2016 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

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This study 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

2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2015 2014 
InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControlClassificationEnrollment
Arkansas State University-BeebeDr. Deborah GarrettBeebe, AR2-yearpublicAssociate4,140
Bridgewater State UniversityJason B. PinaBridgewater, MA4-yearpublicMaster’s11,187
Bryant UniversityDr. John R. SaddlemireBridgewater, MA4-yearprivateSpecial Focus3,462
California State U. Channel IslandsDr. Wm. Gregory SawyerCamarillo, CA4-yearpublicMaster’s5,879
Centre CollegeRandy HaysDanville, KY4-yearprivateBachelor’s1,387
Hamline UniversityDr. Alan SickbertSt. Paul, MN4-yearprivateMaster’s4,469
Hofstra UniversityW. Houston DoughartyHempstead, NY4-yearprivateDoctoral10,953
Indiana U.-Purdue U. IndianapolisDr. Zebulun R. DavenportIndianapolis, IN4-yearpublicDoctoral30,690
Indiana University SoutheastJason L. MeriwetherNew Albany, IN4-yearpublicMaster’s6,442
The Ohio State UniversityDr. Javaune Adams-GastonColumbus, OH4-yearpublicDoctoral58,322
Saint Louis UniversityDr. Kent PorterfieldSaint Louis, MO4-yearprivateDoctoral17,052
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleDr. Jeffrey N. WapleEdwardsville, IL4-yearpublicMaster’s13,972
Texas A&M University-Corpus ChristiDr. Don D. AlbrechtCorpus Christi, TX4-yearpublicDoctoral 11,256
Texas State UniversityDr. Joanne SmithSan Marcos, TX4-yearpublicDoctoral36,729
The University of VermontAnnie StevensBurlington, VT4-yearpublicDoctoral12,856
University of DenverDr. Patricia S. HeltonDenver, CO4-yearprivateDoctoral11,809
University of Maine at MachiasMelvin D. Adams IIIMachias, ME4-yearpublicBachelor’s810
University of West GeorgiaDr. Scot A. LingrellCarrollton, GA4-yearpublicDoctoral12,206
Virginia TechDr. Patricia A. PerilloBlacksburg, VA4-yearpublicDoctoral31,224


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 the Center for Higher Education Enterprise(CHEE). Author of 10 books, more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, more than 150 papers at international and national conferences and more than 200 keynotes, Strayhorn is a prolific scholar, internationally known student success expert, highly sought public speaker and was named on of the top scholars in his field by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2011.

Dr. Derrick L. Tillman-Kelly is special assistant to the director of CHEE and University Innovation Alliance (UIA) Fellow at The Ohio State University. Author of several journal articles and book chapters, his research interests consider three primary aspects of higher education: leadership and organizational socialization of administrators; minority-serving institutions; and the impact of identity intersections on academic and social experiences of college students with specific consideration of race, gender, sexuality and spirituality as social identities.

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): Kristin Gebhart, Trevion Henderson, Alesia Howard and Christopher Travers.


New to the 2016 edition of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs, we highlight specific actions, initiatives, practices and programs identified by student affairs practitioners as important to their recruitment to and/or retention on this year’s list of promising places to work. After notification of their selection as a promising place to work, each senior student affairs officer (SSAO) was invited to provide contact information for three to five student affairs practitioners at their institution who could share insight into institutional and divisional practices that they believe make working at their respective institution a promising place for student affairs professionals. Based on our conversations with student affairs practitioners with as few as three months to as many as 25 years of professional experience, we found that student affairs professionals generally enjoyed working in student affairs units where five practices were experienced: demonstrated commitment to institutional mission and strategic plan; senior student affairs leaders who were available and involved; formal and informal recognition of good work; institutional and senior leadership support of work/life balance; and intentional investment in the development of student affairs staff.


Institution# Full Time Staff# Part Time Staff50% Female30% Ethnic Minority5% LGBT Staff5% Staff with DisabilitiesAverage Salary SeniorAverage Salary Mid-LevelAverage Salary Entry-Level
Arkansas State University-Beebe5165YESNONONO$65,000N/R$40,000
Bridgewater State University200150N/RN/RN/RN/R$125,000$65,000$40,000
Bryant University6420NONON/RN/R$95,000$65,000$40,000
California State U. Channel Islands932YESYESN/RN/R$126,165$74,326$43,457
Centre College280YESNOYESNO$65,000$50,000$40,000
Hamline University3611YESNONONO$60,000$45,000$35,000
Hofstra University12916YESNOYESYES$105,000$60,000$48,000
Indiana U.-Purdue U. Indianapolis912YESNOYESNO$77,929$51,195$38,494
Indiana University Southeast5265NONON/RNO$69,869$46,359$32,316
The Ohio State University9915357NOYESN/RN/R$103,948$54,023$40,621
Saint Louis University18350YESYESN/RN/R$152,000$81,000$40,000
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville400200N/RN/RN/RN/R$90,000$65,000$35,000
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi767YESNON/RNO$94,498$51,964$35,000
Texas State University41355N/RYESN/RN/R$118,000$65,000$40,000
The University of Vermont1876YESNOYESYES$200,000$70,000$35,000
University of Denver10040NON/RN/RN/R$100,000$70,000$45,000
University of Maine at Machias151YES7YESN/R$80,004$42,000$29,000
University of West Georgia18240YESYESN/RYES$90,000$50,000$33,000
Virginia Tech7872472YESNON/RN/R$107,628$64,356$38,332


