Boards have decision-making power over financial matters and resource allocation to programs that enhance student learning and promote academic progress toward degree completion. To that end, ensuring adequate resources for the work of developing and serving students outside the classroom is a key component of the student affairs committee’s work. [...]
Student services are strong partners to the academic offerings of an institution. They promote engagement through deep levels of learning and the production of enduring and measurable gains and outcomes. As student populations increase and diversify, it is important to add not only faculty and class offerings, but also those staff, programs, and services required to meet student needs outside their courses. One without the other leads to high rates of attrition and student dissatisfaction.
The student affairs committee can help make sure that student needs are met in and out of the classroom.
For example, the dramatic influx of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has created demand for services that exceed financial-aid processing and expand into mental health, connection to other veterans on campus, and reaction to campus dialogue regarding the wars. Demand has increased, too, for accommodation for increasing numbers of students with disabilities, as well as for transition assistance and ongoing support programs for underrepresented students on campus.
It is tempting to reduce programs and services outside the classroom in times of financial constraint. It is the role of the student affairs committee to bring an understanding of the potential negative impact of such reductions on student learning and development. Student affairs committee members should regularly review the assessment results of student services programs to ensure their effectiveness. They should also familiarize themselves with student satisfaction surveys, such as those conducted in housing and dining services, surveys of campus climate for students of color, and patterns of student use of the health and counseling centers—as well as any general-needs assessments conducted by the student services staff. [...]
Every college and university has a mission that must be understood by the student affairs committee in order for it to do its work. This understanding will empower members to ask hard questions and request relevant information.