2022 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs

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Now in its 9th year, Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (PPWSA) 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. PPWSA 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 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 
InstitutionSenior Student Affairs OfficerLocationLevelControl
California Poly State UKeith Humphrey, Ph.D.San Luis Obispo, CA4-yearpublic
Case Western Reserve UniversityLou W. StarkCleveland, OH4-yearprivate
Colgate UniversityPaul J. McLoughlin II, Ph.D.Hamilton, NY4-yearprivate
Elon UniversityJon Dooley, Ph.D.Elon, NC4-yearprivate
Fontbonne UniversityHeather French, Ed.D.St. Louis, MO4-yearprivate
Holy Names UniversityLaura Lyndon, Ed.D.Oakland, CA4-yearprivate
Kent State UniversityLamar Hylton, Ph.D.Kent, OH4-yearpublic
Rider UniversityLeanna Fenneberg, Ph.D.Lawrenceville, NJ4-yearprivate
Stockton UniversityChristopher Catching, Ed.D.Galloway, NJ4-yearpublic
The U of North Carolina at GreensboroCathy Akens, Ed.D.Greensboro, NC4-yearpublic
The University of DelawareJose-Luis Riera, Ph.D.Newark, DE4-yearpublic
The University of Maryland, College ParkPatricia A. Perillo, Ph.D.College Park, MD4-yearpublic
University of California, RiversideBrian L. Haynes, Ph.D.Riverside, CA4-yearpublic
University of Maryland-BaltimorePatty Alvarez, Ph.D.Baltimore, MD4-yearpublic
West Chester University of PennsylvaniaZebulun Davenport, Ed.D.Westchester, PA4-yearpublic
William & MaryVirginia M. Ambler, Ph.D.Williamsburg, VA4-yearpublic


This study was first proposed by Ralph Newell at 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 Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (PPWSA) 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.


The PPWSA 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 gender, 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 ‘Promising Places to Work’ project, the survey has been administered by Strayhorn and his teams at various centers and Do Good Work Educational Consulting LLC. All survey rights belong to the author. All analyses presented in this edition were conducted by Terrell Strayhorn and Royel Johnson.


We invite readers to share with us how they’re using this year’s report of Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs (MPPWSA). Share with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using #PPWSA22 and tag @DiverseIssues and @ACPA.

Past editions of this annual report have been used by:

  • Accrediting agencies
  • Employers
  • Human resource managers
  • Job Seekers
  • Professional associations


    Dr. Terrell Strayhorn is provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Virginia Union University, where he also serves as professor of urban education and director of the Center for the Study of HBCUs. Additionally, he is president and CEO of Do Good Work Educational Consulting LLC, a research firm that partners with leading colleges and schools to improve policy and practice, as a way of ensuring all students’ success. Author of 11 books, more than 200 journal articles, chapters, and reports, Strayhorn is an internationally known student success expert, equity researcher, and public speaker. Diverse: Issues In Higher Education named him an Emerging Scholar and he has received ACPA’s Emerging Scholar, Annuit Coeptis, and Diamond Honoree Awards. Follow him on Twitter @tlstrayhorn.

    Dr. Royel Johnson is an associate professor of higher education at the University of Southern California(USC). As a scholar, Johnson engages in interdisciplinary research on issues related to educational access, equity, and student success. He is lead editor of Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice (SUNY Press) and has over 40 academic publications. For his early career contributions to higher education and student affairs research, ACPA-College Student Educators International named him an Emerging Scholar in 2020. Follow him on Twitter @royeljohnson.

    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 institutions. These include (in alphabetical order): Stanley Gates, Shay Merritte, Danny Ndungu, Tiffany Steele, Catherine Wang, Anton Smith, Gabriel Kim, and Daniel Thomas. The original advisory board for this project included Drs. Tracey Cameron, Stan Carpenter, Kristen Renn, Joan Hirt and Sue Saunders.


    Institution# Full Time Staff# Part Time Staff50% Female30% Ethnic Minority5% LGBT Staff5% Staff with DisabilitiesAverage Salary SeniorAverage Salary Mid-LevelAverage Salary Entry-Level
    California Poly State U35967YESYESN/RN/R$177,084$79,262$56,159
    Case Western Reserve University14131YESNON/RN/RN/RN/RN/R
    Colgate University11425YESNOYESYES$137,255$76,958$51,324
    Elon University1005YESYESN/RN/R$86,427$59,526$47,560
    Fontbonne University147YESYESYESN/R$75,000$52,000$37,000
    Holy Names University2014NONOYESNO$98,000$70,000$58,000
    Kent State University26552YESNON/RN/R$100,846$63,520$42,427
    Rider University393YESYESYESN/R$86,053$65,659$49,422
    Stockton University81215YESYESN/RN/R$105,000$85,000$60,000
    The U of North Carolina at Greensboro22938YESYESYESYES$80,000$60,000$45,000
    The University of Delaware1703YESNON/RNO$119,000$70,700$58,200
    The University of Maryland, College Park9941210YESYESN/RNO$173,979$95,991$49,943
    University of California, Riverside25040YESYESN/RN/R$120,202$76,496$46,296
    University of Maryland-Baltimore58133YESYESYESYES$100,363$75,452$61,090
    West Chester University of Pennsylvania14235YESNOYESNO$112,523$71,051$50,002
    William & Mary10551YESNOYESN/R$132,608$83,360$51,177