InstitutionCargiving Leave For AllChildcare ServicesContinuing EdEd LeaveElder Care ServicesFlexible Work ScheduleMentoringStress Reduction Program
Arkansas State University-BeebeYESNOYESYESNOYESNONO
California State U. Channel IslandsYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
Indiana U.-Purdue U. IndianapolisYESYESYESNONOYESN/RYES
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleYESYESYESYESNOYESYESYES
Texas A&M University-Corpus ChristiYESNONONONOYESNOYES
University of Maine at MachiasYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES


Arkansas State University-Beebe
Jonesboro, AR / Founded 1909
"One of the strengths of Arkansas State University-Beebe Student Support Services is its commitment to professional development that begins as soon as a staff person is hired. As the vice chancellor, I personally conduct additional orientation for all new student services employees, which includes such items as a historical perspective of our profession, how to take advantage of all of the university’s professional development opportunities (including tuition waivers, time-off to take classes and/or wellness) and a promise of my personal support of their involvement in professional organizations. I also include professional development training in every Student Services staff meeting that occurs twice a semester."
-Dr. Deborah Garrett
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Bridgewater State University
Bridgewater, MA / Founded 1837
"From my perspective, our division has some of the best, nationally recognized student affairs leaders working together on student engagement, retention and success. What is most promising to those joining our student affairs community is that they will be professionally challenged and engaged by our progressive staff and diverse student population to do meaningful work."
-Dr. Jason B. Pina
Vice President of Student Affairs
Bryant University
Smithfield, RI / Founded 1863
"Creating an environment that is promising and engaging for staff begins with putting ego aside and being open to ideas and change. The strength of any staff is its new professionals and an ability to keep their idealism alive!"
—Dr. John R. Saddlemire
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
California State University-Channel Islands
Camarillo, CA / Founded 2001
"I am honored that California State University Channel Islands (CI) has been selected as one of the Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs 2016 for the second consecutive year. CI’s Division of Student Affairs’ aim is to provide students with excellent needsbased programs and services that cultivate a diverse learning community where leadership, wellness, personal and civic responsibility are valued and embraced. At CI, it is our belief that the excellence of a university begins and ends with the well-being of its campus membership. Receiving the recognition of one of the most promising universities to work for in student affairs for a second time is a tribute to, and confirmation of, the dedicated and committed staff in the Division of Student Affairs at CSU Channel Islands. This is indeed an honor for our campus and community."
—Dr. Wm. Gregory Sawyer
Vice President for Student Affairs
Centre College
Danville, KY / Founded 1819
"Working at Centre for these 20-plus years has been rewarding beyond what I ever anticipated. I am so fortunate to work with a team of educators who are dedicated to preparing our students for lives of learning, of leadership, of service. It is that common mission that unites our diverse back-grounds and experiences as a team of professionals striving to serve all of our students. In the end, they are why we do this work — and why it’s so meaningful to receive this award."
—Randy Hays
Vice President and Dean of Student Life
Hamline University
St. Paul, MN / Founded 1854
"Hamline University possesses a strong commitment to diversity in our workplace and in the staffing practices of our departments. The Student Affairs Division has historically hired staff that value diversity as part of their professional identity and growth interest. Given Hamline’s longstanding commitment to diversity in all forms, our Student Affairs [Division] is particularly honored to receive this award from Diverse … for the second time in three years. We appreciate this important recognition from your publication and hope that Diverse’s message of access and opportunity for all in higher education will continue to spread within the realm of all institutions of higher learning in the United States and abroad."
—Dr. Alan Sickbert
Dean of Students
Hofstra Univeristy
Hempstead, NY / Founded 1935
"This is a terrific time to be on our student affairs team at Hofstra. We are welcoming, creative, inclusive, and student-centered – providing an amazing place to be an intentional student affairs educator and student advocate. Our commitment to building positive relationships with students, colleagues, and families supports our constant desire to proactively embrace the best and next practices that promote student success. The Hofstra DSA is proud to be named to this list of most promising divisions in which to work."
—W. Houston Dougharty
Vice President for Student Affairs
Indiana U.-Purdue U. Indianapolis
Indianapolis, IN / Founded 1969
"I am humbled by the recognition as one of the 2016 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs. In the Division of Student Affairs at IUPUI, we work diligently to create spaces that recognize, respect and celebrate diversity. We model and practice fostering a community that promotes equal participation, honors and respects differences, and teaches multicultural competency."
—Dr. Zebulun R. Davenport
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Indiana University Southeast
New Albany, IN / Founded 1941
"This accolade is a reflection of the values and strategic focus of the IU Southeast Student Affairs team. We are committed to diversity in varying ideas, thoughts and approaches to creatively enhance the campus experience. Our Student Affairs team embraces diversity as the nexus where the shared value for student learning and engagement intersects with the uniqueness of each person’s identity. Diversity is not just a word for our team, it is woven into the fabric of our operation."
