2017 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

Promising Places to work logos

Now in its fourth 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 sued 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!

Other Years

2024 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2016 2015 2014 
InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControlEnrollment
Bellarmine UniversityDr. Helen Grace RyanLouisville, KY4-yearprivate3,609
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis ObispoDr. Keith B. HumphreySan Luis Obispo, CA4-yearpublic20,186
California State University Channel IslandsDr. Wm. Gregory SawyerCamarillo, CA4-yearpublic5,879
College of William & MaryDr. Virginia AmblerWilliamsburg, VA4-yearpublic8,437
Hofstra UniversityW. Houston DoughartyHempstead, NY4-yearprivate10,953
Indiana University SoutheastDr. Jason MeriwetherNew Albany, IN4-yearpublic6,442
Lynn UniversityWDr. Phillip RiordanBoca Raton, FL4-yearprivate2,613
Miami UniversityDr. Jayne BrownellOxford, OH4-yearpublic18,620
The Ohio State UniversityDr. Javaune Adams-GastonColumbus, OH4-yearpublic58,322
Olivet CollegeDr. Linda LoganOlivet, MI4-yearprivate1,058
Rutgers University-New BrunswickDr. Felicia E. McGintyNew Brunswick, NJ4-yearpublic48,378
Saint Louis UniversityDr. Kent PorterfieldSt. Louis, MO4-yearprivate17,052
Shepherd UniversityDr. Thomas Christopher SegarShepherdstown, WV4-yearpublic4,041
Stony Brook UniversityDr. Peter BaigentStony Brook, NY4-yearpublic24,607
University of North Carolina at WilmingtonPatricia LeonardWilmington, NC4-yearpublic14,570
The University of VermontDr. Annie StevensBurlington, VT4-yearpublic12,856
Univeristy of West GeorgiaDr. Scot LingrellCarrollton, GA4-yearpublic10,206
Virginia TechDr. Patricia A. PerilloBlacksburg, VA4-yearpublic31,224


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 (OSU), 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 of various divisions of student affairs (or equivalent) at participating ACPA-member institutions across the globe, including administrative structures, commitments, work environments, and staffing practices.


The Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) is an interdisciplinary research 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 OSU, where he also serves as director of 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 300 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. Royel M. Johnson (Project Coordinator) is a researcher and policy analyst for CHEE. His research focuses on major policy- and practice-relevant issues in education such as: college access and success; race, equity, and diversity; and student learning and development. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book on historically Black colleges and universities and has published dozens of journal articles, book chapters, and other academic publications. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education and student affairs from OSU.

This project also benefited from the contributions of other CHEE staff who helped contact administrators, craft institutional profiles and elecit quotations. These include(in alphabetical order): Shay Merritté, Danny Ndungu, Regina Robinson-Easter, Tiffany Steele, and Catherine Wang.


Building on the success of last year, we are excited to include another set of "promising practices" in this year’s report for Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs 2017. As the MPPWSA project matures each year, we learn more and more about what’s going on at various institutions to increase staff diversity, foster a sense of belonging and equip college student educators for their work with students. In last year’s edition of Diverse, we shared five practices that hold promise for achieving the outcomes we desire with student affairs staff. This year we present four new promising practices.


Institution# Full Time Staff# Part Time Staff50% Female30% Ethnic Minority5% LGBT Staff5% Staff with DisabilitiesAverage Salary SeniorAverage Salary Mid-LevelAverage Salary Entry-Level
Bellarmine University486NONONON/R$80,000$65,000$48,000
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo42438YESN/RYESNO$161,267$83,152$43,152
California State University Channel Islands720YESYESYESNO$103,687$83,152$43,152
College of William & Mary12230YESNONON/R$108,327$59,404$36,500
Hofstra University1059YESNOYESYES$90,000$60,000$48,500
Indiana University Southeast5475YESNON/RN/RN/RN/RN/R
Lynn University671NONONONO$80,000$50,000$42,000
Miami University10577N/RN/RN/RN/R$73,137$58,463$41,575
The Ohio State University11194981NOYESN/RN/R$117,055$64,800$47,647
Olivet College96YESNON/RN/R$65,000$50,000$32,000
Rutgers University-New Brunswick1060333YESNOYESYESN/RN/RN/R
Saint Louis University17336YESNON/RNO$137,900$79,020$41,180
Shepherd University3628YESNOYESNO$78,000$50,000$30,000
Stony Brook University6268YESYESN/RN/R$125,000$70,000$40,000
University of North Carolina at Wilmington15310YESNOYESNO$90,000$70,000$48,000
The University of Vermont1786YESNOYESYES$112,000$58,000$44,000
Univeristy of West Georgia20475YESYESNON/R$90,000$50,000$36,000
Virginia Tech7952450YESNONON/R$108,667$68,648$34,818


