Division of Student Affairs Assessment

The Division of Student Affairs (SA) supports the mission of Utah State University: “to be one of the nation’s premier student centered land grant and space grant universities” by “enhancing the academic, personal, ethical, social and cultural experiences of students,” as per the SA mission. An executive leadership team comprised of the Vice President for Student Affairs, who serves on the President’s Executive Council, supported by one Associate and one Assistant Vice President collaborate to manage four key areas within the division: student success, enrollment services, health wellness & recreation, and student involvement & leadership. Engaged in these four areas of focus are 17 departments that provide services, support, opportunity, and growth to students by collaborating across the division and in academic, community, and industry partnerships.

“Holding people accountable is about much more than criticizing them. It is about assigning responsibility with realistic goals, evaluating progress and making positive course corrections at milestones, removing obstacles, and then closing the loop by celebrating successes or honestly and openly evaluating misses.”

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, pp 160, 161
All In

Using departmental and collaborative data, the division strives for evidence-based decision-making when considering new programs or initiatives or making changes in existing programs to better support our students’ holistic development.

Assessment Cycle

Assessment efforts within the division are focused on evaluating and fostering student learning. Our assessment efforts include:

  • “Dashboard” and usage/demographic data (descriptive data)
  • Student and stakeholder satisfaction surveys
  • Cohort and longitudinal data comparisons
  • Student learning outcomes, based on specific learning objectives

Mission Statement

The Division of Student Affairs is committed to students' global learning and environments, by enhancing the academic, personal, ethical, social and cultural experiences of students. Our vision is to promote academic success, health and wellness, service to others, civic engagement, appreciation of diversity, personal responsibility, and leadership.

Vision Statement

Prepared by Dr. James Morales, Vice President of Student Affairs

The modern, research university is a complex, multi-faceted institution that can become self-centered if not effectively managed. Programs, internal and external stakeholders, societal forces, and other demands can exert great pressure on a university to assume a posture directed away from its most important constituency: its students. This drift may not happen intentionally nor with malice, but simply as a result of the institution’s inability to cope with the competing demands constantly being placed upon it. The Student Affairs Division must ensure that the students who place their trust in the university to provide them the best possible opportunities for learning and growing, in fact, does so. The responsibilities of the division are best grouped into the following categories: 1) Access and diversity; 2) Student success; 3) Community-building; 4) Effective stewardship of resources; 5) Accountability and communication; and 6) Mentorship and inspiration.

Access and Diversity

The Student Affairs Division at a research-intensive, land-grant university must play a pivotal role in ensuring that the doors to the educational opportunities that the institution has to offer are open to people from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, age groups, geographic origin, etc.

Student Success

Student success is defined differently by each student and their parents, guardians, or families. Some define it as obtaining an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree while others consider success as having obtained value-added learning experiences that serve to further propel them within their chosen career or vocation. Still other students define success as the nourishment of their hunger for learning and their development as a well-rounded human being. All of these definitions are appropriate and intrinsically right. The Student Affairs Division must be in tune with these definitions of student success and must foster the type of environment that will ensure as many of those definitions of success as possible. However, because of the mission of the institution and finite resources, not every definition can or may be fully served.


An accessible, vibrant community provides the best foundation for student success. The strength or quality of that community can be measured by the degree to which it allows for a diverse population to engage each other and the institution in a productive manner. The Student Affairs Division must monitor constantly the health and status of the university community to enable the institution to detect and address proactively, any issues that may threaten to alter or disrupt the accessibility and vibrancy of the community. It is the responsibility of the Student Affairs Division to take the lead, along with other members of the university community, in establishing the indicators to be monitored to detect emerging issues. These indicators may be varied and complex but at a minimum should include the feedback gathered via direct connections with student leaders and student organizations, faculty and staff groups, other administrators, the local, regional, state, and national communities, the student affairs profession, and external stakeholders.

Effective Stewardship of Resources

Regardless of the circumstances, whether in times of fiscal constraint or largess, a land-grant institution must never forget that its resources have been entrusted to it by the citizens of the state, region, and/or nation. Resources from private sources must also be regarded in this way because they have been given to support a vision of learning and growth shared by the benefactor. The Student Affairs Division is responsible for ensuring that funds allocated to it are used to further the mission of the institution and where appropriate, the wishes of the benefactors. There is no room for waste or misuse, period.

Accountability and Communication

Complete accountability and effective communication must be hallmarks of the work and activities of the Student Affairs Division at a modern, research-intensive university. The division is responsible to multiple stakeholders including the President of the university, students, legislators, donors, members of the community at-large, families of students, division members, faculty, and other members of the university community. Transparency is of paramount importance and every effort should be made to achieve this goal when it comes to budgets, issues that arise and their resolution, and the responsiveness of the Student Affairs Division to its stakeholders.

