2024 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs


Promising Places to work logos

Now in its 11th year, Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (MPPWSA) is a national recognition that celebrates student affairs workplaces that are vibrant, diverse, supportive, and committed to staff work-life balance, professional development, and inclusive excellence. MPPWSA offers institutional leaders information that can be used to improve practices across their student affairs community, while also serving as a useful tool for employers, career services staff, and job-seekers across the country.
InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControl
Baker CollegeJamie ZamjahnRoyal Oak, MI4-yearpublic
Bridgewater State UniversityDr. Joe OraveczBridgewater, MA4-yearpublic
California State University-FresnoDr. Kent L. WillisFresno, CA4-yearpublic
California State University-Long BeachDr. Beth LesenLong Beach, CA4-yearpublic
Elon UniversityDr. Jon DooleyElon, NC4-yearprivate
Gonzaga UniversityDr. Kent PorterfieldSpokane, WA4-yearprivate
Grand Valley State UniversityDr. Jenny Hall-JonesAllendale, MI4-yearpublic
Kent State UniversityDr. Eboni PringleKent, OH4-yearpublic
Knox CollegeDr. MarQuita BarkerGalesburg, IL4-yearprivate
Lehigh UniversityDr. Ricardo HallBethlehem, PA4-yearpublic
Louisiana State UniversityDr. Brandon CommonBaton Rouge, LA4-yearpublic
New Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyDavid GreeneSocorro, NM4-yearpublic
Oregon Coast Community CollegeDr. Andres OrozNewport, OR2-yearpublic
Rhode Island School of DesignDr. Sara RothenbergerProvidence, RI4-yearprivate
Rhodes CollegeDr. Nicole J. JohnsonMemphis, TN4-yearprivate
Rowan UniversityDr. Kevin KoettGlassboro, NJ4-yearpublic
Rutgers University-New BrunswickDr. Salvador MenaPiscataway, NJ4-yearpublic
The University of Alabama at BirminghamDr. John R. Jones IIIBirmingham, AL4-yearpublic
University of California-BerkeleyDr. Stephen SuttonBerkeley, CA4-yearpublic
University of North Carolina-PembrokeDr. Jeff HowardPembroke, NC4-yearpublic
University of South Carolina-ColumbiaJ. Rex TolliverColumbia, SC4-yearpublic
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityDr. Aaron HartRichmond, VA4-yearpublic
Winston-Salem State UniversityDr. Mel Johnson-NorwoodWinston Salem, NC4-yearpublic


InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControl
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis ObispoDr. Keith HumphreySan Luis Obispo, CA4-yearpublic
Elizabeth City State UniversityDr. Gary L. BrownElizabeth, NC4-yearpublic
University of DelawareDr. José Luis RieraNewark, DE4-yearpublic
University of North Carolina-GreensboroDr. Cathy AkensGreensboro, NC4-yearpublic

There’s No “I” in MPPWSA: It Takes Teamwork to Do This Work

Believe it or not, our team gets this question all the time: who’s responsible for the institution "winning" the MPPWSA award? This question has been raised by governing board members, university presidents, provosts, and, in some cases, from senior student affairs officers themselves. Usually, the question seeks to identify the person or the office that deserves credit for earning the national recognition. After managing this project for a full decade, here’s what we have learned: “There’s no ‘I’ in MPPWSA” and there’s good reason for it. Earning this national recognition requires true teamwork and winning institutions make it a campus-wide priority.

It may sound cliché, but achieving diversity is everyone’s job. No single person or unit can do it all, nor should they. It takes a village — well, a team — to promote diversity, achieve equity, foster inclusion, pursue justice, and boost belonging in higher education workplaces, including student affairs. These terms must be more than buzzwords and deeply infuse day-to-day operations, campus policies, HR practices, and business intelligence. Winning institutions know the difference between them and use that understanding to bring talented people in as staff and leaders, to remove systemic barriers that shut some people out, and to ensure that all staff members feel heard, seen, and visible as reflected in the institution’s staff profile, equitable pay structure, core values, and DEI practices, to give a few examples.

There are many versions of this in the public domain, but we present this as a basic guide for readers. Diversity asks: Who’s present? Equity asks: Who’s (still) attempting to enter the room but can’t? What obstacles exist, seen and unseen? Inclusion asks: Are all people’s opinions heard, valued, and understood? Belonging asks: Does everyone in the room feel respected and free to be themselves, just as they are? Justice asks: How, or why, are our systems harming or limiting people? How do we fix them? And, all of these come together in a way that leads to action to achieve positive results, while paying attention to people’s experiences along the way.

