Role and functions of chief student affairs officers at public community colleges in New England

Karin B Edwards, Johnson & Wales University

Abstract

As a result of changing demographics and workforce needs, community colleges have grown and have become more diverse. They have broadened their programs and course offerings to respond to societal changes. It is to be expected that the role and functions of chief student affairs officers (CSAOs) in these institutions have also changed.^ The role of chief student affairs officers at four-year schools has been studied periodically, but that is of the case with community colleges. Literature reports the expectations and responsibilities of CSAOs have changed, thus requiring different competencies, but does not report whether these changes have actually occurred at community colleges. In the past, the literature suggested there were conflicting perceptions between college presidents and CSAOs concerning the role and functions of chief student affairs officer. ^ This study was designed to determine the essential functions of chief student affairs officers at public community colleges in New England and to determine whether there were divergent views held by chief student affairs officers and presidents regarding the relative importance of those functions, particularly leadership. The study also looked for inconsistencies between what the literature and advertisements identified, and what practicing professional suggested were the important functions of CSAOs.^ Information was gathered using two forms of a questionnaire directed to CSAOs (N = 44; return rate = 65%) and college presidents (N = 40; return rate = 58%) and interviews with selected CSAOs (n = 10) and presidents (n = 10). Additionally, CSAO position announcements were gathered for the past 20 years to determine if the public pronouncements concerning the role and functions of the CSAO position have changed.^ Major findings from this study included: (1) Most CSAOs were part of the college management team; therefore, leadership was inherent in their positions and expected of them. (2) Although presidents and CSAOs described functions differently, there was no evidence of disagreement in their perceptions of which CSAO functions were important. (3) Job descriptions have changed little over the past 20 years, though advertisements did not always describe the functions of the position the way incumbents did.^

Subject Area

Education, Community College|Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Karin B Edwards, "Role and functions of chief student affairs officers at public community colleges in New England" (January 1, 2006). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI3234441.
http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/dissertations/AAI3234441

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