It’s a cliché but it’s crazy how fast a year goes by. 12 months ago we were at Ryerson enjoying CACUSS 2011. Since then a lot has happened and the Supporting Student Success research team has been very busy. We published our report, Supporting Student Success: The Role of Student Services within Ontario’s Postsecondary Institutions, for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. We have returned to our partner institutions to collect more data from nearly 350 people including faculty, students, senior administrators as well as student affairs and services staff. And we have presented some of our findings at conferences in the U.S. like the Association for Studies in Higher Education (ASHE) and the American College Personnel Administrators (ACPA).
This year we are very happy to have a chance to come back to CACUSS with a new presentation, one looking at how senior leaders (which we consider directors, managers and senior student affairs and services officers), support staff collaboration within their units, across the division and with faculty.
Our highly interactive and hands-on presentation will highlight the critical role senior leaders play in communicating divisional goals and objectives to staff as well as encouraging their staff to collaborate within and across the division. We will discuss various communication strategies as well as collaborations that have led to improved student services and innovative programs. Participants will engage in an active process to identify formal and informal organizational structures as well as leadership and communication practices that support and hinder their staff’s ability to support student success.
A few days ago CACUSS released the “REFLECTIONS ON THE CACUSS IDENTITY PROJECT: What we’ve learned since “Leaders in Learning.” It provides an update on the conversations and thinking that have taken place since the Identity project was released last year. Reading through this update, I see our presentation fitting into at least two of the major issues discusses in that paper.
1. Research and Assessment
The data and findings in this presentation come from our interviews and focus groups with about 300 student affairs and services staff from across Ontario. We are reflecting back what your voices told us. It’s well known that there is minimal literature about practice of student affairs and services in Canada, and we think we are helping to address that gap.
2. The Needs of Senior Student Affairs Officers and Leadership Teams
The reflection piece also highlighted a concern of declining participation among SSAOs at CACUSS, and that they had “more interest in strategic dialogues and sharing of insights among peers.” Though not exclusively for SSAOs, we think this presentation speaks to that concern and specifically to that audience. It will be a chance for leaders to engage in conversations about their experiences (positive and negative) with colleagues from around the country from both the colleges and university sectors.
This presentation is intended for senior leaders and staff who want to engage in a dialogue about effective communication strategies that facilitate collaborations and communication across divisions and units to improve student services.
There are many, many excellent sessions planned for CACUSS, we hope to see many of you at ours, Monday morning at 10:00 am in WH209, right after the Michael Wesch Keynote session.