2019 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

Promising Places to work logos

Now in its 6th 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 emplyers, career services staff and job-seekers across the country.

Other Years

2024 2023 2022 2021 2020 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 
InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControlEnrollment
Bowling Green State UniversityDr. Thomas GibsonBowling Green, OH4-yearpublic17,357
Brevard CollegeDr. Debbie D’AnnaBrevard, NC4-yearprivate677
California State Polytechnic U-San Luis ObispoDr. Keith HumphreySan Luis Obispo, CA4-yearprivate22,370
California State University-Channel IslandsDr. Richard YaoCamarillo, CA4-yearpublic7,455
College of William & MaryDr. Ginger AmblerWilliamsburg, VA4-yearpublic8,740
James Madison UniversityDr. Tim MillerHarrisonburg, VA4-yearpublic21,836
Pennsylvania College of TechnologyElliott StricklandWilliamsport, PA4-yearprivate5,457
Rhode Island CollegeDr. Jason L. MeriwetherProvidence, RI4-yearpublic8,171
Rutgers University-New BrunswickDr. Salvador B. MenaNew Brunswick, NJ4-yearpublic49,577
Saint Louis UniversityDr. Kent PorterfieldSt. Louis, MO4-yearpublic14,581
Samuel Merritt UniversityDr. Terry NordstromOakland, CA4-yearpublic2,141
Sonoma State UniversityDr. Wm. Gregory SawyerRohnert Park, CA4-yearpublic9,481
St. Louis College of PharmacyDr. Heather FrenchSt. Louis, MO4-yearprivate30,598
The Ohio State University-ColumbusDr. Javaune Adams-GastonColumbus, OH4-yearpublic59,837
University of Hawaii at HiloDr. Farrah-Marie GomesHilo, HI4-yearpublic3,539
University of Maryland-BaltimoreDr. Patty AlvarezBaltimore, MD4-yearpublic13,662
University of VermontDr. Annie StevensBurlington, VT4-yearpublic13,340
University of West GeorgiaDr. Scot LingrellCarrollton, GA4-yearpublic13,520
Virginia PolyTechnic Institute and State UniversityDr. Patricia A. PerilloBlacksburg, VA4-yearpublic34,440
West Chester University of PennsylvaniaDr. Zebulun DavenportWest Chester, PA4-yearpublic7,306


This study was first proposed by 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.

Dr. 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 permeate aspects of various divisions of student affairs (or eqivalent) at participating ACPA-member institutions across the globe including administrative structures, 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 gener, race, sexual orientation and disability status. There are several sections that measure the availability and extent of support services provided to student affairs staff on campus, such as professional development.

The survey was authored by Terrell Strayhorn, with input from experts on the project advisory board, and is not available in the public domain. Now part of the larger project, Most Promising Places to Work, the survey has been administered by Strayhorn and his teams at various centers, Do Good Work Educational Consulting LLC, and in 2018 by a paid external consultant hired by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. All analyses presented in this edition were conducted by Terrell Strayhorn and Royel Johnson.


Dr. Terrell Lamont Strayhorn(principal investigator) is vice president of academic and student affairs at LeMoyne-Owen College, where he also serves as professor of urban education. He is CEO of Do Good Work Educational Consulting, LLC, a research firm that specializes in translating research discoveries to improve policy and practice. Author of 10 books, more than 200 journal articles, chapters and reports, Strayhorn is a prolific scholar, internationally known student success expert, and highly sought public speaker. He has delivered keynotes and public lectures at more than 500 campuses and conferences across the globe. In 2011, he was named as an Emerging Scholar in his field by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

Dr. Royel Montel Johnson (co-principal investigator) is assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University within the Department of Educational Policy Studies. His research focuses on major policy- and practice-relevant issues in education such as college access and success; race, equality 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.

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 quotations from personnel at featured institutions. These include (in alphabetical order): Stanley Gates, Shay Merritte, Danny Ndungu, Tiffany Steele and Catherine Wang.


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 2019. As the MPPWSA project matures each year, we learn more and more about what’s going on at various institutions to increase staff diversity, to foster a sense of belonging and to eqip college student educators for their 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# Part Time Staff50% Female30% Ethnic Minority5% LGBT Staff5% Staff with DisabilitiesAverage Salary SeniorAverage Salary Mid-LevelAverage Salary Entry-Level
Bowling Green State University5YESN/RN/RN/R$105,000$55,000$45,000
Brevard College1NON/RNON/R$38,000$35,000$28,000
California State Polytechnic U-San Luis Obispo97YESN/RN/RN/R$162,715$74,279$46,578
California State University-Channel Islands1YESN/RN/RN/R$106,559$72,592$53,989
College of William & Mary33YESN/RNON/R$117,479$63,074$36,608
James Madison University50N/RN/RN/RN/R$110,000$55,000$36,600
Pennsylvania College of TechnologyN/RYESN/RN/RN/RN/RN/RN/R
Rhode Island College13YESNON/RNO$90,777$63,665$45,895
Rutgers University-New Brunswick2,620YESYESYESN/R$120,000$80,000$55,000
Saint Louis University32YESYESN/RN/R$135,000$67,789$39,494
Samuel Merritt University3YESYESYESNO$110,000$90,000$70,000
Sonoma State University105YESNONON/R$138,876$76,824$57,816
St. Louis College of Pharmacy3YESNOYESYES$89,000$58,000$40,000
The Ohio State University-Columbus5,331NOYESN/RN/R$127,274$69,031$47,089
University of Hawaii at Hilo4YESYESN/RN/R$110,000$75,000$50,000
University of Maryland-Baltimore200YESYESYESN/R$94,000$64,000$48,000
University of Vermont4YESNOYESYES$100,000$60,000$43,000
University of West Georgia71YESYESN/RN/R$97,000$53,000$38,000
Virginia PolyTechnic Institute and State University2,344YESYESN/RN/R$124,716$57,928$44,521
West Chester University of Pennsylvania27YESNONOYES$107,176$71,589$47,596


InstitutionCargiving Leave For AllChildcare ServicesContinuing EdEd LeaveElder Care ServicesFlexible Work ScheduleMentoringStress Reduction Program
Bowling Green State UniversityYESNOYESNONONONOYES
California State Polytechnic U-San Luis ObispoYESYESYESYESNOYESNOYES
California State University-Channel IslandsYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
Pennsylvania College of TechnologyYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES
Rutgers University-New BrunswickYESYESYESYESNOYESNOYES
St. Louis College of PharmacyYESNONOYESNONONONO
The Ohio State University-ColumbusYESYESYESYESYESYESNOYES
University of Hawaii at HiloYESNONOYESNONONOYES
University of Maryland-BaltimoreYESNOYESNONOYESNOYES
Virginia PolyTechnic Institute and State UniversityYESYESYESYESYESYESNOYES
West Chester University of PennsylvaniaNOYESYESYESYESYESNOYES


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
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