InstitutionCargiving Leave For AllChildcare ServicesContinuing EdEd LeaveElder Care ServicesFlexible Work ScheduleMentoringStress Reduction Program
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis ObispoYESYESYESYESNOYESNOYES
California State University Channel IslandsYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
Indiana University SoutheastYESYESNONOYESYESNOYES
Rutgers University-New BrunswickYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
University of North Carolina at WilmingtonYESNONONONOYESNOYES


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
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


Bellarmine University
Louisville, KY / Founded 1950
"At the end of the day, it is about the students we serve. At Bellarmine University, the Division of Student Affairs is comprised of compassionate, dedicated professionals who champoin students’ educational, professional, and spiritual goals. This mission guides our everyday work. Hospitality is at the core of our institutional mission and who we are as an institution. Within the Division, we work to extend that same hospitality to one another through professional development opportunities at every staff meeting, a formal staff mentoring program, inclusive conversations around strategiv initiatives, staff orientation, professional engagement, and encouragement for people to dream it - so that they may do it."
-Dr. Helen Grace Ryan
VP for Student Affairs
California State University Channel Island
Camarillo, CA / Founded 2002
"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 (2017) for the third consecutive year. CI’s Division of Student Affairs’ aim is to provide students with excellent needs-based 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 third 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
VP for Student Affairs
California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo, CA / Founded 1901
"In Cal Poly Student Affairs we work every day to ensure that the quality of our out-of-class experience matches the quality of our in-class experience. My priority as vice president is to create an environment that allows our team to show up as leaders and do their best work for students. We are honored to be named a 'most promising place to work in Student Affairs,' as this recognition reflects the intentional work we have done to be a model division and elevate the prestige of a Cal Poly degree."
—Dr. Keith B. Humphrey
VP for Student Affairs
College of William & Mary
Williamsburg, VA / Founded 1693
"Our division is strongest when all voices are honored and when colleagues are respected for the unique expertise, talents and perspectives they bring to our work. Creating open, respectful environments is essential for staff to flourish in their roles. I am grateful to work with colleagues who share a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. Not only are they remarkable role models for our students, but they are also a daily inspiration to me."
—Virginia Ambler
VP for Student Affairs
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY / Founded 1935
"Once again it is gratifying and exciting for our Hofstra Student Affairs Division to be recognized in this special way. Our continued focus on being educators and advocates for Hofstra students – and working with colleagues to embrace and implement best and next student aff airs practices – makes us a staff that attracts and retains a particularly talented and diverse team of professionals. As our divisional mission expresses, our focus is 'to intentionally create a vibrant, healthy, and secure learning environment – where personal responsibility and positive action lead to thriving and success.' Being included in this group of 18 divisions nationally attests to our fervent commitment to Hofstra and our terrific students."
—Dr. Houston Dougharty
VP for Student Affairs
Indiana University Southeast
New Albany, IN / Founded 1941
"As a regional university, our commitment to diversity reflects dedication to meeting the needs of a diverse and evolving student population. As each student pursues a degree, exposure to new ideas, beliefs, perspectives, traditions and values will enhance their skills and more effectively prepare them to contribute to society. Through a diverse experience at IU Southeast, our graduates are prepared to enter a global workforce where emphasis on learning, understanding and collaboration generates success."
—Dr. Jason Meriwether
VP for Student Affairs
Lynn University
Boca Raton, FL / Founded 1962
"On behalf of the entire Division of Student Affairs at Lynn University, we are extremely honored and humbled to be named one of The 2017 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs. This acknowledgment is reflective of the hard work and dedication of each and every staff member (professional and paraprofessional) that works in Student Affairs at Lynn University. As the vice president for student affairs, I am blessed to work with such a creative, innovative and dynamic team."
—Dr. Phillip Riordan
VP for Student Affairs
Miami University
Oxford, OH / Founded 1809
"I feel incredibly fortunate to work with such a committed, enthusiastic team of Student Affairs professionals. I have been at Miami for three years, and in that time, I have seen us make great strides in building a team that works together as one Division, rather than a collection of offices, each focused on its own priorities. Defining our Divisional focus areas of belonging, support, engagement and community, along with stewardship of our financial and human resources, ensures that we are all working toward the same goals and allows us to work across office boundaries for the benefit of our students."
—Dr. Jayne Brownell
VP for Student Affairs
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH / Founded 1870
