History of CSAA
The history of the College Student Affairs Administration (formerly College Student Personnel Services) Program begins in the late spring of 2001. During a Student Affairs Division planning retreat (under the leadership of then Vice President Linda Dye) a number of strategic priorities were identified. The number one priority was the creation of a graduate preparation program in student affairs and student services administration. The motivation was two-fold. First, department directors were seeking opportunities to expand graduate assistantship opportunities and in particular hoped to attract young pre-professionals who were seeking to make a career in Student Affairs work. Second, there was a sense that such a program, managed collaborative between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, would “give back” to the profession by introducing vibrant, young staff to the field.
Infancy: The Specialization Track
Working with the administration of the College of Professional Studies, an Educational Leadership Specialization Track for College Student Personnel Services was approved for fall term of 2003. At that time there were no resources for a free standing program and there was a limited supply of Student Affairs staff with the appropriate credentials to teach in a graduate program. As a specialization track within an existing program there would only be a limited number of new “major” courses required to get the process started. The first degree plan featured 12 hours in “professional core” (common curriculum for the base Educational Leadership major) and 24 hours in the “specialization core” (which included 12 hours of existing common courses and 12 hours of new specialization courses). The new specialization courses were:
Recruiting for the first group of students began in earnest during spring 2003. Calls went out to colleagues and alumni to recommend perspective students and information was provided to current UWF students interested in careers in Student Affairs. The expectation had been to attract 10 students to the first cohort. By the first day of class in fall 2003 we had 13 students enrolled including 6 UWF graduates, 2 full-time staff seeking professional advancement, and 5 students from other institutions. The eleven regular students were successfully placed in graduate assistantship in Housing (5), the University Commons (4), Orientation (1), and Recreation (1). The program was off and running!
Adolescence: Becoming a Free-standing Program
During the time leading up to final approval existing courses were refined and two additional courses were developed. The new, stand alone program featured 24 hours of required courses (6 were common core courses and 18 were major courses). The major courses were:
Young Adult: First Program Review
All academic programs at UWF are subject a cyclical (every 7 years) program review process. The program review clock started on the CSPA program once it achieved independent program status. Academic program review requires both internal (one faculty member from within the home college and one from a different college) and external reviewers. The program review team was:
The program review team Final Report provided important guidance for the future of the program especially as related to curriculum. Based on these recommendations the program leadership and faculty initiated a number of course revisions and program modifications. The most significant program modification, arguably, was the transition from a 36 hour program (typical of UWF master’s programs) to a 42 hour program (more typical of national exemplar programs). The new degree plan includes 36 hours of required credits (6 of which are internship hours) and 6 hours of advisor approved electives.
The Program Review also recommended the program name change from the historical, but increasingly dated, “College Student Personnel Services” to the more contemporary “College Student Affairs Administration.”
Finally, all the CSAA functions (admissions, advising, recruiting, etc.) were centralized in Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs with the Office Administrator providing the main administrative support for the program and serving as liaison to the Graduate School and the Department of Research and Advanced Studies.
Looking Ahead: What Comes Next
The future continues to look bright for the CSAA program. Eighteen full-time graduate students, all placed in graduate assistantships throughout the division, enrolled as the 2013 Cohort and began classes in August, 2013. These first year students join the seventeen 2012 Cohort (second year students) to bring the full program roster to 35 students. The number and quality of graduate assistantship experiences in the division has steadily increased from our humble beginnings.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect for the future is the planned addition of a full-time faculty member to support CSAA and work with a planned new EdD program in higher education. While our current faculty of practitioner-scholars will continue to serve instructional roles the addition of a full-time faculty member will greatly enhance the connection of CSAA to the academic college.
A more immediate change on the horizon for the 2014 cohort (those students who will enter in fall 2014) is the addition of comprehensive exams. Comprehensive exams will provide a broad based final assessment of each student's progress and learning over the course of the program.
Extended Family: Program Leadership and Faculty
Over the past 10 years active practitioners with appropriate credentials have served in leadership and teaching roles with the program. Additionally, other members of the divisional staff have devoted time and energy to working with co-curricular aspects of the program.
Beginning in Fall 2010 a committee of CSAA faculty, supervisors and students formed a committee to assist the department with planning events such as orientation, interview weekend and the end of the year banquet. These events are common in longer-standing graduate preparation programs and put CSAA in the same stead. The committee chairs and members over the years are listed below: