Author Archives: Joe Sabado

Some Random Thoughts About “Student Affairs Platform”

I was reading Eric Stoller’s post about Connecting Technology Buckets in Student Affairs and it reminded me of some random thoughts I had a couple of months ago about what  a “student affairs platform” would look like. I use an iOS mindmapping mobile app called iThoughts to document my ideas and below is a pdf with my random/not-so-complete thoughts on what would be included in such a comprehensive/integrated platform. I would love to read your thoughts on this topic.

Student Affairs Platform

Student Affairs Platform

Self-Nomination for UCSB VCSA Search Committee

Our current Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. MIchael Young announced his retirement a couple of months ago and a search committee, consisting of faculty, staff, students, and alums, was formed. There was one spot available for staff, to be chosen by the Chancellor, through a recommendation by a staff committee. I submitted by nomination but, unfortunately, I was not selected. I’m confident however that committee will choose the best person for the position. I’ve chosen to post my self-nomination on my blog to share what I think are the issues facing student affairs at UCSB (and general) that the new VC will need to address.


September 17, 2014
Re: Call for Nominations – Search Committee for the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
To Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Council:

My name is Joe Sabado, Director for Student Information Systems and Software Development Services in Student Information Systems & Technology (SIS&T). SIS&T is the central computing department within the Division of Student Affairs providing technology services to both Graduate Division and the Division of Student Affairs. In my role, I oversee 34 staff and 10 student employees/interns organized as teams dedicated to serving the specific technology needs of the departments and their customers. These units include: Financial Aid Information Systems (IS), Admissions IS, Graduate Division IS, Registrar IS, Student Services IS, Counseling & Psychological Services/Student Health Service IS, and Marketing & Communication.

I am interested in serving on the search committee because of my personal and professional interests as a student affairs staff and a student advocate. I firmly believe in the mission of student affairs to promote holistic student development and learning to complement the classroom education. My campus involvement listed below demonstrates my dedication to serving the needs of our students and the campus community. It also shows commitment to learning and understanding the perspectives and issues of those I work with, including students, staff, and faculty. I would like very much to have an input and contribute to discussions throughout the search process to select the best candidate for the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs position, working with the other
members of the search committee.

Vice Chancellor Michael Young has built a strong culture the past 25 years, a culture committed to the well-being of our students, commitment to staff growth through professional development, and campus partnerships. I look forward to the next chapter and welcoming a new Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

I believe the next VC for Student Affairs will need to have the skills, knowledge, and experience to provide strong management and leadership to address the following issues and topics that impact our students, the Division of Student Affairs and the UCSB community.

  • Access to higher education, affordability, and financial aid
  • Mental health and physical wellness
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Student engagement
  • Technology
  • High touch/high-tech concept as technology is increasingly used to complement/replace methods
    of student services delivery (e.g. virtual advising, online trainings, video interviews)
  • Recruitment, retention and persistence particularly with underrepresented groups
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Town and Gown (Isla Vista)
  • Budget and decreased state funding for public education / alternative sources for revenue
  • Professional development and succession planning
  • Assessment
  • Partnership and integration of student services and information systems with academic affairs and administrative services
  • Accommodation and resources for “non-traditional” students (beyond 18-24 years old) and populations including first-year generation, low socio-economic and underrepresented groups, international students, Veterans, Dreamers, foster youth and students with disabilities
  • Research and scholarship about student development and learning in the digital age

While my formal title is IT Director, I consider myself a student affairs professional first and foremost. I have used technology and participated in many programs, committees and projects within student affairs and across campus to contribute to the goals of student affairs. Through my current divisional IT leadership role and my experience working in the Division of Student Affairs and at Housing and Residential Services since 1996, as well as a student leader at UCSB prior to that, I have gained perspectives on issues and trends impacting our students, student affairs, and the campus. In addition to my IT duties, my current and previous activities within the division and on campus include:

  • Admissions applications reader
  • First Year Experience (Freshmen, Transfer) discussion leader
  • EOP STEP Facilitator
  • Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) staff representative
  • Staff advisor to multiple student organizations
  • Veterans Resource Team member
  • Judicial Process Advocate
  • Graduate Student Support Network (GSSN) member
  • Gaucho U participant, mentor, Steering Committee member
  • Foundations: New Student Affairs Professional Development Committee member
  • Student Affairs Management Development Group (MDG) graduate
  • NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program (NUFP) mentor
  • UCSB Social Networking Policy chair
  • UCSB Web Standards Guide co-chair
  • UCSB Student Email Governance Committee chair
  • Campus speaker on professional development, building digital reputation, social networking, and mobile web development

I also try to keep current with contemporary higher education and student affairs trends and issues through my membership with National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and collaborations with other student affairs professionals from other higher education institutions. I continuously study higher education topics including organization and governance, management and leadership, technology, contemporary issues, trends, philosophies, and history. This page includes my higher education/student affairs reading list.

My interest in student affairs issues and trends and contributions to the discussions through my student affairs and technology focused blog ( led to an invitation by NASPA President, Dr. Kevin Kruger, to participate in a national student affairs technology summit. Along with 12 student affairs professionals and administrators, we discussed the future of student affairs in Washington, DC last February. A document intended to provide a foundation for discussions about the future of student affairs and its implications to the profession is in final revision and will be available in the near future.

For more information about my current job responsibilities as SIS&T Director and UCSB professional
experience, please see my Linkedin profile at
I hope I have demonstrated my strong interest to serve on the search committee and what I can contribute to the process. I look forward to hearing about your decision.