Promising Places create a culture of evidence-based decisionmaking that leads to implementation, experimentation, and even revision of promising practices, policies, and programs like those mentioned in this year’s report. It’s not that they do one thing well, but they have developed a constellation of supportive policies, equity-minded practices, and cutting-edge DEI practices that provide employees, particularly those in student affairs, with a positive work environment, equitable pay, opportunities for advancement, and meaningful work that contributes to the institution’s bottom line and their personal/professional goals.

On many campuses, promising practices, programs, and services are "housed" across divisions. They’re in human resources and talent management. Diversity and inclusion. Academic and student affairs. Athletics and intramural sports, to name a few. So, the answer to the question "who’s responsible" is simple: everyone! When the institution wins, everyone wins.

Again, congratulations to this year’s highly selective set of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs!


This study was first proposed by Ralph Newell at Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as a possible partnership with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) in 2011. The ACPA Governing Board motioned for the then director of research and scholarship, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, to explore the merit and extent of this project. With input from a volunteer advisory board, the project was recommended to the governing board and approved.

Strayhorn was commissioned by ACPA and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education to serve as the project’s principal investigator. In this role, Strayhorn developed the Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (MPPWSA) Survey in consultation with experts on the project’s advisory board. The original survey was pilot-tested with a small sample of non-ACPA member institutions; feedback from the pilot-test helped to clarify survey items, correct logic sequencing, and determine the utility of our scoring algorithm.

The purpose of this commissioned study was to examine the extent to which diversity and inclusion permeates aspects of various divisions of student affairs (or equivalent) at participating ACPA-member institutions across the globe including administrative structures, core values, short- and long-term commitments, work environments, and staffing practices.


The MPPWSA survey consists of approximately 60 items, organized into 10 major sections. For example, one section elicits contact information for the survey respondent and identifying information about their respective institution (e.g., control, minority-serving institution [MSI] status). Another section includes several items to assess the structural diversity of the institution and student affairs department in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability status. There are several sections that measure the availability and extent of best-in-class support services provided to student affairs staff on campus, such as stress reduction programs, educational leave, flexible work arrangements, and professional development.

The survey was authored by Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, with input from experts on the project advisory board, and is not available in the public domain. Now part of the larger ’Promising Places to Work’ project, the survey has been administered by Strayhorn and his teams at various centers and Do Good Work Professional Consulting Group. All survey rights belong to the author. All analyses presented in this edition were conducted by Strayhorn and Dr. Royel Johnson.


We invite readers to share with us how they’re using this year’s report of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (MPPWSA). Share with us on X, Facebook, or Instagram using #PPWSA24 and tag @DiverseIssues and @ACPA.

Past editions of this annual report have been used by:

  • Accrediting agencies
  • Employers
  • Human resource managers
  • Job Seekers
  • Professional associations


    Dr. Terrell Strayhorn is professor of education and psychology at Virginia Union University (VUU), where he also serves as associate provost and interim dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. He is director of research in the VUU Center for the Study of HBCUs. Given his expertise in higher education, psychology, and his consequential research on sense of belonging, Strayhorn has visiting or adjunct appointments at several access-driven institutions. He is president and CEO of Do Good Work Professional Consulting, a research firm that partners with leading colleges and schools to improve policy and practice, as a way of ensuring all students’ success. Author of 15 books, more than 250 journal articles, chapters, and reports, Strayhorn is an internationally known student success expert, equity researcher, and public speaker. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named him an Emerging Scholar and he has received ACPA’s Emerging Scholar, Annuit Coeptis, and Diamond Honoree Awards.

    Dr. Royel Johnson is associate professor of education and social work at the University of Southern California, where he also serves as director of the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates at the USC Race and Equity Center. Johnson is a nationally recognized expert on issues of educational access, racial equity, and student success. His work has an unapologetic focus on Black and institutionally marginalized populations like those impacted by the criminal punishment, child welfare, and inequitable educational systems. He has published over 50 academic publications, and several books such as Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice. He’s been recognized by ACPA as both an Emerging Scholar and Diamond Honoree.

    This project also benefitted from the contributions of many others over the course of time who have helped contact administrators, write institutional profiles, and elicit quotations from personnel at featured institutions. These include (in alphabetical order): Stanley Gates, J’Quen Johnson, Gabriel Kim, Shay Merritte, Danny Ndungu, Anton Smith, Tiffany Steele, Daniel Thomas, and Catherine Wang. The original advisory board for this project included Drs. Tracey Cameron, Stan Carpenter, Kristen Renn, Joan Hirt, and Sue Saunders.


