for so much longer than that. Even moreso, I’m thankful to have spent that time working for a firm doing some of the most innovative work in higher education research and technology.  I’ve learned an incredible amount during my time at EAB, and had the opportunity to work with so many amazing teammates both here and across dozens of Universities. I presented and sat across the table from Board of Trustee members, Presidents, and Provosts, Deans, Faculty, Academic Advisors, Tutors, and my student affairs counterparts at large, flagship state universities and small private institutions alike.

The experience was a lesson in life outside of higher ed while getting the crash course in what makes an academic leader tick.  I’m so thankful for the relationships, skills, and opportunities that resulted; a polish of presentation, relationship and project management, case study design, data analysis, and so many others- it afforded me chances to maintain my professional networks in ACPA and NASPA, and expand into terrain as foreign as improv with courses by The Second City.  I faced some of my greatest professional hurdles as I adapted to an entirely new type of organizational culture and became acquainted with a host of new skill sets. I watched as Universities I worked with closely were highlighted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, and Inside Higher Ed, and had the opportunity to present in front of the most senior ranks of leadership at The Advisory Board Company including its’ CEO.

That said, when opportunities knock that are impossible to ignore, I answer.  So a jump is in the works– next week I’ll be starting as the Campus Director at the DC Campus of The Iron Yard, an international code academy providing 12-week immersive boot camps to folks interested in learning front-end or back-end development. I’ll be the voice of TIY in DC, responsible for the entire student lifecycle (from recruitment to job placement in tech firms across the DMV area), operations of the campus, and support of the instructor and operations teams- a natural synthesis across my residence life, student services, advising, and student success experiences alongside my exposure to tech through EAB.

It’s an opportunity to work with non-traditional career changers as an advisor, career coach, and cheerleader, while broadening and honing skill sets to carry me forward.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suspect that higher education and the private sector are likely to discover points of intersection by way of enrollment and partnership, and I look forward to building my skill set and background with the ability to influence and shape that future!

The New World of Higher Education Administrators (that don’t work at your University)

Since my transition from a “traditional pathway” in higher education administration working for a University, I’ve become more and more sensitive to the various ways that future higher education leaders are building and complimenting their higher education experiences with valuable skill sets in other industries while maintaining their connection to serving higher education.

It seems, at least in part, this is the result of “The Outsourced College” which Dave Jarrat of InsideTrack notes, is the result of “[universities]…going through a process of discovery of determining what is their core competency — what do they want to own — and what services are available that they can leverage.”

Since leaving my work as  an administrator on a college campus nearly 3 years ago, I’ve spoken to dozens of young pros and graduate students and read several stories of folks who are interested in a change of pace, exploring alternative pathways to specific skill sets, or anticipating the changes across the industry, and I wonder what the long-term impacts of this evolution might be.  When they leave, where do they go, and will they come back? And if they don’t what are the implications of this for the field as a whole?

While the Bureau Labor Statistics projects “faster than average growth” in Postsecondary Education Administrator jobs across the next 8 years, as this reflects a median salary of 88K, I suspect that the type of role that sits in this category is likely representative of senior administration rather than the field at large.  In fact, Master’s degrees across a variety of Education, Teaching, and Curriculum disciplines were rated by PayScale as among the “worst” degrees in 2016 given their long-term growth, median salary, and job satisfaction and stress.

Maybe better than observing that pros are leaving or exploring when they leave, is asking questions around why they’re leaving. Many (state) Universities establish long-term benefits related to tenure in Teacher Retirement Systems, as well as tuition reimbursements, but fall short when it comes to the incremental pay, incentives, and title increases that categorize growth and engagement– the ladder for growth and engagement at the University isn’t clear, and isn’t aligned with evaluation metrics or incentives.

Furthermore, it’s all too often that colleagues joke with me about their limited job growth because of department leaders who have held their seat for a significant portion of their career.  It leaves little room for a fresh, young, idealistic, energetic employee interested in confronting systemic problems or complex challenges at the University.  It creates tension around forcing the new kids on the block to either “find their counterparts” and advocate for grassroots change to make their own way or “wait their turn.”  The result? Young, fresh, enthusiastic pros honing their skills at one University to lead at another while incrementally climb the ladder while skipping across states and functional areas.

But before we entertain the critiques on millenials as “job hoppers,” let’s take a look at the data aside from some exceptionally good summative points; namely that  “we should be looking at our business practices and our human capital strategies. If we’re seeing turnover rise in roles that are traditionally held by people who are 20-34, it’s not them. It’s us,” a review of BLS data shows that “job hopping” is no more prevalent in practical terms today than it was for either Gen X or Boomers, and it raises some tough questions:

  • How does higher education adjust incentives to align with known practices to increase employee retention? Is this an acknowledged risk, problem or priority?
  • How do hiring practices within higher education react to pauses or punctuated experience in traditional higher education roles? What is the hiring process reaction to “outsiders?”
  • What does higher education risk or sacrifice by undervaluing experiences tangentially related to the  industry?

In many fields, the type of job retention stats outlined above might be easily overlooked, noting that middle management is remaining in positions once they’ve settle into their career and a company that they’ll spend a significant portion of their career in, and retire (those same folks that entry level professional look at occupying positions they long to occupy) from; but there’s a nuance that may be easily overlooked in higher ed.  Those same entry-level professionals churning based on their lack of growth, opportunity, or new challenges are the same pros who are on the front-lines working with students who senior administrators largely depend on to support and ensure a students’ success.

