Student affairs, academic affairs and the institutional mission: administrator perceptions at a research university
Factors such as changing student demographics, economic conditions, the emphasis on degree completion, technology, increased accountability, and an increased focus on student learning are changing the face of higher education. These changing conditions can be viewed as threatening, or as an opportunity for units to respond strategically and advance the institutional mission. The role of the academic affairs unit has not wavered because the unit’s day-to-day work directly serves the institutional mission (Helfgot, 2005). However, student affairs units undergo pressure to show relevance in order to thrive in the changing environment. Understanding a collective interpretation of the role of student affairs work, how it relates to the role of academic affairs work, the intersections between the two units, and how all of this relates to furthering the institutional mission, is critical for the future of student affairs activity. There is limited research about academic and student affairs units in relation to the institutional mission. More specifically, there is little research involving administrator perspectives regarding this topic. Through case study research design, this dissertation explores the relationship between academic and student affairs units and what this relationship means for furthering the institutional mission. Using the institutional mission as the center for the discussion, this dissertation provides an in-depth understanding of how key administrators perceive the work of and relationship between academic and student affairs units. In addition, this dissertation identifies strategies to develop collaboration between academic and student affairs units in order to achieve the institutional mission. Based on the findings, this study provides key information to effectively initiate collaboration and ultimately consider the work of student affairs units as mission central.