DB: In taking that one step further, when you do have that
acumen, it can make others nervous. We must expand our
expertise in areas that have not traditionally been a focus of
MJ: That is a very good point. We, in student affairs, have
always had to develop allies. Sometimes we are considered
too powerful if we know too much or appear to know too
much. I often find myself working through others to advocate for issues that are really important to students. Many
times I work with and through folks on the provost’s staff
to get things done. Student affairs’ effectiveness may be tied
to what kind of relationships we have with faculty leaders in
charge of undergraduate and graduate student education.
For example, if I am trying to get a fee increase approved
for graduate student programs outside the classroom, I have
to work closely with the vice provost for graduate programs
to get that done even though the activities are in the bailiwick
of student affairs. We must have trusting and good partnerships with other colleagues so they can be comfortable with
and advocate for the positions that we hold. We should also be
willing to do the same for them.
DB: Those relationships have to be developed before the situation demands it. We must constantly be strengthening our
relationships because there is very little that student affairs
does not touch.
BS: There is a strong component of making sure your president and your peers not only want to partner with you by
being good colleagues, but see you as someone able to follow
through on the commitments you make. In my instance, it
was very important when I came into this complex role that
the president perceive me in that way. He basically said, ‘I
respect and trust your opinion as it relates to student life, and
I don’t want you to allow the bean counters to prevent you
from doing what needs to be done. You are going to have to
build other relationships with other leaders on campus who
will support your initiatives because the accountants may tell
you things are not going to work.’
I find our true administrative folks on the business side may
not value the things we do. For instance, we have multiplied
fivefold the number of students who come to our Student
Union and the number of programs we offer. The administrative people simply don’t measure success using those metrics.
I have to be a responsible financial person, but I also have to
articulate the importance of certain programs and services
even if we can’t make them work financially.
LM: Earning and maintaining a ‘place at the table’ is dependent predominantly on expertise and perspective. Though our
primary role is to advocate on behalf of our students, we can’t
do so narrowly or without a comprehensive understanding of
institutional challenges and opportunities. Student affairs staff
must be literate in the broad issues that affect institutional
funding, policies, and directions. That means being aware of
the consequences of endowment gains and losses and/or state
and federal funding allocations; research indirect cost recovery
implications; bond ratings and debt capacity; globalization
trends and institutional objectives; technology transfer opportunities; and creative approaches to sustainability. If we confine
our competencies to the latest student development theories
and practices, we will reinforce our status as student friendly–
an admirable and necessary quality–but far too limited in our
expertise to be of value to our colleagues at the table.
Q: What is your role in fundraising?
MJ: I am now also a development officer. I am currently
spending 30 to 40 percent of my time on fundraising to raise
$70 million toward the completion of a new 200,000-square-
foot, $136 million campus center. We have raised $46 million and must raise the remainder by fall 2010. We want to
leave our successors with a well-funded facility and programs:
an endowment to nurture and support all student affairs
programs. Our budgets have been flat for years, so we need
to redirect current resources when we can and raise external
funds to do more things when it is feasible.
LM: We have a full-time development officer who was hired
about five years ago. I spend under 10 percent of my time
fundraising. Our fee structure gives us independence from
tuition dollars. Large institutions will weather an uncertain
economy like this one far more readily. For the mid-size,
tuition-dependent institution, a downturn is a considerably
more substantial challenge. Make sure your strategic plan
aligns with development targets. It can serve as a guide to keep
people on course.
BS: I am at the center of our new capital campaign in raising
money for both a new student center and a scholarship campaign. Fortunately, these are both at the top of the president’s
list of priorities and the development staff has been quite
collaborative in working with student affairs to insure that we
DB: The university is supportive of what donors want to support. At Texas A&M, two full-time development officers are
on the student affairs staff. One-third of my time was spent
directly on development. As your success keeps growing and
growing, it is easy to get used to that revenue stream.
Q: How can younger staff members prepare for
future leadership positions?
LM: There is a real need for graduate preparation programs
that compress theories and philosophies into appropriate
coursework. That coursework must complement and expand
our roles in terms of political acumen, administration, development, finance, and business to provide the profession with
more well-rounded graduates. Our jobs need to be observed
through the widest possible lenses.
BS: What I hear from colleagues and through my own observation is that today’s students preparing for a career in student
affairs do not have broad knowledge and do not want to work
very hard. Student affairs is hard work. The generation we are
producing must understand there is no substitute for making a