I. Questions I Wanted to Answer:
a.) How do I create and manage a budget that supports student affairs programs or services?
b.) What are the policies and procedures surrounding the hiring, supervising, and evaluating of employee performance, particularly regarding employees in student affairs divisions?
c.) What are the specific organizational structures found within students affairs? What benefits and limitations do they have?
d.) Which legal issues inform and guide student affairs practices?
e.) How can I best describe and identify the administrative strategies that try and bring congruence between campus climate goals and realities?
II. Introduction (What Did I Already Know?)
While I have not had specific experience with budget development or management within a student affairs context, I have had to manage numerous budgets, particularly during my time with AmeriCorps and in my personal life. I came to graduate school with a thorough understanding of the intricate planning that must be done in order to ensure that both expected and unplanned expenses can be accounted for. I am aware of the meticulous paperwork that often needs to be kept in order to document expenses and receive reimbursements. I understand that one must be willing to articulate the reasons why they buy particular things and be willing to compromise and narrow their needs in order to comply with the greater needs of an organization.
I had also had a small bit of experience in the hiring, supervising, and evaluating employees . As an orientation leader at my undergraduate institution I was part of the hiring and supervisory team during my second year on staff. I sat in on approximately half of the interviews and helped pick the new team members. I was also involved in training the new staff in several of our office duties and well as helping them become comfortable and aware of their duties on orientation days. As a Team Leader with AmeriCorps, I was in charge of the daily supervision and evaluation of 9 young adults. I was also responsible for providing them with official reviews of their performance every 2 to 3 months.
I had no experience with student affairs organizational structures, legal issues or campus climate issues before coming to graduate school. However, I did have an evolving theory on leadership which is provided here
III. Hypothesis (What did I think the answers would be?)
a.) Creating and maintaining a student affairs budget is similar to any other kind of budget. The goal is to be in the black, not the red. Plain and simple
b.) Hiring is a complicated process. It involves lots of attention to policy and procedure and takes a long time. Hiring student affairs professionals should take a lot of time because many positions require a great deal of time, energy and compassion for students and it takes time to figure out whether a candidate is a good fit for a university or college.
c.) Different types of colleges (large vs. small, public vs. private, community college vs. 4-year) have different organizational structures because their missions are different. All organizational structures have benefits and weaknesses, but a few must be the best overall
d.) The legal issues that guide the practice focus on student safety, keeping students’ information confidential and keeping universities and colleges from being sued.
e.) There are numerous campus climate issues and almost as many administrative strategies for addressing them. Because there are so many, some of these administrative strategies are in contradict one another.
IV. Methods and Materials (How Did I Learn?)
AHE 599 Budget and Finance
AHE 553 Organization and Administration
AHE 551 Programs and Functions
Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession
AHE 553 Organization and Adminstration
One Size Does Not Fit All
d.) and e.)
AHE 554 Legal Issues in Higher Education
V. Data and Analysis (What Did I Learn and How Do I Know I Learned It?)
a.) Budget Matters
d.) Legal Issues
VI. Conclusions (How will I use what I learned?)
I think that the greatest connection that I currently see between all of these subcategories is the fact that you can gauge a lot about an institution by the way that people that work there address these issues. Particularly when it comes to student affairs work, I want to see the hiring of staff be a thoughful and intentional process. I want supervision and evaluation to be based in the understanding of human development as mirrored by student development theories. I think that leading means challenging and supporting and engaging those that work for me. Organizational structures that allow for feedback, professional growth through challenges and mistakes, and cross-department collaboration are the ones that are most likely to address critical issues as they arise. They are also the ones most likely to come across and address legal matters before they turn into lawsuits. Lastly, organizational structure will ultimately determine whether administrative actions to address campus issues will be successful or fail due to lack of trust, communication, and collaboration.