Joe Sabado

Student Affairs and Innovators DNA

I have been reading a book called The Innovators DNA and I find myself thinking how the concepts related to innovation described in this book apply to student affairs. The premise of the book centers around the idea that innovative organizations are led by innovative leaders. The book talks about delivery (questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting) and discovery skills (analyzing, planning, detail-oriented implementing, and disciplined executing) used by leaders to find new ideas and convert them to tangible solutions and products. While these discovery skills may be through through genetics, they can also be learned by understanding and practicing them.  Innovative leaders, they found possess more discovery skills while other leaders (professional managers) have more delivery skills. Dyer, Gregersen, & Christensen (2011), when they interviewed high level executives found:

“In contrast to innovators who seek to fundamentally change existing business models, products, or processes, most senior executives work hard to efficiently deliver the next thing that should be done given the existing business model. That is, they work inside the box. They shine at converting a vision or goal into the specific tasks to achieve the defined goal. They organize work and conscientiously execute logical detailed,data-driven plans of action.” (p. 31)

This another passage also notes the difference between innovators and managers.

“The key point is here is that large companies typically fail at disruptive innovation because the top management team is dominated by individuals who have been selected for delivery skills, not discovery skills. As a result, most executives at large organizations don’t know how to think differently. It isn’t something that they learn within their company, and it certainly isn’t something that are taught in business school. Business schools teach people how to be deliverers, not discoverers.” (p. 36)

 In contrast to the professional managers as described above,  Dyer, et al. (2011) note that disruptive innovators are motivated by these two common themes, “First, they actively desire to change the status quo. Second, they regularly take smart risks to make that change happen.” (p. 24) In addition,  innovative leaders, like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) look to hire those with similar attributes they possess. They build their companies by hiring innovative people, establish processes that promote innovation (experimentation), and  have guiding philosophies that support a culture which encourages employees to try new ideas.These philosophies include 1) innovation is everyone’s job, 2) disruptive innovation is part of our innovation portfolio, 3) deploy lots of small, properly organized innovation project teams, and 4) take smart risks in the pursuit of innovation.According to the book, these four guiding philosophies reflect the courage-to-innovate attitudes of innovative leaders.

While Dyer, et al. (2011) focus on disruptive innovators/companies and discovery skills, they do see the value of companies having teams that include members who have delivery skills. Ideally, these teams should consist of members who have complementary discovery and delivery skills as well as those with business, technical, and “human factors” (behavioral sciences) expertise. Collectively, they should be able to view problems from multiple perspectives.

Reading this book with the themes described above lead me to the following questions:

- Are student affairs graduate programs designed to prepare future professionals to be “deliverers” and not “discoverers”?

- Is student affairs  designed to work within established boundaries (mandates, legal requirements, guidelines, etc) and within “inside the box”? What are the incentives/punishments for going “outside the box”?

- Are SSAOs more focused on delivery instead of discovery and do they hire the same people with the same philosophies?

- Are the guiding philosophies in student affairs like/unlike the philosophies mentioned above when it comes to innovation?

- Are student affairs professionals generally more “deliverers” than “discoverers”?

What is your take on this topic? Do you agree with the premise of the book?


Christensen, Clayton M.; Jeff Dyer; Hal Gregersen (2011-07-12). The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators. Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

Blessed and Privileged Beyond Belief

There was once a time when I was a young kid in the Philippines when my family, four of us, lived in a one bedroom, probably no bigger than  a size of a typical dorm room. I remember my sister and I having to wake up early and take a bath outside, early enough, before our neighbors even wake up. But through it all, I never felt poor. I never felt as if I was deprived of anything in my life. We’ve always been a close-knit family and I think for me that’s what mattered the most. We didn’t have much money yet somehow my parents were able to give us things we needed. When my sister and I had to buy school uniforms, when I had to get a new boy scout uniform, they always seem to find ways. My dad, he’s very resourceful and a very hard worker. As far as I can remember, he always found ways to get side jobs. Oftentimes, he held more than one. When we moved to the United States in 1984, my parents immediately took jobs available to them at the local mall in Salinas. Throughout high school, my dad always worked two almost full-time jobs and still found the time to have his own janitorial service and mowed lawns during his time off. They never asked for anything from my sister and I. To this day, they have not asked for anything in return for what they have given us.

It’s times like this, three o’clock in the morning, when I get the time to reflect about my life that I realize how blessed I am. How privileged I am beyond belief. It’s all because of my parents’ sacrifices. Who would have thought I would have the career I have had to this point. I’m happily married to a wonderful partner. We’re enjoying life.

I’ve had challenges in life,feeling like an outcast at times, feeling like I’m not smart enough, like  I don’t belong but frankly, those challenges don’t matter as much anymore. I suppose, I can look back at them and in the bigger scheme of things, they’re trivial. I look at opportunities ahead of me and I’m just excited. Changes are happening and life is good. Life is good. I feel blessed. I feel privileged beyond belief.



This or that – Life is too short.

Life is short. So cliche, but so true. A friend and colleague passed away just the other day and it’s during these times I am reminded of how valuable my time really is and where I should focus my time and energy. Some of the thoughts that came to mind:

  • I can spend my time worrying about what I can’t control or put my efforts and enjoy towards those areas  I do have control.
  • I can be depressed about things I don’t have or be grateful for the things I do have.
  • I can think about how life is so unfair because I wasn’t given opportunities or just suck it up and move on.
  • I can spend time criticizing others for their shortcomings or reflect on mine and work on improving them.
  • I can spend my time getting frustrated about what happened in the past, which I can’t change, or focus my attention towards the present and the future.
  • I can get mean people get to me or just ignore them.
  • I can keep on talking about things I’d like to do or go ahead and do them.
  • I can ask keep on asking for permissions or just ask for forgiveness later.
  •  I can keep on making excuses or just do something about it.

Life really is short. Life has been good. I just need to remember how good life really is.