    InstitutionCargiving Leave For AllChildcare ServicesContinuing EdEd LeaveElder Care ServicesFlexible Work ScheduleAverage Salary Mid-LevelStress Reduction Program
    Case Western Reserve UniversityNONOYESYESNONOYESYES
    Fontbonne UniversityYESNONOYESNOYESNOYES
    Stockton UniversityYESNOYESNONONONOYES
    The U of North Carolina at GreensboroYESYESYESNONOYESNOYES
    The University of DelawareYESYESYESYESNOYESYESYES
    The University of Maryland, College ParkYESYESYESYESYESYESNOYES
    University of California, RiversideYESYESYESYESYESYESNOYES
    University of Maryland-BaltimoreYESYESYESNOYESYESYESYES
    West Chester University of PennsylvaniaYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES


    California Polytechnic State University

    California Polytechnic State University

    This is the fifth recognition in six years for California Polytechnic State University, one of two polytechnic institutions in the California State system. "At the core of our strategy is to invest in our team members so that they can show up as their best selves for our students," says Dr. Keith B. Humphrey, vice president for student affairs. "This means a strong professional development program, open lines of communication between staff and administration, and regular opportunities to celebrate our collective accomplishments. When we create communities that promote a sense of belonging, every student will be able to fully realize their academic and personal dreams."
    Case Western Reserve University

    Case Western Reserve University

    A private research institution in Cleveland, Ohion, Case Western Reserve University has roots stretching back almost 200 years. There are nearly 12,000 students and about half are undergraduates. "We see the entire student experience on our campus as part of their education and development - whether it’s participating in student organizations, competing on athletic and/or academic teams, or engaging with peer support and wellness programs," says Lou Stark, vice president for student affairs. "Diversity and inclusion are core values of the university, and we work hard to ensure that everything we do reflects that emphasis - from recruiting and onboarding staff to considering and launching programs to welcoming and supporting all voices. ... We are a large division with many individual units, and we take steps to reinforce the idea that we are a single team working together on behalf of students."
    Colgate University

    Colgate University

    Colgate University, private liberal arts school in Hamilton, New York, is again recognized. "By being intentional in the development of student learning outcomes, regular assessment of our work, encouraging professional development and creating an ethos of collaboration, student affairs professionals at Colgate can see the direct impact of their efforts and actively contribute to student success," says Dr. Paul J. McLoughlin II, vice president and dean of the college. "Every student affairs practitioner in the Dean of the College division at Colgate has the opportunity to participate in the direction of the division - whether on search committees, interviewing or onboarding new staff and by participating in cross-divisional working groups or committees."
    William & Mary

    William & Mary

    Founded in 1693, William & Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, counts among its alumni U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. "We have chosen a profession whose priority is to stengthen community and promote individual flourishing," says Dr. Virgina M. Ambler, vice president for student affairs. "That’s what we want for our students and it’s what we want for one another as colleagues. At William & Mary, I am profoundly grateful to work with people who share a commitment to creating an inclusive, affirming work experience in our division, one where all voices are valued and actively sought. For me, success is measured by meaningful work and authentic relationships, and those are built day by day, one interaction at a time."
    Elon University

    Elon University

    Elon University in North Carolina was recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 100 universities of 2021. "The past few years have been incredibily challenging for student affairs and higher education," says Dr. Jon Dooley, vice president for student life. "Colleagues at Elon have kept the conversation about our institutional mission and culture at the forefront of our efforts to make Elon a great place to work and we are constantly striving for improvement. The leadership of the university values and respects the contributions of student affairs educators, so even despite the challenges we face, we remain optimistic about the future."
    Fontbonne University

    Fontbonne University

    Fontbonne University is a private Catholic university in St. Louis, Missouri, that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. "We embrace openness, inclusiveness, and diversity as part of our mission," says Dr. Heather A. French, vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer. "Much of the credit goes to the individual team members who themselves are so committed, positive, and supportive of one another and our students. ... Making sure staff are taking time off when needed, finding ways to appreciate and compensate team members for going the extra mile and committing to their ongoing professional development is essential."
    Holy Names University

    Holy Names University

    Holy Names University is a private Catholic institution in Oakland, California, founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, with which it remains affiliated. “Our work is so intertwined that it becomes just as important to build quality relationships with each other as it is to build them with our students," says Dr. Nicole Whitner, dean of students/student affairs. "We genuinely enjoy collaborating with and supporting each other, and we enjoy finding new ways to keep each other energized around the work we do for our diverse campus community. One best practice within our student affairs is that our leadership team meets on a weekly basis to ensure that all of the smaller departments within the division remain in the loop on major events, changes, or projects that are happening."
    Kent State University