    Promising practices are specific, actionable insights that were gleaned from survey data and one-on-one or group interviews with teams of student affairs practitioners from the most promising places to work. These Promising Practices are not necessarily “best practices,” per se—as what works well on one campus may not achieve the same results on another. Instead, we present them as promising practices that according to annual and trend lines for MPPWSA seem to have potential for consistently producing desirable outcomes in practice.


    Beyond the development of taskforces and strategic plans for achieving diversity or inclusive excellence within their division, senior leaders at this year’s Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (MPPWSA) maintained very clear commitments to the translation and implementation of such efforts within their day-to-day operations. For example, one vice president commissioned a committee to develop a comprehensive guide for the recruitment and retention of diverse staff. Grounded in empirical research related to multiculturalism in education and social justice, this guide offers hiring committees and supervisors actionable items to follow to achieve the diversity they envision for their unit. As another example, staff are encouraged to discuss hiring goals with human resources (HR) recruiters and to request full view of candidates without pre-screening. This strategy helps ensure that all candidates are carefully considered, and it empowers the team to make decisions about who they’re looking for and the skills needed in potential applicants.

    Ensuring inclusive excellence in student affairs is hard work. It requires that we move beyond rhetoric — the mere acknowledgment that diversity is important — to action. Leaders at this year’s MPPWSA institutions have taken bold new steps for sustained transformational change within their division. We encourage SSAOs across the country to also engage in the necessary, and sometimes difficult, decision-making required for recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse staff within their divisions.

    Of course, the progress of some MPPWSA institutions may eclipse the current status of others. Indeed, each year we welcome newcomers to the list of MPPWSA institutions — hats off to all those who have been named for the first time in 2024! We also acknowledge that some former MPPWSA institutions are not in this year’s lineup, which has been true every year of the project. Generally, such changes in the lineup can be attributed to (1) significant improvements and sustained focused efforts on the part of prior MPPWSAs (2) entry of newcomers to the annual competition who outpace others on key metrics and (3) changes/declines in supports and services of past recipients. Interestingly, our research team has also observed that movement on- and off-the-list is also correlated with crisis management, government policies toward DEI, and leadership turnover, especially in vital student services areas. For example, several former MPPWSA schools experienced a significant setback in their standing this year, primarily due to the introduction and enforcement of anti-DEI legislation in their state or local area. Campus sources have shared that such legislation critically impacted their ability to “deliver on the promise of a diverse and inclusive workplace” by reducing, if not outright eliminating, funding and support for crucial initiatives, Key programs vary by institution but include without limits: diversity incentive grants, identity-based employee resources groups (ERGs), anti-racism workshops, book clubs, and so much more. Lack of financial and legislative support for these programs not only undermines the school’s efforts to maintain and enhance humanizing student affairs workplaces, but also significantly detracts from their ability to create inclusive environments where all staff can thrive regardless of department or functional area. Consequently, these conditions can decrease one’s competitiveness for the award, highlighting the profound impact state policies can have on higher education institutions and their capacity to live up to their core mission.

    Being recognized as a MPPWSA is a prestigious accolade that reflects an institution’s commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment within student affairs at a specific point in time. This evaluation is based on a comprehensive analysis of various performance indicators, with a particular focus on identifying year-to-year changes that might influence an institution’s standing. It’s important to note that the design of this study is inherently sensitive to fluctuations, including shifts, declines, or drop-offs in effective institutional practices and policies. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, several MPPWSA-recognized institutions implemented innovative practices such as flexible work hours, telework options, and fuel assistance to better support their remote workforce. However, as some institutions pivot back to ‘in-person only’ models, these commendable practices have been discontinued. This transition presents an opportunity for leaders to creatively design new or revise existing programs and services. Such initiatives can continue the momentum gained during COVID, while also more effectively promoting diversity and inclusion amid new norms. The dynamic nature of the MPPWSA project encourages continuous improvement, incremental adaptation, and future-focused growth mindedness to ensure that institutions remain on the cutting-edge. Thus, we encourage readers of this special report and senior-most leaders of MPPWSA institutions to consider these recommendations when fashioning productive work environments, promoting inclusive excellence, and managing institutional change caused by unanticipated crises, policy changes, and leadership transitions brought about through promotion, separation, retirement, or other headwinds. Remember this: Doing the same thing well consistently over time or doing ‘good work’ increasingly better over time has greater impact than doing something great once!