—Jason L. Meriwether
Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
The Ohio State Univeristy
Columbus, OH / Founded 1870
"Supporting students is challenging but rewarding, and cannot occur without a staff that is whole-heartedly devoted to creating the extraordinary student experience. Our team at Ohio State is simply phenomenal and I am proud to have their efforts recognized by being included on the list of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs."
—Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston
Vice President for Student Life
Saint Louis University
Saint Louis, MO / Founded 1818
"Saint Louis University is truly honored to be selected as one of the 2016 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs. This is the second consecutive year we have been recognized in this way, which is both thrilling and humbling. Staff diversity is critical to our aspiration to be an exemplary student affairs division that supports student success and holistic learning. We want our students to understand and appreciate the interconnectedness of multiple perspectives and cultural identities as part of a broader humanity. We expect Saint Louis University students to express compassion for others, act in service with others and pursue social change that serves a greater good. At Saint Louis University we call this 'higher purpose, greater good.'"
—Dr. Kent Porterfield
Vice President for Student Development
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsvilly, IL / Founded 1957
"The university’s Division of Student Affairs displays a strong commitment to the mission, vision and values of SIUE. On a daily basis, we work to enhance a welcoming campus culture that features citizenship, inclusion, wisdom, excellence and integrity."
-Dr. Jeffrey N. Waple
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, TX / Founded 1947
"It’s very rewarding and reassuring when your efforts in inclusion are recognized, and we are deeply honored to receive this designation. The university provides a supportive, multicultural learning community on the cultural border with Latin America. The Division of Student Engagement and Success is committed to an environment that values and celebrates diversity and cultures."
-Dr. Don D. Albrecht
Vice President for Student Engagement
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX / Founded 1899
"It gives me great pleasure for our Student Affairs Division to be named a promising place to work. Our philosophy is based on building a culture of care for students and staff and making sure that everyone feels they matter at Texas State. We work in the spirit of collaboration and share our resources with each other to benefit the students and to ensure that each department successfully completes their mission."
-Dr. Joanne H. Smith
Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Maine at Machias
Machias, ME / Founded 1909
"It is an honor to receive this recognition from a highly respected and innovative organization — American College Personnel Association. Our student affairs staff is exemplary in numerous ways. They are committed to student empowerment, creation of diverse learning opportunities, and engagement with students to explore the true meaning of diversity and inclusion. It is an honor to work with an innovative and dedicated group of professionals."
-Dr. Melvin D. Adams III
Dean of Students and Admissions
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA / Founded 1906
"We are all about employee engagement and developing leaders. That, along with paying close attention to hiring great people and giving them the tools to be successful, make for a great work environment at West Georgia where our employees give the students the service they need and deserve. Great People, doing Great Work, at a Great Place!"
-Dr. Scot A. Lingrell
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management
The Univeristy of Vermont
Burlington, VT / Founded 1791
"The University of Vermont is an exciting place to work, learn and grow. It is an honor to be recognized as one of the Most Promising Places to work in Student Affairs. Our division is steadfast to our commitment to engage and promote inclusivity, diversity and multicultural competency in all of our professional development endeavors. We offer opportunities for staff to authentically engage in this work through a variety of large-scale programs, intimate workshops, and the attendance of local and national conferences. The result of our 14-plus year commitment has generated positive results that are reflected in our practices, policies and programs. I look forward to our future as we take the next steps to deepen our capacity to provide the vital services needed for our changing student population."
-Dr. Annie Stevens
Vice Provost for Student Life
Univserity of Denver
Denver, CO / Founded 1864
"We are fortunate to have a dedicated and committed staff of competent student aff airs professionals who value and understand the importance of inclusive excellence. We take inclusive excellence seriously at the University of Denver and have made issues of power, privilege and oppression a priority in our strategic planning, student programming, professional development, hiring and recruiting, and student learning outcomes. We are honored and excited to be named as a Most Promising Place to Work in Student Affairs!"
-Dr. Patricia S. Helton
Associate Provost
Virginia Tech
Blackburg University, VA / Founded 1872
"The Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech is honored to receive this award. Given our commitment to diversity and inclusion, our robust student learningcentered divisional curriculum, our engagement in best assessment practices, and our collaborative, connected and transparent colleagueship and leadership, it is important for me to honor and celebrate my colleagues with others."
-Dr. Patricia A. Perillo
Vice President for Student Affairs