By Ruffins, Paul
Diverse Issues in Higher Education , Vol. 27, No. 24
Philadelphia may play host to a dramatic showdown over the merger of America's two largest student affairs organizations. The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) have such overlapping interests (and a 30 percent shared membership) that every 10 years they hold a joint conference. At the last such meeting, in 2007, the two groups formed the Task Force on the Future of Student Affairs to explore merging their nearly 20,000 members. In 2009, both boards accepted the committee's suggestion to dissolve the organizations and start a new association.
Dr. Leila Moore, vice president of the ACPA Foundation Board of Trustees, lists the practical advantages, including members not having to pay travel and lodging costs to attend two different conventions and not being forced to choose one organization over the other.
"But," Moore says, "the most important reason is that the field of student affairs is changing so fast and faces so many outside challenges that it is dear that the entire profession would benefit from speaking with one unified voice."
NASPA began the process of bringing the merger to a vote in 2009 after accepting the committee's suggestion. The board approved a plan to send the motion to the membership in July 2010, paving the way for a vote in the fall of that year. A survey of 325 delegates in early 2010 revealed that 72.9 percent supported the merger, with only 13.54 percent opposed and 13.54 percent undecided.
However, in a surprise move in February 2010, a group that included six NASPA past presidents successfully introduced a resolution opposing the merger and asking that the board not allow the membership to vote until after NASPA's March 2011 conference in Philadelphia, essentially pushing the vote back a year. The resolution complained that the board did not give members enough time or information to study the proposal and that NASPA should hire its own independent legal counsel to evaluate the organizational and financial details. …