    In addition to excelling in their assigned role or position, staff at many MPPWSA institutions were incentivized to work on projects outside of their normal division and function. For an example of how allowing work across silos contributes to a promising place to work, take a look at this year’s featured institutions in terms of dining services, counseling services, academic advising, and financial aid, to name a few. One reason for the success of these campus services is a result of the cross pollination that occurred when they were encouraged to share ideas across units on how to best serve diverse faculty, staff, and students. Mixing of creative ideas, effective strategies, and deeper understandings of campus needs led to innovations like campus-sponsored food pantries, vegan/vegetarian diet options, university-sanctioned clothing closets, emergency aid grants, year-round housing and dining services, veteran support services, and reemployment assistance for staff. Readers of this year’s report might consider these examples when developing strategic plans or staffing practices of their own.


    Enabling staff to work across invisible “functional walls” that separate teams and divisions also helped many of this year’s MPPWSA institutions to provide workplace environments where faculty and staff feel like they belong, they matter, and they make an important contribution. It is important to note that the mere provision of professional supports and services is unlikely to produce robust outcomes like workplace belonging—it is when staff support and services are intentionally designed to address the basic and specific needs of personnel and remove structural inequities, which affirming their value and contributions, that leads to higher belonging, greater productivity, and success. For instance, several of this year’s MPPWSA institutions offer various forms of professional leave (e.g., caregiving, educational) to staff to accommodate their academic aspirations and family needs. Other institutions offer stress reduction programs (e.g., virtual yoga), flexible workhours (even pre- or post-pandemic), merit pay or bonuses, and childcare services to demonstrate an institutional commitment to work-life balance, family-friendliness, and holistic development. They also offer a suite of professional awards and rewards, recognizing the employee of the month, those who ‘go beyond the call of duty,’ those who celebrate key milestones (e.g., 5-, 10-, 15-years of employment), as well as those who retire or leave the institution for a promotion or new opportunity.


    Institution# Full Time Staff# Part Time Staff50% Female30% Ethnic Minority5% LGBT Staff5% Staff with DisabilitiesAverage Salary SeniorAverage Salary Mid-LevelAverage Salary Entry-Level
    Baker College302YESNON/AN/A$102,728.30$74,382.08$46,761.48
    Bridgewater State University9590YESYESYESYES$115,000$85,000$65,000
    California State University-Fresno30020YESYESYESYES$127,000$85,000$52,000
    California State University-Long Beach5851669YESYESN/AN/A$121,151$76,434$53,261
    Elon University970YESYESN/AN/A$103,515$60,757$48,191
    Gonzaga University1012YESNOYESYES$91,700$61,300$48,300
    Grand Valley State University801YESNON/AN/A$96,651$72,194$48,250
    Kent State University29635YESNON/AN/A$109,105.71$71,773.57$41,211.72
    Knox College282YESNOYESYES$85,000$60,000$40,000
    Lehigh University822YESNON/AN/A$107,124$65,569$52,268
    Louisiana State University20945YESYESYESYES$120,000$67,500$45,000
    New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology6212YESYESYESNO$100,488.12$60,026.67$41,154.21
    Oregon Coast Community College140NONON/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
    Rhode Island School of Design455NONONONO$104,161.67$71,972.47$51,189.78
    Rhodes College391YESYESN/AN/A$83,850.32$60,068.16$41,762.55
    Rowan University10240YESYESYESN/A$105,000$78,000$55,000
    Rutgers University-New Brunswick1439114YESYESYESN/A$184,471.16$98,616.28$73,650.13
    The University of Alabama at Birmingham12917YESYESN/AN/A$111,163$59,737$40,487
    University of California-Berkeley1358455YESYESYESYES$204,413$117,519$57,897
    University of North Carolina-Pembroke601NOYESN/AYES$90,405$54,786$42,962
    University of South Carolina-Columbia4543YESYESN/AYES$168,920$90,536.21$53,259.19
    Virginia Commonwealth University257694YESYESN/AN/A$123,132.69$71,922.94$51,000.94
    Winston-Salem State University8535YESYESYESYES$95,000$70,000$45,000