A students’ dissatisfaction reflects a bad conversation with an academic advisor, or a organization advisor that exits mid-semester– and the moral imperative and emotional connection that we invest in watching students succeed ultimately won’t keep staff who yearn to achieve in seat for very long (without the right tools for engagement).

While I work as a higher education consultant supporting student success through the strategy and implementation of a technology, I still consider myself a higher education administrator at heart, and I haven’t seen my last day working directly for a University. But before it will reenter my realm of consideration, a cultural shift will have emerged that reflects the need to approach problems in innovative ways, take risks, fail smart, and adapt to the workforce and cultural needs that it supports.

And it’s clear that I’m not alone.  I’ve seen an incredible number of members of the student affairs community online engaging in this discussion, exploring opportunities, and taking the leap from traditional work in student affairs to engaging their skills gained in education administration in new ways.  What’s more is they are met with an expansive, and growing market of opportunities.  Young  startups companies who have a product but need a terrain expert with a strong network.  And technology companies are already more heavily recruiting professionals with liberal arts, humanities, and other ‘non-technical’ backgrounds because of their ability to “connect with end users and figure out what they want.”  If you’re curious, EdSurge has created a guide outlining research and resources to make the leap.

Taken in sum with the evolving trends of the “outsourcing” within higher education, the result is a more competitive job market for the attentions and talents of student affairs pros to engage their skills in a different way within higher education, and an  industry that may increasingly require the ability to engage meaningfully with other sectors that support what represent core student affairs functions today as Dave outlined above.

So with the question below at-hand; what changes do you think need to be made to engage this evolving climate?

The Number One Challenge Students and Organizational Advisors are Facing, and Other Insights

As you might have seen, I’ve been investigating the concept of the Advisor Role in Organizational Development and Growth through a surveys on Facebook and Twitter to better understand the depth of understanding that advisors have around organizational challenges, as well as their preparedness and approaches to assist student organizations to overcome the challenges that they are experiencing.  I’m  still unpacking the results as a whole, but there are a few insights that I thought might be interesting, and would generate some meaningful fodder along the way.

Before I start, what I didn’t mention is that I’ve also been pursuing student reactions around these same questions (both via survey and more qualitatively through one-on-one interviews), and a few interesting things are bubbling to the surface.

Most Organization Advisors Surveyed have between 4-6 and 10+ years experience

There were two larger groups that emerged from the survey respondents– professionals with between 4-6 years experience, and 10+ years experience, with a significant majority (95%) classifying themselves as Student Affairs Administrators (n=20).

Advisors and Students Agree Around Primary Organizational Challenge
Of the challenges shared in the qualitative responses from Advisors, I coded 6 primary categories of organizational challenges that I then shared across several different Facebook groups (full of Student Organization Advisors, and students, respectively).  Combining these responses, there were two organizational challenges that far outweighed others in frequency, with nearly one-third of Organization Advisors, and nearly half of student leaders, identifying Member Retention being the primary organizational challenge that their organization is facing.
Inline image 1
Advisor Survey Results (n=123)
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Student Survey Results (n=42)







Advisors Feel Confident they Understand Student Organization Challenges, Less feel Comfortable Facing Them

While 70% of advisors “Strongly Agree” that they understand the problems facing their organization, the majority of advisors felt less comfortable in their ability to assist students in facing those challenges, and about half of advisors said they have a defined plan in place to  confront challenges facing their organizations (n=23).


Moreover, when asked how they confront the challenges that their organizations are facing, the  answers varied widely, and rarely incorporated specific frameworks.  With that said, the most common approaches involved students in “brainstorming” solutions.

These insights represent just the beginning of my exploration of the topic (both in research, and in synthesis).  I have a framework and a theory in mind that I believe can serve as the starting point to effectively equip student organization advisors, and students, to confront the challenges that they’ve identified in their organizations.


The Role of an Advisor in Organizational Growth and Development

I’ve had a lot of nudges thinking back to my work directly with students over the last week or so (including Stanford’s work using Design Thinking to completely reimagine the future of higher education and Christina Wellhouser’s post on Leaving Higher Ed), and I think about how different my work and its style looks now compared to the way it did as a a student affairs professional.  I realize that I now approach at my work from an entirely different place (partially given the scale and scope of the initiatives we’re focused on), having stepped into a consultative role with President’s and Provosts – but all it largely starts with identifying, agreeing upon, and understanding an agreed problem that we’re trying to solve.

There are a lot of different ways to approach getting to an initial problem and root cause, so I’m not going to focus on the philosophical approach that we take in the process of solving a problem- yet.

But given my background in student activities and leadership development, I couldn’t help but be drawn into focus on my current approach to problem solving compared to my approach when I was directly advising students.  Given the difference in audience between role, the style that is used to solve problems is likely to adapt, but the approach may have some consistency regardless of the context– and that’s what I’m curious about across advisors on your campus.

Often referred to as the place that we “get students involved,” there are an incredible number of opportunities to engage students in learning and skill development outside of the classroom, often focused around critical thinking and problem solving.  I’ve long thought of student involvement as a “leadership lab,” but continue to believe that there is still work to be done— and I’m interested in learning more about the landscape with all of you, and sharing my hypotheses, lessons, and prototypes along the way.

So, if you’re willing, tell me more about your approach to advising student organizations to facilitate their development, and share the link to the form below with other student organization advisors on your campus (find some scripting to copy/paste into an email below)- this is just the beginning




A colleague of mine is hoping to learn more about how we understand, engage, and initiate organizational growth and development for student’s in organizations that we advise.  Click here to take the 10 question survey (only takes about 7 minutes), and you can read more background around him and his work here.