Chief student affairs officers of institutions belonging to the council for Christian Colleges and Universities: Educator, leader, or manager
Elkins, Gregory G.
American colleges and universities are concerned with the out-of-the-classroom lives of their students (Weingartner, 1996). The non-classroom learning includes programs and services offered by institutions to transition students in developing to their full potential for their personal success and the betterment of society (Goodlad, 1997; Winston et al. 2001). Though referred to by a host of names, student affairs is chiefly responsible for this aspect of American higher education. Sandeen (1991) suggested the senior level administrator responsible for the out-of-the-classroom programs and services for students is commonly referred to as the Chief Student Affairs Officer (CSAO). Influenced by various ever-changing events, student affairs and the CSAO have emerged from a student conduct and disciplinarian role to the current diverse programs and services offered that compliment the academic mission of a specific institution. With the expansion of the traditional disciplinarian role the current CSAO is described as an educator, leader, and manager (Winston et al. 2001). One obstacle to studying the CSAO position is that student affairs as a profession and organization is still evolving and the roles and responsibilities vary from one campus to another. As a result, the role of a CSAO is not standardized in the specific setting of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). This study will determine whether CCCU CSAOs primarily consider themselves educators, leaders, or managers and whether there is a difference among CSAOs’ perception of self on each grouped behavioral characteristics associated with each student affairs administration domain. In addition, this study will also generate demographic information from this population of CSAOs. This study is based upon the theoretical perspective and research of Winston et al. (2001). They identified three student affairs administration domains including educator, leader, and manager. Associated with the leader and manager domains are behavioral characteristics adapted from the research of Yukl (1998) while Winston et al. created the behavioral characteristics associated with the educator domain. Winston et al. contended all three domains are crucial, but the educator domain is the cornerstone. The collection of data, via a web-based survey, was a four-step process over approximately three weeks during July 2005. The data collected represents a 62.1% (N=64, 103) response rate. Supporting their self-perception of primarily being leaders, the overall means indicated the CCCU CSAO’s overall responsibilities, amount of time spent daily, and the most essential domain to possess of an aspiring CSAO aligned with the behavioral characteristics associated with the leader domain followed by the manager and educator domains, respectfully. By utilizing analysis of variance (ANOVA) a statistical difference in the means was found among the educator domain. Specifically, Tukey Honestly Significant Difference (HSD) identified a significant mean difference in the amount of time spent daily between educators and leaders. Further, utilizing split file as a statistical technique, those CCCU CSAOs who primarily considered themselves leaders performed as such; those who primarily considered themselves educators did not perform as such, but rather as leaders; and those who primarily considered themselves managers performed as such. As the research study began, the researcher expected the findings to support Sandeen’s (1991) claim that CSAO are primarily educators and the Winston et al. (2001) theoretical perspective that the educator domain is the cornerstone of student affairs administration. The study found CCCU CSAOs do not support Sandeen’s claim. On the contrary, this population of CSAOs primarily considered themselves leaders and most admired educational administrators as leaders. The study also did not fully lend support for Winston et al. theoretical perspective that the educator domain is the cornerstone of student affairs administration. On a daily basis, the CCCU CSAOs who primarily considered themselves educators did perform as educators and thus, supports the theoretical perspective. However, those CCCU CSAOs who primarily considered themselves leaders and managers did not perform as educators and did not support the theoretical perspective. Though all three domains are crucial, the majority of CCCU CSAOs indicated the behavioral characteristics associated with the leader domain as the most prevalent.