The Future of Campus
Directors Face Increasingly Complex Issues
BY DENISE HAYES
The higher education environment is different from other organizations. Writing in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies (2010), Z. A. Smith and Mimi Wolverton explain that “faculty members operate in an environment with little supervision yet maintain a powerful voice in significant institutional decisions. Leaders must balance the often-competing interests of these faculty members against those of other constituents, including students, trustees, donors, government representatives, and community members.” Along with the increasing severity of concerns presented by
students, recent economic challenges, and the ongoing need to respond to campus, local, and national trends,
this political reality mandates that college and university counseling center directors are strategic and proactive
in managing their centers.
Common expectations of counseling centers serving college
and university campuses are to: provide mental health and
psycho-education services to students, faculty, and staff; maintain professional staff who provide quality care to students
experiencing emotional crises or facing mental illnesses; and
inform administration of high-risk students with the potential to endanger themselves or others on campus. Often a
staff member’s rise to directorship stems from performance as
an excellent clinician, seniority within the counseling center, and/or established credentials as opposed to training in
business, management, or other management-related careers.
Professional development, management literature, mentoring,
and membership in professional organizations are essential
to every director’s success.
In addition to providing direct clinical care, directors are
responsible for charting a path for their centers, clarifying
the missions, and negotiating the needs of the center with
the needs of the departmental unit and the campus at large.
Additionally, a counseling center director must be aware
of and respond to trends and challenges within the mental
health arena, most recently including the mergers of col-
lege counseling centers and student health centers; growing
demand by students with increasingly more severe symptoms
and chronic mental illnesses; and the impact of technol-
ogy on student communications and on counseling centers’
operations. Based on the findings of the annual survey of the
Association for University and College Counseling Center
Directors (AUCCCD), this article examines national trends
and challenges in the industry and offers recommendations for
practitioners and senior student affairs officers (SSAOs).