Academic journal article College and University

STEERING IN THE SAME DIRECTION: THE TEMPORARY OF ACADEMIC and STUDENT AFFAIRS RELATIONSHIPS to Student Success

Academic journal article College and University

STEERING IN THE SAME DIRECTION: THE TEMPORARY OF ACADEMIC and STUDENT AFFAIRS RELATIONSHIPS to Student Success

Article excerpt

Higher education's accountability movement has brought pressure to colleges and universities to do all that they can to impact student access and success. Strategic collaboration among academic and student affairs leaders has become vital in this effort. While most institutions can benefit from strategic collaboration, community colleges in particular are vulnerable when the leaders of its two primary functional areas do not set out in the same direction, since community colleges are much more influenced by market forces than public and private four-year institutions.

The first part of this article reviews the historical reasons why collaboration has been largely unnecessary. The link between collaboration and differentiation is then explored, as well as the necessity of using differentiation to position an institution in the educational marketplace. Finally, a case study from Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington is reviewed to demonstrate how strategic collaboration between academic and student affairs can be used to develop and implement programs that add value and benefit students.

Calls for cooperation and collaboration between the faculty and student affairs are as old as the introduction of student services personnel to the field of higher education. The academy has tended to view those who make their primary mission to recruit and retain students as ancillary to the learning process. Terms such as "paper pushers," "bureaucrats," and "salespeople" have been the kindest of those employed by some who view their disciplines as intellectual kingdoms. Likewise, student affairs professionals have developed a dim view of the role of faculty, perceiving some to be uncooperative with any portion of the education mission occurring outside the classroom. Invectives such as "narrow-minded," "aloof" and "arrogant" are just a few that one might hear if he were to stumble upon a conversation in many a student affairs' hallway.

In the education environment of old, where modest accountability and artificial competition among institutions for future students ruled the day, collaboration between academic and student affairs was a nice sentiment but was not considered crucial to an institution's effectiveness. Higher education institutions could operate in much the same way as they always had, relying either on reputation or economic forces for sustained enrollment. More recendy, however, as the era of accountability has dawned and as competition for students has increased, it has become necessary for colleges and universities to do all that they can to ensure better access and outcomes to satisfy stakeholders and attract new students. The importance of academic and student affairs collaboration and the results of such efforts are now essential if an institution is to differentiate itself in the education marketplace.

HOW DID WE GET HERE

American higher education finds itself in a changing environment, where many of their public and political stakeholders are demanding increased accountability. The workings of the noth Congress in early 2008 demonstrate that legislators are facing the necessity of compromises regarding cost and accreditation policy recommendations emanating from the Spellings Commission. Members of Congress find themselves dealing with a multitude of accountability issues as they consider the Higher Education Act, and recent literature is replete with beliefs that colleges must be improved in striking ways to enhance students' educational experience (Field 2008; United States Department of Education). Since 1984 no fewer than eight studies have been commissioned to scrutinize increasing dissatisfaction with the quality of higher education, student outcomes, and the overall efficacy of the undergraduate experience.

The higher education metrics of the 1970s demonstrated that more people than ever before were gaining access to college and that the number of colleges and universities was increasing: an all-time high of 8. …

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