    InstitutionCargiving Leave For AllChildcare ServicesContinuing EdEd LeaveElder Care ServicesFlexible Work ScheduleMentoringStress Reduction Program
    Bridgewater State UniversityYESNOYESYESNOYESNOYES
    California State University-FresnoYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
    California State University-Long BeachYESYESYESYESYESYESNOYES
    Grand Valley State UniversityYESYESYESNOYESYESYESYES
    Louisiana State UniversityYESYESYESYESYESYESNONO
    New Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyYESYESYESNONOYESYESNO
    Oregon Coast Community CollegeYESNOYESYESNOYESYESNO
    Rhode Island School of DesignYESNOYESNONOYESYESNO
    Rutgers University-New BrunswickYESNOYESNONOYESNOYES
    The University of Alabama at BirminghamYESYESYESNOYESYESYESYES
    University of California-BerkeleyYESYESNONOYESYESNOYES
    University of North Carolina-PembrokeYESNOYESNONONONOYES
    University of South Carolina-ColumbiaYESNOYESYESNOYESNONO
    Virginia Commonwealth UniversityYESYESYESYESYESYESNOYES
    Winston-Salem State UniversityYESYESYESYESNOYESYESYES


    In this year’s report, we offer a geographical depiction of the spread of MPPWSA institutions. As shown in the author-generated map below, this year’s featured institutions cover:

    • 18 different states
    • Both East Coast and West Coast, along with Midwest
    • Both public and private colleges and universities
    • Disciplinary specific (e.g., design, mining) and more general, comprehensive curriculum

    US map


    Baker College

    Baker College

    Baker College serves thousands of students across the state of Michigan, as well as across the U.S., through its global campus. The institution offers diverse academic depth and breadth in undergraduate and graduate programs across eight academic colleges, ranging from health sciences and engineering to business and technology. Baker College strives to cultivate and encourage positive action, critical thought, and the knowledge students need to improve their lives, careers, and the world around them. Under the leadership of Dr. Jamie Zamjahn, vice president of student success & engagement, the college launched #StudentFirst philosophy, a holistic and proactive support Baker College students receive when they enroll. “#StudentFirst extends through your entire Baker College journey,” says Zamjahn. “Whether this is your first or last term, we are here to cheer you on. Our career services team is here to provide you guidance during your time as a student, as well as after graduation.”
    Bridgewater State University

    Bridgewater State University

    Bridgewater State University is a public university in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, with campuses in Attleboro, Cape Cod, and New Bedford. The university’s six academic colleges offer 36 undergraduate majors and over 60 graduate-degree and certificate programs. The Honors Program at Bridgewater State University is a welcoming community of nearly 500 students focused on academic success, personal goals, social justice, service, and leadership. The program associates students to a diverse community of engaged citizen-scholars on campus and to a network of Honors students across Massachusetts and the country. Honors can assist students to develop essential skills. These skills include teamwork, oral and written communication skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving, as well as self-motivation and time-management. Dr. Joseph Oravecz recently retired from his position as vice president of the division for student life. During his tenure at the university, he oversaw several initiatives, including the Center for Student Engagement and the Wellness Center.
    California State University, Fresno

    California State University, Fresno

    California State University, Fresno, serves a 24,000-student body that is nearly 60% Hispanic in the Central Valley region of California. Fresno State’s campus facilitates more than 100 academic majors and over 300 student organizations, but its division of student affairs and enrollment management has been an invaluable resource to inspire student success.

    Fresno State offers dozens of services and programs including its Academic Success Coaching Program for students needing academic or personal assistance and its College Assistance Migrant Program for incoming freshmen of migrant or seasonal farm worker families. Other examples include the university’s Central Valley California Student Opportunity and Access Program that provides tutoring and advising to help increase higher education access to low-income, first-generation, or underserved high schoolers; its Cross Cultural and Gender Center fosters meaningful dialogue and activism that works to eliminate racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression; and its Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities exists to develop, disseminate, interpret, and enforce campus regulations and protectstudent rights.

    Dr. Kent L. Willis, Fresno State’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management since 2023, oversees employees in the division. Willis then described the division as “exhibiting a commitment to student success in an institution that has over time demonstrated the ability to raise the social mobility of its students.” He said “the most attractive thing has been the institution, as well as the vision of the leaders on campus that really compelled us [his family] to Fresno.”

    California State University, Long Beach

    California State University, Long Beach

    The mission of the Office of Student Affairs at California State University is to “shape an inclusive and affirming experience for students to grow, thrive, and succeed.” Led by Dr. Beth Lesen, who appointed the inaugural Student Affairs Equity & Diversity Task Force in response to the continued acts of hate, violence, racism, and systemic oppression across the nation toward the Black community. The Office of Student Affairs has actively engaged in dismantling structures that have historically marginalized and targeted many groups including, but not limited to, those identifying as Black/Pan-African, Asian, Pacific Islander, LatinX, Native American/American Indian, Jewish, Muslim, LGBTQIA+, individuals with disabilities, undocumented, and intersecting identities.
    Elon University

    Elon University

    A private university in North Carolina founded in 1889, Elon University has about 7,100 students and offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. For the fourth year in a row, Elon has been named one of the most promising places to work in student affairs. “To be lifted up among the 22 institutions named as Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs is certainly an honor,” says Jon Dooley, vice president for student life and associate professor of education. “The fact that Elon is one of only two institutions that have been named to this list every year for the past four years speaks to the consistency of the efforts of student life colleagues to embrace inclusive excellence in our workplace culture and in our work with students.”

