Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Many people have been asking me, why did I choose to spend my summer at NASPA? Why not find work on a campus in orientation or housing? When I started my search for a summer internship, that is exactly where I started. I thought I should broaden my horizon and leave the Fraternity and Sorority Life work behind for the summer, so I began to turn to orientation and housing internships. As I began to apply, however, I saw the announcement for the NASPA summer internship. While orientation and housing internships would expose me to new areas of the standard student affairs division on a campus, a NASPA internship would expose me to a whole other side of the profession. While we very often think of student affairs as being a campus-based profession, there is so much that goes on off campus – through professional organizations, vendors, private organizations (ie: LeaderShape, inter/national fraternity headquarters) – all of which the profession could not succeed without. I thought an internship at NASPA would be a neat opportunity to experience the off-campus aspect of student affairs, especially looking at the role that the leading student affairs professional organization plays in the field.

But I’m just spending 2 quick months at NASPA and will return to a campus very soon, which is nothing compared to the professionals who dedicate their careers to NASPA, some of which have been on the NASPA staff for ten plus years. When I started in the office almost a month ago, one of my favorite questions to ask each staff member was “so how did you end up at NASPA?” In a field that many assume is just about what happens on campus, what made these professionals decide to leave the campus setting to come to NASPA?

So, I pose that question to the NASPA staff and am asking them to comment on this blog. Why NASPA?

Monday, June 16, 2008


NASPA is its members. You hear that every day in NASPA.

And it is true. The 11,000+ graduate students, new professionals, seasoned professionals, vice presidents, and former student affairs professionals that make up NASPA is what this organization is all about. It’s about bringing all of these people together to provide support, resources, and professional development for each other, to ensure that we all perform to our highest capability in what it is we do: foster holistic growth of our students. To do all of this, NASPA has a board of directors, a staff, and thousands of volunteers implementing a countless array of programs and services.

The People
NASPA is governed by a 22-person board of directors. The board is made up of regional vice presidents, division directors, members-at-large, the Foundation president, the annual conference chair, and the executive committee. The executive committee, the leading group of the board and NASPA, consists of the president, the past president, the president-elect, and the top two members of the NASPA staff (the executive director and the associate executive director). The president of NASPA is a three-year term – the first year you serve as president-elect, shadowing the president and learning everything you need to know. The second year you serve as the president, and the third year you serve as the past president, providing the president with support and guidance. This three-year program helps to provide an effective and smooth transition.

The regional vice presidents oversee each of the seven regions. The country is broken into seven regions, each region having their own conferences and programs. This allows for strong grassroots efforts, making the association feel smaller and more close-knit on the local level. You often hear NASPA leaders call the regions the “heart” of NASPA – as it’s the through the regions that one is really able to help shape and impact the association.

Divisions are areas of particular focus that the board wants to focus on. NASPA has six divisions, each one led by the division director. These divisions include knowledge communities (these are 21 topical focused groups that members can join), research, small colleges and universities, public policy, professional standards, and community colleges.

These board of directors, division directors, and hundreds of other volunteers are just that – volunteers. These are new professionals, seasoned professionals, and chief student affairs officers, all with full-time campus jobs. Therefore, the people of NASPA also includes the NASPA staff. 21 full-time professionals make up the staff of NASPA’s national office, located in Washington, D.C. These professionals, many of which have years of distinguished backgrounds in student affairs, work to implement the vision of the board and the members, as well as exist to help support and advise the board and members.

Professional Development, Policy, Advocacy
These are the three things that NASPA does. Professional Development, Policy, Advocacy. The association does this day in and day out, and does it all aligned with the NASPA mission.

Professional development is what we as student affairs professionals need and should seek out in order to be lifelong learners and always knowledgeable of the latest issues and best practices of the field. NASPA is where we can turn for this! In addition to the overwhelming array of conferences and workshops NASPA sponsors (and yes, there are many more conferences throughout the year than just the annual conference), professional development also entails a large array of publications. Publications include books, research articles, journals, newsletters, magazines – all of which cover the latest topics and research of the profession and are published by NASPA.

With the national office located in Washington, D.C., NASPA has a unique opportunity to influence legislature policy that influences higher education and specifically student affairs. In addition to the policy division, NASPA employs a full-time public policy specialist, as well as contracts out a lobbyist. This allows NASPA to stay on top of any new policy that may influence our profession and gives us the chance to step-in and provide the student-affairs perspective on the Hill. More on this in a later blog, possibly!

