Careers in Student Affairs: A Holistic Guide to Professional Development in Higher Education

NASPA’s newest book Careers in Student Affairs: A Holistic Guide to Professional Development in Higher Education is getting rave reviews! Integrating perspectives from both research and practical application, this reader-friendly book addresses contemporary issues in the higher education environment that are not typically covered in the graduate curriculum but that employers expect student affairs professionals to be prepared for from their first position and beyond.

Given the interest in socialization and a growing base of literature about student affairs professional development, Careers in Student Affairs: A Holistic Guide to Professional Development in Higher Education, edited by Holzweiss and Parrott, is certainly a welcome addition to the professional's bookshelf. The book is both theoretical and practical, applying to educators with a range of backgrounds and experiences. The authors are well-known leaders of student affairs practice. One of the best attributes of the book is how it pulls in literature from other disciplines outside of student affairs to address very relevant professional development issues, such as managing institutional culture and politics.

— Journal of College Student Development


The following is an excerpt from Understanding Campus Culturesby Rebecca McBride Bustamante in Careers in Student Affairs: A Holistic Guide to Professional Development in Higher Education.

"Cross, Bazron, Dennis, and Isaacs (1989) originally proposed a developmental model of cultural competence for mental health organizations, and Sue (2001) and Sue and Constantine (2005) applied the model to higher education organizations. Bustamante, Nelson, and Onwuegbuzie (2009) defined organizational cultural competence in educational organizations as how well an institution’s policies, programs, and practices reflect the values, perspectives, and experiences of culturally diverse groups (subcultures) of people, particularly student groups. An institution must have culturally competent and responsive practices to cultivate a campus culture that responds caringly and appropriately to students’ needs in a culturally diverse world. 

One way student affairs professionals can assess organizational cultural competence is by performing culture audits, which typically involve a team effort and multiple methods of exploring the characteristics of a college or university. Elements of campus culture might be manifest in an institution’s traditions, artifacts, messages, ceremonies, language, traditions, espoused values, and overt subcultures (see Bustamante et al., 2009; Kezar & Eckel, 2002; Tierney, 1988). The team collects data using a variety of methods, including: organizational climate surveys of various campus groups; focus group interviews and town hall meetings; observations of artifacts and websites; field observations of various campus groups’ behaviors; and individual interviews with key stakeholders, such as administrators, campus leaders, students, faculty members, staff, alumni, and community members.

Tierney (1988) first proposed a framework for using culture audits in higher education that includes observing institutional rituals, meetings, and events, and interviewing individuals to examine cultural meaning. Tierney’s (1988) framework focuses on six elements:

·   mission,

·   environment (stable, changing, accommodating),

·   socialization of newcomers,

·   information (value and control),

·   strategy (who makes decisions), and

·   leadership (formal and informal).

Similar methods of assessing campus inclusion and equity include Bensimon’s (2004) equity scorecard, Bustamante et al.’s (2009) culture audit, and climate surveys (see Harper & Hurtado, 2007). In general, these tools have proven to be valuable to administrators in assessing campus cultures. Higher education professionals benefit by becoming good organizational analysts (Amey, Jessup-Anger, & Tingson-Gatuz, 2015), and culture audits are an effective means by which they can analyze and understand campus cultures."


Access the entire Careers in Student Affairs: A Holistic Guide to Professional Development in Higher Education here. NASPA members can purchase this book at a discount.