    The recognition is the result of strategies focused on two of the seven themes of the current Student Life Five Year Plan, “Inclusive Excellence,” and “Divisional Excellence,” as well as efforts named in the “Thrive” theme of the university’s Boldly Elon 10-Year Strategic Plan. Through the intentional enhancement of policies, practices, and professional development, the Division of Student Life and the university have strengthened and advanced workplace culture and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Consistently evaluating campus climate outcomes and tailoring strategic endeavors accordingly have been pivotal in cultivating a healthier, more inclusive environment where all students and employees can thrive. “I am incredibly proud of the work that each of our student life staff has been doing to fulfill our vision and goals, and I know this recognition will only fuel our future efforts as we continue to improve and implement the plans laid out in Boldly Elon and our Student Life Five Year Plan,” Dooley said.

    Gonzaga University

    Gonzaga University

    “We are very excited and proud to be named on this list,” says Dr. Kent Porterfield, Gonzaga’s vice provost for student affairs, noting that the recognition comes after the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing efforts to develop and implement strategies for recruiting and sustaining a diverse student affairs staff.

    “Nearly four years ago, we established a professional development committee in student affairs charged with developing an education and training series emphasizing knowledge and skills building through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Porterfield said.

    That committee has offered monthly professional development programs and a full-day colloquium annually for all student affairs staff. Student affairs staff also complete the Intercultural Development Inventory and Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory training, as well asDiversityEdu.

    Porterfield said that newer initiatives such as flexible work guidelines for staff, supervisor training, and DEI-focused caucuses also contribute to improving the student affairs work culture. Student affairs also coordinates social gatherings, awards and recognitions, and “Ask Me Anything” sessions led by Porterfield twice each month to keep the communication flowing. Many of these initiatives evolved post-pandemic when higher education, and student affairs in particular, was impacted by higher-than-normal numbers of resignations and retirements. Among the reasons cited were increased responsibilities, stagnant pay, stress, and a lack of recognition for the important work student affairs staff provide.

    Gonzaga was not immune to these challenges, says Porterfield. So, in spring 2022, the students affairs department conducted its own workplace climate survey. The department learned its staff desired greater collaboration, DEI-focused hiring practices, increased professional development, and more social interactions with coworkers. Porterfield and other leaders in student affairs took the feedback to heart. “We hope the changes we have made, and continue to make, will continue to improve the work experience for student affairs staff at Gonzaga. We recognize there is more work to do, but we are truly honored to be considered one of the most promising places to work in student affairs in the country.”

    Grand Valley State University

    Grand Valley State University

    The mission of the Office of Student Affairs at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is “to elevate, challenge, and empower all learners to develop their passions and purpose in a healthy, inclusive, and equitable environment.” The Division of Student Affairs positively impacts the university through engaging experiential learning and exceptional student support. Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones currently serves as the vice president for student affairs. Hall-Jones joined GVSU in February 2022, as the inaugural vice president of student affairs. “My visit to campus showed me that Grand Valley has an incredible dedication to students and to colleagues,” says Hall-Jones. “I was impressed by the questions asked of me at the community interview. They were around strategy and student well-being. Everyone asked about how we are going to support students. That told me a great deal about what motivates the people at GVSU. I saw great camaraderie with the team here. I see tremendous opportunity to both be mentored and to use my skill set to help students and the Division of Student Affairs to thrive.”
    Kent State University

    Kent State University

    The Division of Student Affairs at Kent State University offers a variety of student organizations and leadership opportunities. It creates an inclusive, co-curricular environment that engages students in an optimal learning experience. Students are the priority. Kent State’s Division of Student Affairs works hard to provide students with the skills necessary to make a positive impact on the world. This would be impossible without their constant drive to instill the fundamental workplace principles that they are being recognized for.
    Knox College