    Kent State University

    Named for the second consecutive year, Kent State University is a public research institution in Ohio with an enrollment over 35,000. "Student affairs work is enriching, challenging, and rewarding," says Dr. Lamar R. Hylton, senior vice president for student affairs. "We pride ourselves on centering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in our workforce practices. This recognition symbolizes this commitment, and we are grateful to ACPA and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education for honoring us."
    Rider University

    Rider University

    Rider University is a private institution in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, consisting of four academic units: Norm Brodsky College of Business, College of LIberal Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Human Services, and Westminster College of the Arts. "I am extremely proud of the Rider University student affairs team, who, even when faced with significant pressures, lead with optimism, work ethic, creativity and unmatched commitment to students, especially those with marginalized identities," says Dr. Leanna Fenneberg, vice president for student affairs. "The centering of social justice topics has included taking opportunities during campus and national tragedy to listen to and share with one another and collaborate to support our campus community."
    Stockton University

    Stockton University

    This academic year marks 50 years of teaching at Stockton University, which is part of New Jersey’s public higher education system. "The division of student affairs can trace its origins and development to serving students in Stockton’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program," said Dr. Christopher C. Catching, vice president for student affairs. EOF is a New Jersey program for first-generation and low-income students. Catching credits his department’s success to aligning the division’s strategies, resources, and talent toward closing equity gaps in access and student success. "Create an organizational sructure and environment that provides opportunities for your team to have exposure to learning opportunities beyond their immediate area of expertise or discipline. Encourage your team to share their expertise with their colleagues."
    The University of California, Riverside

    The University of California, Riverside

    The University of California, Riverside is one of 10 campuses in the University of California system. "We believe in the power of collaborative campus partnerships and open dialogue," says Dr. Brian Haynes, vice chancellor for student affairs. "[We] engage, listen, and invite both individual and collective feedback from every member of the team. It is important to have every voice at the table in terms of developing strategic plans and creative programs that will ultimately serve our students for the better."
    The University of Delaware

    The University of Delaware

    The University of Delaware, a research institution, offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. It is the largest university in the state. "Sustaining a consistently positive and vibrant atmosphere in student affairs - particularly during our current times - is a challenge," says Dr. José-Luis Riera, vice president for student life. "We strive to acknowledge the hardships and difficulties that frame our work, including the pandemic and the challenges to racial equity in our country today. ... The student experience, we believe, will continue to be a differentiator for college-going students in the coming decade. We work to stay fresh and invite new ways of conceiving of student affairs on campus."
    University of Maryland, Baltimore

    University of Maryland, Baltimore

    The University of Maryland, Baltimore primarily serves graduate students with professional schools of dentistry, law, medicine, pharmacy, social work and nursing. “We remain committed to creating a positive and inclusive environment in student affairs," says Dr. Patty Alvarez, assistant vice president of student affairs. "We need to consistently respect, appreciate and recognize staff on a daily basis through formal and informal means. It is important to provide flexibility to staff in addition to equitable compensation and professional development opportunities. As we continue to face multiple pandemics, these goals may not be easily accomplished, but must remain prioritites."
    University of Maryland, College Park

    University of Maryland, College Park

    The University of Maryland, College Park, is the flagship institution in the University System of Maryland, serving more than 30,000 undergraduates and 10,000 graduate students. “We keep students at the center of our work because we believe that they are partners and co-creators," says Dr. Patty Perillo, vice president for student affairs. "We know that by putting people in positions that play to their strengths, and helping students come to know and own theirs, we create the conditions for our community members to thrive. When people are flourishing, vibrancy and positivity are sojourners."
    University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    A public research university, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, like all institutions in the UNC system, is a stand-alone university. It offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. “Over the past year, we lived our mission and values as we navigated the pandemic and focused on not only providing students with access to their education, but also the core and support to be successful during these challenging times," says Dr. Cathy Akens, vice chancellor for student affairs. "Our student affairs team has been on the frontlines of the crisis, and we could not be more grateful for their dedication and compassion. It has not been easy for anyone, but it is rewarding to see a team that supports one another and stays focused on our collective goals."
    West Chester University of Pennsylvania

    West Chester University of Pennsylvania

    West Chester University of Pennsylvania is a public institution that counts among its outstanding alumni the first lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden. “These past two years have been extremely challenging for all of us in higher education, and student affairs professionals across the country have certainly not been exempt from the stress resulting from this pandemic," says Dr. Zebulun R. Davenport, vice president for student affairs. "Many of us have pivoted from in-person learning to remote learning and back again. Maintaining connectivity and building community in a virtual environment can be challenging, so my hat goes off to all who have managed this situation. ... Congratulations to all of my student affairs colleagues for a job well done this past year regardless of whether you are receiving an award or not. Remember, your contributions are making a difference in the lives of many."