Mentorship and Inspiration

Members of the Student Affairs Division have a unique role to fill as both mentors and role models for students and members of the University community. As mentors, division members must understand the aspirations of their colleagues in the division and be active in providing and/or supporting opportunities for their professional development. Likewise, the division has the responsibility of developing and promoting opportunities for students to apply their learning via real-world experiences. Some of these opportunities may be offered within the Student Affairs Division but the division must also engage the university and broader communities to ensure that opportunities for student development are being made available. The members of the division also have the responsibility of being role models of the behaviors expected of students and University community members. This includes demonstrating strong and effective leadership, exhibiting understanding and empathy, and participating in the community as a model citizen. In the end, nothing should be more satisfying to members of the Student Affairs Division than to see students and community members alike, engaging in those behaviors promoted by the Student Affairs Division that result in academic, personal, and professional success.

The Division of Student Affairs works with the directors and professionals in the 17 departments to ensure there is collaboration in meeting the division goals while recognizing that much of the work and progress towards these goals happens at the department level. Departments are encouraged to map their goals to the overall division goals.

  1. Improve and promote positive relationships and satisfaction throughout the division, within and between various levels and offices and between students and the division, including relationships with students, alumni and donors.
  2. Partner and collaborate with all university departments, programs, services, and key stakeholders including donors and alumni to provide communication, training, and expertise that support student learning and development in and out of class.
  3. Create and implement a model for developing and allocating resources (space, staff, operations, personal and professional growth and development) and matching resources to prioritized departmental functions.
  4. Develop and implement a Student Affairs information and assessment system for planning, decision-making and marketing.
  5. Create a unified image and theme for the Division.
  6. Serve as advocates for students in all university matters.
  7. Promote ethical behavior among and between students, staff, faculty and other division stakeholders.
  8. Promote academic success through courses, tutoring and mentoring activities.

The Division of Student Affairs is committed to adhering to industry/higher education standards, as well as reviewing, developing, and implementing additional materials to support our mission, vision, and goals. These key documents, guiding division-wide assessment, are listed below.

  • NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading voice for student affairs administration, policy, and practice, and affirms the commitment of the student affairs profession to educating the whole student and integrating student life and learning. Founded in 1919 at the University of Wisconsin, NASPA has more than 13,000 members at 1,400 campuses, and 25 countries. NASPA members are committed to serving college students by embracing the core values of diversity, learning, integrity, collaboration, access, service, fellowship, and the spirit of inquiry. NASPA is one of many organizations focused on Graduate enrollment management.
  • Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) is the pre-eminent force for promoting standards in student affairs, student services, and student development programs. www.cas.edu
  • Division Self Study Report
  • Student Affairs Narrative, fall 2017, for The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • All In”, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, summer 2017
  • The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work”, by Shawn Achor, summer 2016
  • Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs (NASPA)
  • Donor Bill of Rights (Development)
  • Strategic Enrollment Planning: A Dynamic Collaboration
    How higher education leaders can align mission, vision, and values with shifting market needs and expectations. Second Edition
    Edited by Lewis W. Sanborne, PhD, Ruffalo Noel Levitz

Individual departments within The Division of Student Affairs are unique with their own assessment and departmental goals. Each department is encouraged to complete a unified and transparent assessment website while mapping their department goals to the overall division goals. This process encourages collaboration and ensures the departments are striving to fulfill the overreaching goals from the division level. View each Student Affairs departmental assessment and program outcomes by clicking on the department name on the far left column.

Office of the Vice President
Academic Success Center
  * “Student Support Services            
Career Services      
Exploratory Advising>        
Financial Aid      
Student Orientation & Transition Services      
Student Health & Wellness Services    
Counseling and Psychological Services    
Campus Recreation  
Disability Resource Center          
Access & Diversity Center      
Center for Community Engagement            
Student Involvement & Leadership  

 * “Reports to the department or office listed above.