    Knox College

    With students at the heart of all that is done at Knox College, the Division of Student Development was created to support student success both inside and outside of the classroom. Informed by decades of theory, best practices, and educational models that affirm and support its commitment to the holistic development of all students, student affairs personnel work to help students develop an honest appreciation of themselves, make choices aligned with their values, sustain meaningful interpersonal connections, and engage deeply with those different from themselves — all in support of becoming engaged members of an equitable and inclusive society. Dr. MarQuita Barker has served as the vice president for student development at Knox College since January 2022.
    Lehigh University

    Lehigh University

    The Division of Student Affairs at Lehigh University, led by Dr. Ricardo D. Hall, is guided by the following foundational principles:

    Commitment to student learning and development. We engage students in the discovery of knowledge, exploration of skills, connection with others, and application of behaviors that cultivate self-efficacy and lifelong learning. Commitment to community. We embrace a prominent role in the shared responsibility to promote an inclusive community characterized by a genuine sense of belonging and demonstrated respect for self and others.

    Commitment to purposeful action. We empower students to integrate learning and development by leading with integrity and contributing to the community as active, engaged citizens. Commitment to staff professional growth and development. We foster a professional culture that values and promotes staff member learning and engagement, as well as the sharing of knowledge and expertise, both on and off campus.

    Louisiana State University

    Louisiana State University

    Dr. Brandon Common leads the Division of Student Affairs at Louisiana State University. Common oversees more than a dozen departments, helping to curate the student experience for LSU students. “There are so many things to love about higher education. Events like orientation and welcome week introduce new students to our culture while teaching them our unique customs, language, and values,” he says. “Campus programs, academic and non-academic, help to build community and foster a sense of belonging for students. The exchange of ideas and perspectives, both inside and outside of the classroom, allows students to grow intellectually. Higher education positively transforms the lives of students and positively impacts our society.”
    New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

    New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

    Founded in 1889 as New Mexico School of Mines, the institution located in the historic Rio Grande Valley, changed its name in 1951 to New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. The institution serves the state and beyond through education, research, and service focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Involved faculty educate a diverse student body in rigorous and collaborative programs, preparing scientists and engineers for the future. Its innovative and interdisciplinary research expands the reach of humanity’s knowledge and capabilities. Researchers, faculty, and students work together to solve real world problems.
    Oregon Coast Community College

    Oregon Coast Community College

    Dr. Andres Oroz is vice president for academic and student affairs at Oregon Coast Community College, where students can complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, earn an associate degree, take courses to obtain employment, prepare to start a small business, earn a GED, learn English as a second language, or take courses for personal enrichment. Oregon Coast students may attend full- and part-time and explore career ideas, retrain or update job skills, pursue a personal interest, or broaden their horizons. The community college also offers credit and non-credit courses at its centers at various other locations throughout the county and online.
    Rhode Island School of Design

    Rhode Island School of Design

    Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a college and museum founded in 1877 in Providence, Rhode Island. About 2,620 students engage in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs supported by a committed faculty and worldwide network of more than 31,000 alumni. Among the many initiatives at RISD, one that stands out is the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion. The center provides myriad resources for students, faculty, and staff in an effort to enhance the experiences of the RISD community and help ensure that all members of the community feel included and fully supported at RISD.
    Rhodes College

    Rhodes College

    “We are proud to be acknowledged as one of the most promising places to work in student affairs,” says Nicole J. Johnson, vice president for student life at Rhodes College. “This recognition reflects our dedication to fostering an inclusive, supportive environment for our student life professionals, and they can make a meaningful impact on students’ educational journey.”

    The Division of Student Life provides resources, skills, and experiences to foster the development of the student in preparation for a life of learning, effective leadership, and civic engagement. Rhodes provides endless opportunities for students to contribute, create, and lead. Whether serving on the Honor Council, organizing a community service initiative, participating in athletics or the fine arts, or bringing new ideas and energy to a student club or organization, Rhodes students define and enhance their experiences while enrolled at the institution.

    Rowan University

    Rowan University

    At Rowan University in the southern part of New Jersey, student affairs encompasses the three divisions of student success, student life, and strategic enrollment management. The offices support students through vital services and initiatives to help them succeed. In addition, the divisions offer a variety of lifestyle activities, and a wellness community to help students thrive throughout their college experience. Small class sizes, experiential learning, leadership opportunities, and career placement network put the student at the center of Rowan’s world.
    Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    The Division of Student Affairs at Rutgers University-New Brunswick is a diverse institutional powerhouse, with more than 20 departments and areas, over 1,000 staff members, and more than 2,300 student-staff members. The university is committed to enriching the quality of life and academic success of its students and the personal and professional development of its staff. The division is led by Dr. Salvador Mena, senior vice chancellor of student affairs at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “What drives me to keep going every day is the fact that I really believe we are able to make a difference in the lives of students who will, in turn, make the world a better place for us all,” says Mena.
    The University of Alabama at Birmingham

