Work on the Student Affairs strategic vision has been 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 is engaged in a space-utilization study, which will inform planning for future student meeting, gathering and social locations. The next phase of strategic work will 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 meets on a regular basis and has convened sub-groups to work on particular areas of focus and interest. To ensure that the Leadership Cabinet has 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 has been to bring broad and representative staff participation to the issues of highest priority to Student Affairs. The groups were provided charges developed by the Executive team, with a target completion date of summer 2017.
The Future of Student Affairs effort will be piloting, communicating and implementing a number of achievements developed by the Leadership Cabinet and Working Groups throughout the summer of 2017. More information will be available on these initiatives in the coming months. They include:
Additional projects have been inspired by the work above and are being undertaken by the Student Affairs Central Administration. The division will be updated about these projects in summer/fall 2017 as well.
As the first phase achievements are becoming clear, the Executive Team will being work on the next two priority areas of the Future of Student Affairs work – engaging faculty and exploring development opportunities. The division will engage these issue areas in the context of another transition – the retirement of Vice Provost Greg Boardman. The test of any strong plan is its ability to pivot, and so the Future of Student Affairs plan is preparing for this reality. Fall 2017 will be a time of continued engagement in the plan, in preparation for a new Vice Provost of Student Affairs.