October 28, 2016

Christa PorterWelcome to our first edition of SAA@MSU—a brief newsletter to keep you connected with the Student Affairs Administration master’s program at Michigan State University. SAA@MSU will be distributed twice a year to program alumni and campus partners, will include program updates, and will highlight current experiences of our students, faculty, partners, and alumni.

The Student Affairs Administration master’s program within Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education has been incredibly successful. Our graduation and employment rates remain high, we receive over 300 admissions applications each academic year and our partnerships with MSU and local campuses continue to grow. The title of the academic program may have changed throughout the years since our inception in 1949, however, our success has remained strong due to the amazing students’ desire to engage the literature and practical nature of the profession coupled with faculty members and campus partners’ ability to guide, nurture and foster learning both in and outside of the classroom. As many of you know, one of our points of pride is our ability to provide theory-to-practice through experiential learning opportunities such as teaching an undergraduate leadership course, studying abroad, obtaining an assistantship and summer internship and the two required practica experiences within a specific functional area.

Specifically, I am excited to highlight a shift in the practica experiences in order to more fully align with the NASPA and ACPA professional competencies. Previously, students did in fact enjoy experiences and gain exposure to administrative processes in student affairs, however not all experiences leant themselves to enhancing professional competencies. I gathered feedback for program improvement from previous sites and students, communicated to site representatives any updates concerning our program’s value in aligning with the competencies, then narrowed the list of potential placements to those who could provide the most robust theory-to-practice and competency development to SAA students. I created and disseminated a Call for Practica form whereby potential site supervisors were required to create learning outcomes and articulate their plans for developing and/or enhancing students’ professional competencies. I created a timeline similar to the summer internship processes within NODA and ACHUO-I, for students and supervisors to communicate, interview, and offer placements. Once placements were made, supervisors and students then re-visited the Call for Practica form to re-create/enhance original outcomes and the project description based on discussion of the student’s personal and professional goals.

As I enter my fourth year of program coordination, I am excited for continued improvement and partnerships, and opportunities to actively engage our students and prepare them for entering and returning to collegiate environments, non-profits and higher education agencies. I hope to hear from you, and welcome your ideas for program enhancement, involvement and future newsletter issues.

With Spartan Pride,

Christa J. Porter, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education