And finally, NASPA serves as an advocate for our profession. You will see the slogan “The Leading Voice for Student Affairs Administration, Policy, and Practice” branded on many of the associations materials. This pretty much sums up everything this organization does! NASPA primarily exists to promote the student affairs profession and the development of the whole person during an individual’s collegiate experience. Gwen Dungy, executive director of NASPA, spends most of her time traveling throughout the country speaking on the profession. Her main responsibility is to be that “voice” of the profession. She not only educates and enhances the life-long learning of current student affairs professionals, but she also talks to non-student affairs constituents, spreading the word about what we do to gain support for our endeavors.

Professional Development, Policy, and Advocacy. So, for those of you who may have thought that NASPA was an annual conference that happens every March (I may have been one of those myself at one time), think again. NASPA is about a lot more than just one conference!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Hello fellow Grads!

So, I will begin this blog with 2 confessions:

  1. I have never done a blog before and am just learning the ins and outs of blogging!
  2. I am no more of a NASPA expert than any of you, but hope to do my best to provide you with an inside perspective to what may seem like a complex and overwhelming organization to many of us.

That being said, I don’t really know where to begin since I am new to this blogging thing! But I guess I’ll begin with a quick introduction.

My name is Tyler, and I have just finished my first year in the Higher Education Administration program at the University of Kansas. I’m originally from Massachusetts and just graduated from Denison University in 2007 – a small liberal arts college in central Ohio.

As an undergraduate student, I spent much of my time recolonizing a chapter of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. I was very involved with both the colony and the fraternity community. Outside of the fraternity, I interned in the admissions office for all four years. I was a sociology major and completed a senior thesis focused on men's identity development and explored ways that student affairs professionals can actively engage men to reverse the trend of male apathy on college campuses – a big interest of mine! All these experiences combined played a major role in showing me the type of development that can happen during the college years, and led me to the decision to pursue a career in student affairs.

At KU, I work in the Student Involvement and Leadership Center on the Fraternity and Sorority Life Staff. I am very passionate about the Fraternal Movement and plan on working with fraternities and sororities professionally after graduation!

Now…onto why I’m here and why I’m blogging!

This summer I have the opportunity to intern in the NASPA Office, down in our nations capital. The purpose of the internship is to provide a current graduate student in the field the opportunity to learn about NASPA and the role it plays in higher education, as well as provide NASPA with a little extra help for the summer!

I am very excited for this opportunity and hope to get a lot out of the experience. I think a good place to start with my hopes for this experience is by sharing with you the goals I set myself in my proposal to receive class credit from this internship. I submitted the following 5 goals to my professor:

I will gain broad insight into the mission and vision, structure and organization, and programs and services that the largest professional association for student affairs administrators provides its individual members and member institutions.

  • I will learn and experience the daily operations of the NASPA office.
  • I will meet and build relationships with the leaders of NASPA.
  • I will gain work-related experience in a non-profit professional organization.
  • I will introduce fellow graduate students to NASPA by keeping them informed of my experience via an online blog.

Together, these objectives will cumulate to provide me with an experience that will teach me the role NASPA plays in the profession of student affairs, and how I, as an aspiring professional, should take advantage of the organization as I begin my career.

And the 5th goal, is where you come in! NASPA wants to use this internship as an opportunity to reach out to the entire graduate population of the organization. Living vicariously through my blog, I hope you will be able to learn the role NASPA plays in the profession as well. I want this to be just as much of a learning experience for you, as it will be for me.

That being said, I plan on posting a blog on a weekly basis – each week providing you insight to a different area of NASPA. At any time during the summer, please feel free to reach out to me to ask questions, request me to talk about a specific topic, or to just comment on a post. My ultimate goal with this blog is to help you gain the confidence and skills necessary to become a successful navigator of NASPA as you begin a career in this profession!

Next week I’ll begin by posting an introduction to NASPA. A little NASPA 101. I’m just beginning my second week in the office, and I have already learned more than I could ever imagine. There is quite a bit to this association, and I’m excited to begin sharing with you the structure and philosophy of this impressive organization of which we are all apart of.

Until then, let me know if you have any thoughts or special requests!