2015 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

Promising Places to work logos

The Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs national survey was first commissioned by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2011. The national survey is administered by the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) at The Ohio State University, which is directed by professor Terrell Strayhorn. Among other things, Strayhorn served as ACPA director of research and scholarship from 2009 to 2012.

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

Other Years

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InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControlClassificationEnrollment
California State University Channel IslandsDr. Wm. Gregory SawyerCamarillo, CA4-yearpublicMaster’s3,862
California State University, FresnoDr. Frank LamasFresno, CA4-yearpublicMaster’s21,500
Florida State UniversityDr. Mary B. CoburnTallahassee, FL4-yearpublicResearch39,785
Indiana University SoutheastJason L. MeriwetherNew Albany, IN4-yearpublicMaster’s6,840
McKendree UniversityDr. Joni J. BastianLebanon, IL4-yearprivateMaster’s3,284
The Ohio State UniversityDr. Javaune Adams-GastonColumbus, OH4-yearpublicResearch55,014
Saint Louis UniversityDr. Kent PorterfieldSt. Louis, MO4-yearprivateResearch16,317
Shepherd UniversityDr. Thomas C. SegarShepherdstown, WV4-yearpublicMaster’s4,256
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleDr. Narbeth R. EmmanuelEdwardsville, IL4-yearpublicMaster’s13,940
The Stony Brook UniversityDr. Peter M. BaigentStony Brook, NY4-yearpublicResearch24,681
Sweet Briar CollegeCheryl SteeleSweet Briar, VA4-yearprivateBachelor’s756
The University of AlabamaDr. Steven HoodTuscaloosa, AL4-yearpublicResearch28,699
The University of Maine at MachiasDr. Melvin D. Adams IIIMachias, ME4-yearpublicBachelor’s964
The University of Maryland, Baltimore CountyDr. Nancy YoungBaltimore, MD4-yearpublicResearch12,870
The University of VermontDr. Annie StevensBurlington, VT4-yearpublicResearch13,391
University of West GeorgiaDr. Scot A. LingrellCarrollton, GA4-yearpublicMaster’s11,500
Youngstown State UniversityJack FaheyYoungstown, OH4-yearpublicMaster’s14,644


The Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) is an interdisciplinary research and policy center that promotes the important role postsecondary education plays in global society, especially the vital roles and responsibilities of public higher education. CHEE is committed to improving student success by conducting distinctive research, policy analysis and outreach that will help make higher education more accessible, affordable, engaged and all-around excellent.

CHEE’s mission is to become the country’s preeminent higher education research and policy center, solving issues of national significance. In terms of vision, CHEE exists to advance the higher education enterprise through the creation and dissemination of distinctive research that informs policy, strengthens communities and enables student success. For more, go to: http://chee.osu.edu.


Dr. Terrell Lamont Strayhorn (principal investigator) is a professor of higher education at The Ohio State University, where he also serves as director of CHEE. Author of eight books, more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, more than 150 papers at international and national conferences and more than 200 keynotes, Strayhorn was named one of the top scholars in his field by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2011.

Dr. Derrick L. Tillman-Kelly (project coordinator) is special assistant to the director of CHEE and a doctoral candidated in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) graduate program at The Ohio State University. Author of several journal articles and book chapters, his research interests center on administrative issues, social identity and sexuality, and presidential derailment.

In addition to the principal investigator and project coordinator, the project benefited from the contributions of other CHEE staff who helped contact administrators, craft institutional profiles and elicit quotations. These include (in alphabetical order): Trevion Henderson, Royel Johnson, Dr. Joey Kitchen, Tiger Litam, Katy Nash, Amber Samimi, Sondra Shook and Christopher Travers.


Institution# Full Time Staff50% Female30% Ethnic Minority5% LGBT Staff5% Staff with DisabilitiesAverage Salary SeniorAverage Salary Mid-LevelAverage Salary Entry-Level
California State University Channel Islands67YESYESN/RN/R$117,000$77,000$45,000
California State University, Fresno250N/RNON/RN/R$130,000$80,000$40,000
Florida State University575YESYESN/RN/R$111,253$70,843$32,938
Indiana University Southeast46NONON/RNO$61,854$48,000$33,000
McKendree University27YESNOYESNO$50,000$37,000$30,000
The Ohio State University1,101NOYESN/RN/R$112,371$65,254$43,000
Saint Louis University157YESNON/RN/R$85,000$60,000$35,000
Shepherd University67YESYESNOYES$70,000$50,000$30,000
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville250YESYESNONO$100,000$55,000$35,000
The Stony Brook University318N/RNON/RN/R$113,000$77,000$40,000
Sweet Briar College13YESNON/RN/R$55,380$41,438$29,332
The University of Alabama212YESNON/RN/R$100,000$60,000$35,000
The University of Maine at Machias13YESNOYESN/R$70,000$37,500$25,500
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County206N/RNON/RN/R$107,127$66,706$47,369
The University of Vermont182YESYESYESYES$95,000$55,000$35,000
University of West Georgia174YESYESN/RNO$90,000$45,000$33,000
Youngstown State University65YESNON/RN/R$100,000$70,000$38,000


