If technology is an essential component of today’s student affairs organizations, how is it that out of the 21 Chief Student Affairs Officers (CSAO) and Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) positions posted on higheredjob.com I reviewed today (11/29/2015), only 1 job posting has the word “technology” in the areas of responsibilities and qualifications?
I reviewed the job postings because of my curiosity on how technology is perceived by student affairs organizations today. I think about student affairs and technology daily because of my role as an executive director for a student affairs IT organization. My curiosity is further driven as I think about my recommendations for a recent external program review of a student affairs and academic affairs IT department and as I think about how the recent inclusion of technology as a professional competency as part of the Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators by ACPA and NASPA could shape the future of technology in student affairs. In addition, I’ve been thinking about how to develop a framework for student affairs organizations to adopt, implement, assess and evaluate technology.
Technology in student affairs can be viewed from many perspectives. For one, technology should be treated as a set of investment that can enable organizations to be more efficient, more effective, and can transform how they do business. As an investment, technology also needs to be managed holistically from an enterprise level, and not as disconnected and silo-ed systems.From this perspective, technology management and leadership requires senior student managers to be thinking about sustainable funding, governance structures and processes, and staffing. Technology as a set of resource to be managed is an idea I discussed in the article “CSAO as Information Technology Manager“.
Another view of technology in student affairs is the effective adoption and utilization by student professionals towards their duties as educators who responsible for student learning, engagement, development, and career success. The description of the technology competency is the following:
“The Technology competency area focuses on the use of digital tools, resources, and technologies for the advancement of student learning, development, and success as well as the improved performance of student affairs professionals. Included within this area are knowledge, skills, and dispositions that lead to the generation of digital literacy and digital citizenship within communities of students, student affairs professionals, faculty members, and colleges and universities.” (Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs, 2015, p. 33)
The description above as well as the outcomes stated for the technology competency area acknowledges the essential role technology plays in student affairs.
In addition, I was reading a book recently called Designing for Learning: Creating Campus Environments for Student Success which also highlights the impact of technology to student communities. One of the chapters discusses “digital forms of human environments as they apply to the post secondary educational setting and focuses on the design and potential of these new technologies to effect the inclusion, security, engagement, and experience of community among students.” (Strange & Banning, 2015, p. xii)
Given the significance of technology in student affairs based on what I shared above, it is then puzzling to me as to why all of the job postings for senior student affairs officers positions I reviewed today, except for one, had no mention of technology as part of the responsibility and/or requirements.
I do think technology leadership needs to be present at the highest level of student affairs organizations. At the minimum, CSAOs cannot abdicate their roles as information technology managers and they must either develop the skills, knowledge, and dispositions as described in the new technology competency area and/or include a position that can provide leadership to lead the effective adoption, utilization, and assessment/evaluation of technology in student affairs. Here are two ideas to consider:
- Case for Technology Leadership at the SSAO Table
- Dean of Student Affairs Technology – A Proposed Role
What roles and responsibilities should CSAOs/SSAOs have with respect to technology?
Note on the cursory review process of the job postings:
I did a search on higheredjobs.com using “Vice President Student Affairs” and the results returned 606 records but I reviewed the job postings that contained what could be considered SSAO and CSAO positions (Vice President, Associate Vice President). Some of the postings provided a link to the institutions’ job boards but I limited my review on the description/requirements as posted on the higheredjobs.com website itself.