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Core Competencies

The following is a list of competencies for student affairs professionals that align with the recommendations of NASPA and ACPA. The Planning, Assessment, and Professional Development office will offer sessions on each of the following on a revolving basis that are tailored to fit the culture of our campus. To see which ones are up next and RSVP to attend, visit our Investing in You professional development program page.

  • University Leadership: Perspectives on Structure, Culture, and Norms
  • Personal and Ethical Foundations of Student Affairs Educators
  • Professional Values, Philosophy, and History of Student Affairs
  • Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
  • Applying Law, Policy, and Governance in Student Affairs
  • Organizational and Human Resources
  • Financial Planning and Management
  • Leadership Skills
  • Social Justice and Inclusion
  • Student Learning and Development
  • Technology Tools for Student & Organizational Success
  • Advising and Supporting Students
  • Internal/External Relations
  • Planning Your Next Professional Move

Session Abstracts

 University Leadership: Perspectives on Structure, Culture, and Norms: Participants will analyze CSUSM organizational culture and norms, apply the four frames of leadership as defined by Bolman and Deal in ‚ÄúReframing Organizations‚ÄĚ (2013) to CSUSM operating norms, dialog with other CSUSM leaders about organizational values and norms, shared governance, and areas of needed improvement, and understand the University and the Division organizational charts.

Personal and Ethical Foundations of Student Affairs Educators: Participants will be able to identify and describe their ability to maintain integrity in their life and work, thoughtfully develop a plan to adhere to a holistic and comprehensive standard of ethics and commitment to their own wellness and growth, and have an awareness and understanding of their values and beliefs, especially as related to professional codes of ethics and principles for personal wellness.

Professional Values, Philosophy, and History of Student Affairs: Participants will understand the history, philosophy, and values of the student affairs profession, learn how to connect the history, philosophy, and values to their current professional practice, and learn about and apply the CSUSM Division of Student Affairs Strategic Plan.

Assessment, Evaluation, and Research: Participants will understand the role of Student Affairs assessment, evaluation and research in program and service improvement, design and use various methodologies to conduct assessment, evaluation and research, use results of assessments and evaluation to improve practice, create and implement a comprehensive assessment and evaluation program for the department, and collaborate with Institutional Research and other campus departments to do dataset and analytics based evaluation.

Applying Law, Policy, and Governance in Student Affairs: Participants will interpret, apply and create various campus and system-wide policies, understand legal constructs that are relevant to the Student Affairs workplace and their specific function area, hold reporting staff accountable for compliance/policy issues, and understand the CSU governance and California state higher education governance structures and their impact on professional practice.

Organizational and Human Resources/Financial Planning and Management:  Participants will improve their skills in working with institutional human, financial, and physical resources, add to their knowledge of the selection, supervision, motivation, and evaluation of personnel in their role as leads or with student assistants, and improve their ability to resolve conflict in the workplace. They will also understand funding resources and identify new funding streams, implement relevant and efficient expenditures, and determine resource impact on students and the institution, utilize the budget as a planning tool to reflect commitment to the mission and goals of the institution, and administer funds in accordance with established institutional accounting procedures and practice responsible stewardship of fiscal resources consistent with institutional protocols.

Leadership Skills: Participants will understand their role as a leader, identify and leverage their leadership strengths based on the results of utilizing the StrengthsFinder assessment tool, improve their skills as a leader of a well-functioning team, envision, plan, and affect change in organizations and respond to broad-based constituencies and issues, and create and implement organizational vision and conduct strategic planning efforts in the department.

Social Justice and Inclusion: Participants will identify and share their own cultural* background and history, and explain what this allows them to bring to their professional work, determine how to create learning environments that foster equitable participation of all groups while seeking to address and acknowledge issues of oppression, privilege, and power, describe having a sense of their own agency and social responsibility that includes others on campus, community, and the larger global context, address and remedy instances and situations of inequality on campus, and engage in this work with civility when faced with differing viewpoints and foster this ability in others. 

*Culture in this context is broad, including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, abilities, nationality, socio-economic class, etc.

Student Learning and Development: Participants will understand the concepts and principles of foundational and emergent student development and learning theory, apply theory to specific work in Student Affairs, and identify, implement, and assess student learning outcomes in the department.

Using Technology for Student & Organizational Success: Participants will identify the various technology-based tools that are useful in their function area in Student Affairs and identify best practices, use digital tools, resources, and technologies for the advancement of student learning, development, and success, partner with the IT resources at CSUSM, use technology to improve the performance of student affairs professionals, and foster digital literacy and digital citizenship across various student constituencies.

Advising and Supporting Students: Participants will teach others how to provide student advising and support to individuals and groups through direction, feedback, critique, referral, and guidance, teach others how to use advising and supporting skills to promote student self-knowledge and holistic wellness, and understand the various ways that students can receive advising and counseling services at CSUSM and actively engage in the improvement of these services.

Internal & External Relations: Participants will understand the importance of developing and maintaining a professional network, identify and reach out to individuals, groups, communities, and organizations internal to the institution, identify and reach out to individuals, groups, communities, and organizations external to the institution, and establish, maintain, and promote understanding and effective relationships with those that have a significant interest in or potential effect on students or other constituents served by programs and services in the department.

Planning Your Next Professional Move: Participants will identify their personal professional goals for career advancement, create a career advancement plan that includes next steps in their education, professional development, and job search preparation, and understand the role of mentoring, coaching and networking in career advancement.

NOTE: The San Marcos Student Affairs Professional Development Program content is based on the CSUSM Student Affairs Professional Development Initiative Recommendations (Spring 2015), the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education General Standards (2014), ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators (2015), the CSUSM Student Affairs Divisional Survey (Dec. 2013), and the Student Affairs Leadership Team Survey (Feb. 2016).