"A commitment to support student success cannot happen without a staff committed to the hard work that goes into providing that support. Our Ohio State Student Life team is second to none in its dedication, talent and ability create the extraordinary student experience. It is gratifying that their efforts are recognized through being included on the list of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs."
—Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston
VP for Student Affairs
Olivet College
Olivet, MI / Founded 1844
"At Olivet College, we are intentional about the work that we do in diversity, inclusion and cultural competence, and as a team we are honored to be recognized for these eff orts. Olivet College has been rooted in social justice since its founding, and today we continue to build on this great legacy through our mission of individual and social responsibility while treating people with respect and dignity. The Olivet College Office of Student Life remains committed to providing the leadership, training and expertise to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront for our community. The professional student life staff, including student employees, is required to participate in diversity and inclusion related training and conferences annually. For example, this past year the entire department participated in a microaggression training. We are thankful and feel fortunate to have strong support from the president’s and provost’s offices which aid our efforts. Again, this is a great honor and validates the work we do each day."
—Dr. Linda Logan
VP and Dean of Student Life
Rutgers U.-New Brunswick
New Brunswick, NJ / Founded 1766
"We’re honored to be recognized again as a promising place to work in the field of student affairs. Since our last recognition in 2014, we have placed great emphases on further strengthening to organizational environment within the Division of Student Affairs at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Our new tag-line, 'There’s a U in Rutgers,' emphasizes the responsibility that all divisional staff members have with shaping the divisional culture positively for all stakeholders. The steps that we have taken to build upon our last recognition have led to an influx of new talented staff into the division and to a renewed commitment by current staff towards achieving a high level of excellence in all we do. In the past year, we ahve had a number of our employees be recognized nationally for their contributions to the profession."
—Dr. Felicia McGinty
VP of Student Affairs
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
VP of Student Development
Shepherd University
Shepherdstow, WV / Founded 1871
"We believe being named a promising place to work in student affairs affirms our division and institution’s commitment to diversity and inclusion."
-Dr. Thomas C. Segar
VP for Student Affair
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY / Founded 1957
"Among our organization’s most valuable assets is our diverse identity. We continue to invest in our people and strive for equity, inclusion and organizational health. We do so because it strengthens our organization, recognizes the value of our people and ultimately empowers us to serve our students more effectively."
-Dr. Peter Baigent
VP for Student Affairs
U. of North Carolina at Wilminton
Wilmingtion, NC / Founded 1947
"It’s an honor to be included on this list of 'Most Promising Places' given the commitment our student affairs team makes to each and every UNCW student: one of integrity, inclusion and support toward enhancing their academic journey however we can. I am fortunate to have staff who are so collaborative - with each other and with partners on campus - and so engaged with our student body. Engagement is one of our core values, and we challenge ourselves as student affairs professionals to 'walk the walk' of that value every day."
-Patricia Leonard
VP for Student Affairs
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA / Founded 1906
"This recognition for the fourth year in a row is a testament to the excellent work that is down every day in the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at the University of West Georgia. The recognition is not what we strive for, but is a natural outcome of keeping students first, and focusing on our Divisional Goals of Caring, Collaboration, and Growth and Development. I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts our employees make to help students succeed."
-Dr. Scott Lingrell
VP for Student Affairs
The Univeristy of Vermont
Burlington, VT / Founded 1791
"I am deeply humbled to accept this designation on behalf of the University of Vermont’s Division of Student Affairs. While this recognition is a significant marker of achievement, we know there is still much work to be done. As a division, we acknowledg the institutionalized oppression and systemic racism that continues to manifest nationally, locally and on our campus. I continue to be sincerely grateful for the outstanding professionals in our division, who consistently push us to strive for greater equity and inclusion.
We remain actively engaged in this work in order to thoughtfully provide programs and services that meet the diverse identities and changing needs for our students. We know this work can, at times, be difficult; and yet, we believe it is integral to creating a more inclusive campus and abiding social change."
-Dr. Annie Stevens
VP of Student Life
Virginia Tech
Blackburg University, VA / Founded 1872
"Virginia Tech’s Division of Student Affairs is a community of educators and lifelong learners. Our Aspirations for Student Learning and the university’s Principles of Community are espoused values, and ones we as a division can do articulate, uphold and model. We underscore the concept of 'to know and be known,' and I believe that sense of belonging and our commitment to the university’s motto of "Ut Prosim" (This I May Serve) are reasons we receive such distinctions."
-Dr. Patricia A. Perillo
VP for Student Affairs