2018 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

Promising Places to work logos

Now in its fifth 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 commited to staff work-life balance, professional development and inclusive excellence. MPPWSA offers intitutional 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.

Other Years

2024 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2017 2016 2015 2014 
InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControlEnrollment
California State University Channel IslandsDr. Wm. Gregory SawyerCamarillo, CA4-yearpublic6,167
Clark UniversityDr. Francy MageeWorcester, MA4-yearprivate3,094
Holy Names UniversityMichael MillerOakland, CA4-yearprivate866
Miami UniversityDr. Jayne BrownellOxford, OH4-yearpublic8,437
Pennsylvania College of TechnologyElliott StricklandWilliamsport, PA4-yearpublic5,465
Rutgers-New BrunswickDr. Felicia E. McGintyNew Brunswick, NJ4-yearpublic37,364
Saint Louis UniversityDr. Kent PorterfieldSt. Louis, MO4-yearprivate13,287
Shepherd UniversityDr. Thomas C. SegarShepherdstown, WV4-yearpublic3,779
The Ohio State UniversityDr. Javaune Adams-GastonColumbus, OH4-yearpublic66,444
The University of VermontDr. Annie StevensBurlington, VT4-yearpublic11,898
Towson UniversityDr. Deb MoriartyTowson, MD4-yearpublic22,284
University of West GeorgiaDr. Scot LingrellCarrollton, GA4-yearpublic13,308
Virginia TechDr. Patricia PerilloBlacksburg, VA4-yearpublic30,598


This study was first proposed by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education as a possible partnership with the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) in 2011.

Dr. Terrell 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 Most 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, commitments, work environments, and staffng practices.


We invite readers to share with us how they’re using this year’s report of Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (PPWSA). Share with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using #PPWSA21 and tag @DiverseIssues and @ACPA


Dr. Terrell Lamont Strayhorn (principal investigator) is professor and founding CEO of Do Good Work Educational Consulting LLC, a research firm that specializes in translating research discoveries to improve policy and practice, as a way of ensuring all students’ success. Author of 10 books, more than 200 journal articles, chapters, and reports, Strayhorn is an internationally known student success expert and public speaker.

Dr. Royel Montel Johnson(co-principal investigator) is assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, within the Departement of Education Policy Studies. 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.


Building on the success of previous years, we are excited to include a set of "promising practices" in this year’s report for Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs. As the MPPWSA project matures each year, we learn more and more about what various institutions are doing to increase staff diversity, to foster a sense of belonging and to eqip college student educators with the ability to work with students. In previous editions of Diverse, we shared practices that hold promise for achieving the outcomes we desire with student affairs staff. This year, we present the growing list of 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
California State University Channel Islands872YESN/RN/RN/R$105,909$71,727$50,515
Clark University273YESYESYESN/R$80,000$55,000$38,000
Holy Names University298YESYESNON/R$105,000$55,000$45,000
Miami University10777NONONON/R$93,703$55,426$38,493
Pennsylvania College of Technology116280YESNOYESNO$93,338$58,927$42,071
Rutgers-New Brunswick1,2182,696YESYESYESYES$120,000$75,000$50,000
Saint Louis University15436YESYESN/RNO$152,840$68,260$38,980
Shepherd University6128YESNONONO$86,500$50,000$36,000
The Ohio State University1,1626,151NOYESN/RN/R$126,049$67,678$45,166
The University of Vermont1973YESYESYESYES$96,000$56,000$36,000
Towson University1435YESNON/RN/R$119,991$72,065$53,182
University of West Georgia210700YESYESNONO$110,000$52,000$36,000
Virginia Tech622,429NOYESN/RN/R$110,095$64,853$45,160


InstitutionCargiving Leave For AllChildcare ServicesContinuing EdEd LeaveElder Care ServicesFlexible Work ScheduleMentoringStress Reduction Program
California State University Channel IslandsYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
Pennsylvania College of TechnologyYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES


Tracey Cameron, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean of Intercultural Education
Director Harambee House
Advisory 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 Emeritus, 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


California State University-Channel Islands
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 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 the 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
Clark Univesity
Worcester, MA / Founded 1887
"Clark University’s Division of Student Affairs is honored to be part of, and recognized for, the work we are embracing with strategy and heart. We have committed as a team to engage in practices shaped by shared paradigms for improving inclusion and for dismantling systematic oppression and inequity. We bring our whole selves to this work, including what we know professionally as well as personally, which enables our collective learning as individuals and as a team. While this is work that, at times, feels risky and is oten unclear in terms of exact next steps, we do it, knowing we will learn together to be better able to support each other, serve our students, and help others on campus."
-Dr. Francy Magee
Assistant Provost & Dean of Students
Holy Names University
Oakland, CA / Founded 1868
Holy Names University founded in 1868. The Holy Names campus provides a close-knit, supportive environment that allows for rigorous leaning and personal development. Students experience close partnerships with distinguished faculty and learn to question, experiment, research and sharpen professional skills that they will use throughout their lives.
-Michael Miller
VP for Student Affairs
Miami University
Oxford, OH / Founded 1809
"Our Division of Student Affairs team has increased our focus of creating transformational opportunities and inclusive environments at Miami where all students can learn, grow and succeed. Being recognized by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education for the second year in a row really encourages us to continue on this path in our work."
-Dr. Jayne Brownell
VP for Student Affairs
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Williamsport, PA / Affiliated 1989
"We are honored to be recognized for a second time as the Most Promising Place to Work in Student Affairs. Pennsylvania College of Technology is unique in the landscape of higher education: a national leader in applied technology education in a traditional campus setting focused on student learning and development. Our impact on students is a testament to the hard work of our talented staff. At Penn College, people make the differenct."
-Elliott Stickland
VP for Student Affairs
Rutgers University-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, we have placed great emphasis on further strengthening the 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 have had a number of our employees by recognized nationally for their contributions to the profession."
-Dr. Felicia McGinty
VC for Student Affairs
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO / Founded 1818
"Saint Louis University is truly honored to be selected as one of the 2018 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs. This is the fourth 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 for Studnet Development
Shepherd University
Shepherdstown, WV / Founded 1871
"Receiving this honor affirms Shepherd University’s commitment to inclusive staffing practices and a collaborative work environment. I am thrilled we have received this award again and know this recognition has been made possible through remarkable colleagues in Student Affairs and throughout our institution."
-Dr. Thomas C. Segar
VP for Student Affairs
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH / Founded 1870
"I have said many times that the Student Life staff at Ohio State is among the best in the field. Their dedication to creating the extraordinary student experience for each and every student is not just a goal, it is a way of going about our work. I am grateful and proud that our team’s efforts and expertise are being recognized for the fourth year with a place on the list of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs."
-Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston
Senior VP for Student Life
The University 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 acknowledge the institutionalized oppression and systemic recism 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 of 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
Towson University
Towson, MD / Founded 1865
"Towson University (TU) offers students the best of both worlds. We have the academic programs and exceptional faculty typical of a large university coupled with the close-knit community and personalized approach of a small college. TU’s wide range of programs and extracurricular activities contribute to a dynamic student experience. Students can pursue diverse interests and cultivate undiscovered talents."
-Dr. Deb Moriarty
VP of Student Affairs
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA / Rounded 1906
"This recognition for the fifth year in a row is a testament to the excellent work that is done 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 it 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
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, 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 and 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" (That I May Serve) are reasons we receive such distinctions."
-Dr. Patricia A. Perillo
VP for Student Affairs