"The Future of Student Affairs" was a strategic-action process designed to create a roadmap for how we maximize our talents and resources to support, serve and educate students and promote a culture of lifelong learning throughout the division.
The process, which occurred in Academic Year 2016-17, was initiated just as the university's leadership began planning for transitions to a new president and provost. Over the past year two years, our division has experienced significant transitions of its own. In Fall of 2017, Student Affairs welcomed a new leader, Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole. Building on "The Future of Student Affairs" work, we have identified our priorities for the coming years in "Our Most Important Work."
Work on the Student Affairs strategic vision was informed by a number of university-wide initiatives, including Stanford’s staff survey and the Administrative Planning Executive Committee (APEx). Planning work included background briefings completed in advance of the arrival of President Marc Tessier-Lavigne addressing key student issues of diversity and inclusion, activism, trust and communication, and mental health and well-being. These issues not only have an impact on the work of the university in general and Stanford’s Student Affairs professionals in particular, they also permeate the national and international discourse in higher education.
Student Affairs also engaged in a space-utilization study, to inform planning for future student meeting, gathering and social locations. The future phases of strategic work were envisioned to focus on fundraising and development strategies and enhanced collaboration with faculty colleagues.
Beginning in the fall term of 2015, the executive leadership in Student Affairs (composed of the Vice Provost, Associate Vice Provosts and Associate Dean of Residential Education Jenn Calvert who facilitated the process) identified and sequenced eight major priorities to be addressed in the Future of Student Affairs (FOSA) initiative:
The planning process began as the university was preparing for transition at the President and Provostial level, and as the Executive Team in Student Affairs was experiencing a 50 percent turnover in leadership. The team stressed that the planning process would require a transparent, inclusive and division-wide approach. The group developed a timeline and began to communicate with the Student Affairs staff about the strategic-action process.
Year One focused on the foundation of the strategic-action process – developing a new mission/vision statement and communicating broadly throughout the division. Leadership and Working Groups were formed and began their work together.
Our updated Mission Statement was created as a result of this division-wide work, with the help of the Executive Team and the newly-created Leadership Cabinet.
In order to build and develop the divisional leadership capacities identified by the executive team, the division created a Student Affairs Leadership Cabinet. This group was designed to become a team capable of overseeing the day to day work of the division, facilitating the development of divisional policy and addressing major project work that is cross-divisional. The group played a significant role in crafting the mission of the division, is underway with crafting a flexible work policy, and helps to lead the divisional working groups below. The Cabinet met on a regular basis and convened sub-groups to work on particular areas of focus and interest. To ensure that the Leadership Cabinet had access to relevant resources and opportunities including coaching, courses and site visits to peer institutions, the division created a professional development program for Cabinet members, tailored to their needs as emerging divisional leaders.
The division also, in this period, developed four working groups drawn from the staff of Student Affairs, to focus on the four strategic priorities of Communications, Staff Experience, Optimizing Resources and Collective Student Response. The goal of these groups was to bring broad and representative staff participation to the issues of highest priority to Student Affairs. The groups completed their work in summer 2017.
The Future of Student Affairs effort piloted, communicated about and implemented a number of achievements developed by the Leadership Cabinet and Working Groups throughout the summer of 2017.
These achievements included:
Additional projects were inspired by the work above and were undertaken by the Student Affairs Central Administration.
As the first phase achievements became clear, the Executive Team began work on the next two priority areas of the Future of Student Affairs work – engaging faculty and exploring development opportunities. The division engaged these issue areas in the context of another transition – the arrival of Susie Brubaker-Cole as the new Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The test of any strong plan is its ability to pivot, and the first product of this continued engagement was the articulation of "Our Most Important Work."