I just got back from ACPA and have been completely fired up by the experience. I did not attend many sessions as I was doing a lot of reconnecting and stuff with the Commission for Student Involvement, but one session that I attended has put me in a tizzy, in a good way. As you may have read from my previous posts, I am currently serving as interim director for my office. It has been a great experience and one that has also carried some frustration. Being in California and higher education is really tough right now, similar to how it is in other states, Michigan and Ohio in particular. Not to mention my division is going through a pretty significant restructuring. This has created a lot of tension amongst the various managers and staff which is somewhat understandable.
But back to my ACPA experience. I attended a session presented by Rob Aaron about the division-wide assessment that was occurring at IUPUI. Damn was I inspired. It was amazing to see a division of 72 professionals decide that assessment was a priority, so let’s do it. Not to mention these 72 professionals cater to a student population of 30,000. I was blown away with how things were set-up and worked. Granted IUPUI and Rob were still in the implementation and data gathering stages, but it was just amazing to see.
Ultimately, it got me thinking. We do not have someone like Rob in our division, and unfortunately, we are not in a position to hire a Rob or anyone who does assessment full-time. How else could we do it? Then I realized, why the hell don’t I throw my name in the hat. I really enjoy assessment and would like to get better at it. It is going to be vital to my potential career trajectory and it will help increase my interactions throughout the division. The rub is that I would desperately need to get other aspects of my current position removed from my plate. Essentially, I would need to farm out the student organization aspect of my position to someone else in order to free up the necessary time to do assessment and F/S life. This would be a unique position in general and one that I feel I would love. Hell I will even pay for the Student Affairs Assessment Institute out of my own pocket.
So this leads me to my risk…I am in a position that I really enjoy and I could potentially sweeten the deal even more with my proposal. In my opinion, it is ideal to propose the change now since our division is going through restructuring. There has been talk about giving our Residence Life Coordinators collateral assignments in other functional areas, so why not student organizations? This would give me the relief within my own job responsibilities to guide an assessment process for the division. I am not sure how this will be received and am nervous about potential reaction from some members of the division. In my heart of hearts, I believe it is in the best interest of the division and will ultimately help us serve our students better. I am just not sure if others will feel the same way.
In all honesty, I feel this may be a make or break moment for me in my career at my current institution. I strongly feel that this is the direction we need to be heading in as a division, and if we decide not to, then my stint here may be shorter than I initially anticipated. However, I hope that is not the case.
Our current restructuring is the opportunity we need to make assessment a stronger piece of our practice as professionals and a division. Recent occurrences at NC St. and Texas Tech have me frightened that CA schools aren’t far from similar decisions. The only thing I see being our saving grace at this point is our bargaining units, and many of those are being dissolved around the nation as well. Our division does a terrible job of telling our story on campus. We participate in national surveys that generate indirect data, but what is that really saying about how we are helping to achieve the university’s mission. The answer is absolutely nothing. We need to directly demonstrate how we are relevant and I am willing to lead the charge. The question is whether I will be allowed to take it on or not.
Until next time…