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham

    “In our division we always strive for excellence, whether that is removing a barrier to success for a student, increasing access to services, or to collaborate with partners across campus to be innovative and hold one another accountable, student affairs is a place where all Blazers can thrive,” comments Dr. John R. Jones, III, vice president of student affairs at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), on being named to the Most Promising Places to Work in 2023. UAB returned to the list for a consecutive year. The division supports hundreds of student organizations and activities for every possible interest. Through their engagement with students, student affairs personnel can watch as students progress academically, discover their values, develop their identity, and realize their full potential. This is achieved through advising students and student organizations, creating innovative leadership opportunities, and promoting involvement in the campus community. Student involvement and leadership values and encourages all forms of leadership to cultivate an inclusive, socially responsible, and vibrant campus community.
    University of California-Berkeley

    University of California-Berkeley

    The Division of Student Affairs at Berkeley works to make a big public institution feel smaller. “We do this primarily by supporting your successful navigation of our culture and campus,” Dr. Stephen C. Sutton, vice chancellor of the division of student affairs tells his students. “We want you to experience ‘every door is the right door.’ We are translators of the student experience, collaborators, and problem solvers, and we hold the safety net for those students’ experiencing crisis.”

    This work, he says, begins with the early outreach we do to help students learn about and apply to Berkeley. “We ensure that basic needs are met through housing and meals, are packaged for financial aid, and we provide transcripts and academic records. We support your transition, help you navigate campus, and find supportive and engaging communities, for example, in residence halls and campus clubs and organizations.”

    The end goal is to ensure that graduates feel“a connection to the engagement opportunities” they have had during their time atthe university.

    University of North Carolina-Pembroke

    University of North Carolina-Pembroke

    Diversity at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke is rooted in the institution’s historical mission of service to the Lumbee and other American Indian nations, which dates to the institution’s establishment in 1887. Today, the UNC Pembroke community reflects diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. The Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID) at UNC Pembroke values the opportunity to celebrate and showcase the institution’s rich diversity as reflected in community members’ race, age, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ability, faith, religion, national origin, citizenship, social and economic class, ideology, and other identities. OSID is committed to advancing equity and inclusion for all community members through intercultural engagement, social justice initiatives, education, and student-centered programming. OSID is building an inclusive culture, based in alliances across differences, that addresses and removes barriers to success, fosters freedom from prejudice and promotes a community of empathy and mutual respect for the identities of all members. OSID recognizes creating a culture of inclusivity is an ongoing collaborative process that requires a community member to be actively engaged, aware of oneself and other community members, address personal biases, and lean into the discomfort that often accompanies growth.
    University of South Carolina

    University of South Carolina

    “We are immensely proud of this recognition of our efforts to make USC’s Division of Student Affairs and Academic Support a place where people feel they’re valued and able to do meaningful work for students, have fun and make progress toward their career goals,” says J. Rex Tolliver, vice president for student affairs and academic support at University of South Carolina (USC), the only school in South Carolina to make the list.

    Student affairs and academic support at the university, connects students with experiences and resources that will help them achieve a lifetime of meaningful leadership, service, employment, and continued learning.

    Virginia Commonwealth University

    Virginia Commonwealth University

    Led by Dr. Aaron J. Hart, the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University offers many support services for students, but its Office for Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) is worth noting. OMSA offers diversity, inclusion and social justice dialogues, presentations, and workshops, cultural heritage month events, mentorship and leadership engagement opportunities, identity-based discussion groups, and diversity and inclusion living-learning floors. In addition to being a resource for the entire Virginia Commonwealth University community, OMSA supports and celebrates specific constituency groups, including students who identify as African American/Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Indigenous/Native American, Hispanic/Latinx, and LGBTQIA+.
    Winston-Salem State University

    Winston-Salem State University

    A historically Black public university, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has over 40 academic majors and 10 graduate degrees. “As WSSU enters a bold new era, our commitment to student affairs is engrained in the work that we do on a daily basis and codified in our recent strategic plan, ‘Unleash the Genius,’” says Dr. Mel Johnson-Norwood, associate provost and vice chancellor for student affairs at WSSU. “As we reflect upon our experiences over the past three years, we are looking outside of tradition and audaciously moving into spaces that may be uncomfortable but necessary for our future growth and development.”