Promote positive relationships
Communication, training & expertise
Allocating & matching resources
Assessment System
Unified image & theme
Advocate for student
Promote ethical behavior
Promote academic success
Office of the Vice President 8 9 4 1 3 5 5 5
Academic Success Center 9 11 8 7 3 7 5 14
  * “Student Support Services 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 4
Career Services 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 3
Exploratory Advising 4 2 0 0 0 5 0 3
Admissions 1 1 1 3 1 2 3 0
Financial Aid 5 1 4 0 0 5 1 0
Registrars 3 2 1 0 0 0 1 3
Student Orientation & Transition Services 2 4 0 0 0 2 1 1
Student Health & Wellness Services
Counseling and Psychological Services 4 3 1 0 0 4 4 3
Campus Recreation 1 2 1 0 1 1 1 1
Disability Resource Center 0 4 0 0 0 4 0 4
Access & Diversity Center 1 6 0 0 0 6 3 1
Center for Community Engagement 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1
Student Involvement & Leadership 0 1 2 1 1 2 1 2
Goal Totals 43 58 22 12 9 43 25 45
  • Departments are engaged in meeting the Division goal
  • Several departments expressed the need for a goal related to off campus community outreach
  • Goals 4 & 5 were viewed as broad division goals and not department specific
  • Recommendation for summer 2018 - revisit mission, vision, and goals (Administrative Council, SA Leadership Team, and Directors)

The Division of Student Affairs is multi-faceted and distinct due to 17 individual departments and the challenges and opportunities each face. Continuous improvement is ongoing through departmental assessment goals as evidenced in the Division Wide Goal Mapping. In addition to departmental progress, the Office of the Vice President, and the Staff Development and Assessment Committee (SDAC), have a broader role in navigating the assessment occurring at the division level.

Office of the Vice President

Upon arriving at Utah State, one-on-one meetings were initiated by the Vice President with the directors to assess the opportunities and challenges within each department, while getting to know each director personally and professionally. Because of these meetings, and in consultation across the leadership team and with peers, key changes within the division included:

  • Updated mission, vision, and goals;
  • Hiring of a consulting firm, Scannell & Kurz;
  • Division-wide organization and support changes;
  • Key program coordinators were hired to support the division; and
  • Creation of the Staff Development & Assessment Committee (SDAC).

In 2010, 2011, and 2016, the division contracted with Scannel & Kurz (S&K), a higher education strategic enrollment management and planning services firm, to conduct a data-driven review of current pricing and financial aid strategies for incoming freshmen/transfers to make recommendations for policy adjustments that would better support the university’s enrollment, retention, financial aid, and revenue goals. Student Affairs Narrative, fall 2017, NWCCU

The division was reorganized into four functional areas (student success, enrollment services, health wellness & recreation, and student involvement & leadership) promoting awareness and collaboration across these departments. Key program coordinators working in student conduct & title IX, retention/completion, Gear-Up, development, marketing, IT, and business services were hired. Monthly administrative council meetings are held with the leadership team, directors and key administrators from across campus from Res Life to Global Engagement. Lastly, in 2015, the Staff Development & Assessment committee was formed.

Staff Development & Assessment Committee (SDAC)

In 2015, The SDAC was created with the charge to develop, implement, and deliver professional/personal training and development, as well as assessment planning and reporting for the division of student affairs. Three areas of focus for the committee are the following:

  • Performance Appraisal & Engagement
  • Training & Development
  • Assessment & Reporting

In 2016, training began for all staff completing performance appraisals (PA), and all directors and supervisors received PA training. Additionally, rubrics were created for each performance role.

In 2016 and 2017, division-wide training, with a variety of timely and needed topics, was developed and delivered. Currently, a canvas course for on-line training is almost complete covering the developed topics. In addition to the division-wide training, new hire orientation, and Qualtrics training were created and implemented and are ongoing. Student Affairs Narrative, fall 2017, NWCCU

In 2017, the SDAC chair completed assessment training with the ACPA institute. After reviewing best practices and looking at needs for the division through a departmental web site audit, a comprehensive training on assessment was provided to all directors, July 2017. Additionally, a template was developed to bring uniformity and transparency to each departmental and division assessment web site.

Department Assessment Website Audit (.xlsx)

In the coming academic year 2017 - 2018, the following programs/activities are planned to advance staff development and assessment work across the division.

    Performance Appraisal & Engagement

  1. Investigate programs to implement a 360o evaluation of directors, program coordinators, AVP, and VP level roles
  2. Improve the online form by investigating putting performance appraisals in Qualtrics or a similar tool.
  3. Training & Development

  4. Complete and deliver a training needs assessment to entire division staff at all levels
  5. Create a second phase of new hire follow-up training
  6. Implement a division awards and recognition program
  7. Finalize and launch the SA canvas course for training within the division
  8. Assessment & Reporting

  9. Develop volunteer consultants/liaisons to share technical survey research knowledge with directors
  10. Hold a regular series of assessment camps, during the FY2018 year with a focus on assessment techniques
  11. Propose that the SDAC chair serve on the leadership team, based on best practices from ACPA
  12. Promote attendance at ACPA for all directors
  13. Review the division mission, vision, and goals based on departmental assessment mapping to determine if changes or additional strategies are needed