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Sandeen (1991) and, later, Winston, Creamer, Miller, and Associates (2001) describe the primary role of student affairs personnel as being educators. They further identify collaboration between student affairs and the faculty to be a key way in which this educational role is to be accomplished. However, there exists bifurcated understanding of student development, with faculty being responsible for intellectual development and student affairs professionals being responsible for psychosocial development.
Much attention has been given to the relationship between academic and student affairs, the role of each, and the potential that collaboration between the two offers in the achievement of developmental goals and student learning outcomes. Yet despite a seeming consensus on the need for integration and collaboration, even a cursory review of journals and trade publications in the field of student affairs will yield clues that all is not well in the relationship between faculty members and student affairs personnel on many campuses. A common theme expressed in this literature is a concern on the part of student affairs personnel is that they are not viewed as serious and legitimate participants, or educators, in the learning process by the faculty (for example: King, 1993; Kuh, 1996; Miller & Bender, 2009).
This study explores, using a single-site case study methodology, faculty perceptions of the role and function of student affairs personnel, focusing on the educator role of student affairs as described by Sandeen (1991) and, later, Winston et al. (2001). The environment of a small college in the southeastern United States was used as a context to depict, qualitatively, the day-to-day experiences and perceptions of faculty members with regard to the role and functions of the student affairs personnel. Using that qualitative depiction, this study then examines the scope and nature of the relationship between the academic affairs and student affairs units, with a particular focus on issues and challenges to collaboration, and offers recommendations to address those issues and challenges.
Advisor: James O’Hanlon