InstitutionCargiving Leave For AllChildcare ServicesContinuing EdEd LeaveElder Care ServicesFlexible Work ScheduleMentoringStress Reduction Program
California State University Channel IslandsYESNOYESYESNOYESNONO
California State University, FresnoYESYESYESYESNOYESYESYES
Indiana University SoutheastYESYESYESNONOYESYESYES
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
The University of Maine at MachiasYESYESYESYESNOYESNOYES
The University of Maryland, Baltimore CountyYESNOYESNONOYESNOYES


California State University, Fresno

California State University, Fresno

Founded in 1911, Fresno State is committed to embracing the diversity inherent in its university community to enable student success, produce transformative scholarly research and creative works, and develop institutional, community and intellectual leaders. Vice President Frank Lamas leads the Division of Student Affairs, comprised of 250 full-time staff members across various departments including admissions and records, career services, the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute, educational talent search, and student involvement, to name a few. In learning of Fresno State’s selection, Lamas pointed to the dedicated staff within the division. He shared, "It is a real honor for us to be selected as one the most promising places to work in Student Affairs across the country. We have great colleagues within the division committed to student success and dedicated to serve the needs of our students, division, university and community."
Indiana University Southeast

Indiana University Southeast

Founded in 1941, Indiana University Southeast is the regional campus of Indiana University and serves southern Indiana and the Greater Louisville metropolitan area. The university seeks to foster a nurturing environment, holistic learning, integrity and connectedness amongst its university community. Vice Chancellor Jason Meriwether leads the Division of Enrollment Management & Student Affairs, comprised of 46 full-time and 21 part-time staff members across various departments including admissions, the Adult Student Center, the Center for Mentoring, orientation, and career services, to name a few. When informed of their selection, Meriwether shared, "This recognition is a tribute to the work of a phenomenal IU Southeast Student Affairs team that embraces diversity in spirit and practice as the intersection of our unique individual identities and our collective vision of student learning and engagement. Diversity is where the magic happens — the enrichment of the campus experience through creative encounters with varied ideas, histories, journeys and dreams."
The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University

Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University is Ohio’s flagship and land-grant university with campuses across the state. Ohio State’s Columbus campus, home to more than 58,000 students, is one of America’s largest and most comprehensive. Seeking to solve problems of worldwide significance, Ohio State is guided by four core goals: teaching and learning; research and innovation; outreach and engagement; and resource stewardship. Vice President Javaune Adams-Gaston, affectionately known as "Dr. J," leads the Office of Student Life, comprised of 1,101 full-time staff and 5,549 part-time staff members across a host of departments including Buckeye Careers, the Center for the Study of Student Life, housing and residence life, the Ohio Union, the Student Advocacy Center, and the Younkin Success Center, to name a few. When informed about Ohio State’s inclusion on this year’s list, Adams-Gaston shared, "In the Office of Student Life at The Ohio State University, our vision is to create an extraordinary experience for every student at our institution … and we know this starts with providing an exceptional and supportive environment for our extraordinary staff . I could not be more proud that we have been included among such distinguished company on the list of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs."
Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is a Catholic Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Vice President Porterfield leads the Division of Student Development, comprised of 157 full-time and 35 part-time staff members across a host of departments, including Billiken Athletics, campus ministry, the Center for Service and Community Engagement, the Cross Cultural Center, and the Student Success Center, to name a few. Porterfield was delighted to learn that Saint Louis University is among this year’s awardees. He shared, "Collectively, we are working hard to be a high achieving, diverse, and inclusive student affairs division. We strive to be exemplars in student affairs practice. We are proud that our commitment to excellence and our efforts to make Saint Louis University a great place to work in student affairs is being recognized."
Youngstown State University

Youngstown State University

Founded in 1908, Youngstown State University is an urban research university that emphasizes a creative, integrated approach to education, scholarship and service. Vice President Jack Fahey leads the Division of Student Affairs, comprised of 65 fulltime and seven part-time staff members across various departments, including the Center for Student Progress, career services, counseling and consultation services, orientation services, and veteran affairs, to name a few. A second-time member of the Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs cohort, Youngstown State has used its recognition to continually refine its services. Fahey shared, "Receiving the PPWSA designation in 2014 propelled us to elevate our service to our students, our community, and each other. This attention has stimulated increased intentionality and urgency in our practice: Are we living up to this recognition? Do our practices perpetuate the high standard with which we have been equated? It is an honor to be so publicly acknowledged; one we want to continue to earn from year to year. … At Youngstown State we’re energized to be selected again!"


Tracy Cameron, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Intercultural Education
Director Harambee House
Advisor to Student of African Descent
Wellesley College
Stan Carpenter, Ph.D.
College of Education
Texas State University
Kristen A. Renn, Ph.D.
Professor of Higher, Adult, & Lifelong Education
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies/Director for Student Success Initiatives
Michigan State University
Joan B. Hirt, Ph.D.
Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School of Education
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Sue Saunders, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator, Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration
Extension Professor, Department of Educational Leadership Neag School of Education
University of Connecticut