NACA BLOG - Takeaways from The Forum for Student Org Advisors - 3/13/2023

March 13, 2023Forum photo.jpg

Takeaways from The Forum For Student Organization Advisors

Bill Boxdorfer

Saint Louis University (MO)

Over the past 4-5 years, NACA has made an intentional effort to foster the educational growth of the Association. From the Summer Institutes & Summer Series to the Mid-Level Professional Course, the Association is committed to the educational development of its members. Each year, I work to maximize my membership with NACA to further develop myself to better serve students. I set goals for myself; one goal always involves strategically using the resources and benefits of NACA.  

This academic year, NACA developed and implemented the Forum for Student Organization Advisors, held on February 18 before the kickoff to NACA Live in Louisville. The Forum provided a space for attendees (new professionals and seasoned professionals from various institutional types) to learn how we can support and develop our campus student organizations. The association featured experts at the Forum that included Dr. Kellie Dixon of Baylor University and Michelle Whited of Illinois State University as well as NACA’s very own Dr. Sarah Keeling and Leah Eickhoff.  

Dr. Kellie Dixon, the forum's first speaker, presented on DEI & Intentional Assessment. Dr. Dixon, or as they mentioned, Dr. K for short, kicked off the morning presentation by asking the attendees, “What motivates you?” This question had authentic, honest answers shared openly by the attendees. It led to the topic of whether we were People-Driven (motivated by the growth of others), Performance-Driven (motivated by achieving results and goals), Process-Driven (motivated by meaningful order), or a combination of the three. We were asked how our motivations were associated with relationship awareness and how the motivations show up in our work with students. Dr. K stated that we must understand our campus culture through the lens of our campus activities. Through Dr. K’s presentation, there were several key takeaways. We need to make room for various perspectives to be heard and valued at the table. Our assessment practices must align with the missions of the University, Division, and Development. We must involve the students in the data collection & analysis and then share the results.  

Michelle Whited was the forum's second speaker and spoke to the attendees on “Establishing Yourself as a Student Organization Advisor.” This presentation gave us fantastic recommendations for being better advisors and professionals. We must have clear expectations of ourselves that align with those of our students, colleagues, etc., when establishing ourselves as student organization advisors. Michelle emphasized that we need to understand the environment in which we work, our priorities, roles, and responsibilities, and how to extend our professional support network while building our professional reputation amongst the students that we serve. Each institution is different, and it is important to understand the campus environment and student population and know how to utilize the partnerships/resources to meet the needs of our students. We were called to challenge ourselves to continue our growth to learn for the betterment of our student’s experiences. 

We were fortunate to have several fantastic roundtable discussions facilitated by the NACA staff on various topics, such as a sense of belonging and the role student organizations play on our campuses, assessment, student organization governance, risk management, liabilities associated with student organizations, and countless other topics. The professionals shared experiences, offered advice, listened to others, etc.  

Overall, the major takeaways from the Forum for myself were:  

  • Reflect on what motivates you - People, Performance, or Process 
  • Always remember your “why” in this field 
  • Build your network of support, find a mentor, and be a mentor.  

I will end by saying that I truly enjoyed my experience at the first-ever Forum for Student Organization Advisors and hope that colleagues in the association take the opportunity to participate in the next Forum offered by NACA. It will be a tremendous experience, I am sure.  

Bill Boxdorfer, M.A. serves as the program coordinator for Student Organization Management at Saint Louis University (MO) and has over 10 years of higher education experience. Since 2016, he has volunteered with NACA in various roles, both regionally and nationally. He is pursuing his doctorate in Higher Education Leadership at Maryville University in St. Louis.  


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