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Preparing Higher Education’s Future Leaders

April 15, 2014

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The coming decades face a shift in the demographics of students attending America’s colleges and universities. According to the Pew Research Center, the numbers of both Hispanic and Asian students will triple in size in the next 40 years. The number of students in the world studying outside their home country will rise by more than 30 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Colleges must change to reflect growing diversity and globalization. On the frontlines will be professionals in student affairs administration—multicultural student affairs, student activities, career services, academic advising, international support services and residential life.

Program Details
Total credit hours: 39 semester hours
Program length: Four semesters (part-time six-semester option available). Classes scheduled in the evening and on weekends to accommodate working professionals.
Practicum: Placed in an office on one of Lewis & Clark’s three campuses. 150 hours, 10 hours per week in both spring semesters.
Graduate assistantships: Available, 20 hours per week.
Program start date: September
Application deadlines: May 1, 2014; February 15, 2015
No tests required for admission.

To help prepare higher education professionals, Lewis & Clark is launching a master’s degree program in student affairs administration this fall, focused on social justice and equality. Housed in the Graduate School of Education and Counseling, the program will still touch student life in all three of Lewis & Clark’s schools.

“Breaking down barriers to access and providing the support needed for success in higher education is what student affairs administration is—or should be—about,” said Scott Fletcher, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Counseling and director of the new program. “Lewis & Clark is going to make a significant contribution to that effort.”

A Growing Field

Last year, Fletcher and Anna Gonzalez, dean of student life in the College of Arts and Sciences, began discussing the idea for the program. They noted that job placement rates for graduates of top programs in the Western region hovered near 95 percent. “All over the Northwest, we’ve been seeing a tremendous demand, with applicants to existing programs far outnumbering available space,” says Gonzalez.

The natural home for the program, they felt, was the Graduate School of Education and Counseling. “The graduate school,” Fletcher said, “is deeply committed to preparing professionals in education and counseling who will make a difference in the world through their service to others.”

Rather than viewing student affairs as “customer service,” Lewis & Clark’s program will have a unique social justice focus dedicated to promoting the academic success and personal growth of students in and outside the classroom.

“There are currently few graduate programs that have this social justice angle, and many of the professionals currently working in the field without an advanced degree have a strong interest in this focus area,” says Gonzalez. Graduates of the program will enter higher education with tools to create open, inclusive, and democratic communities responsive to our evolving world.

Program Structure

Lewis & Clark’s program is based on a practitioner-scholar model. Students will learn about student development and leadership, organizational management, legal issues, professional ethics, assessment, and advising. They will apply this knowledge in supervised practica on all three Lewis & Clark campuses—and eventually in schools around Portland. Each student will graduate with a portfolio summarizing learning outcomes and goals.

The program’s founding faculty also include Mark Figueroa, associate provost for institutional research and planning; David Ellis, vice president, secretary, and general counsel of the college; and Mollie Galloway, assistant professor of educational leadership. “These are individuals who have national reputations in their respective fields,” said Fletcher.

A Promising Future

Lewis & Clark plans to keep initial cohort sizes around eight to ten students, but the faculty is confident the program will grow. “Our admissions process has been open less than a month, and we are already talking with numerous applicants from across the country,” says Fletcher.

“This program will help integrate the graduate school, the undergraduate college, and the law school,” says Gonzalez. “We’ll be educating a new generation of higher ed. leaders who will be modeling the transformative power of education.”


By Kathleen Burckhardt ’13


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