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Student Affairs and Technology - Why Must We Wear So Many Hats
August 30, 2011 - 1:45pm

Should the student affairs professional who is responsible for your assessment efforts also be in charge of your communications strategy? That is the question that I have been asking myself ever since I came upon a recent job listing on Inside Higher Ed. Having read the evaluations from my student affairs communications webinar, I can say without hesitation that most schools would love to have split roles if possible. However, budget restrictions and administrative support often hamper the abilities of student affairs divisions to have dedicated assessment and communications personnel.

As I've frequently shared, I am a big fan of using RSS to find out about student affairs job postings. While I am not currently in the market for a new position, I do like to keep track of student affairs position listings. The emergence of new trends, titles, functional areas, etc. is something that I find to be quite intriguing. My Google Reader RSS feed folder for student affairs jobs always showcases an interesting array of positions.

The position description for the Director of Student Affairs Assessment & Administration (DSAAA) job opening at Babson College immediately caught my eye. It contains a mammoth amount of positional responsibilities. That is to be expected at a smaller school. With less than 2,000 undergraduate students, Babson College does not need to have a gigantic student affairs division to serve their students. It is not surprising for a position such as the DSAAA to include a vast variety of occupational requirements. However, as I was perusing the description, I kept thinking to myself that this job will require an 80 hour work week. To do assessment really well in student affairs takes time. To develop and implement strategic communications, including social media strategies, takes time.

I must say that I love all of the elements within this job, but I am not sure if one person can adequately do everything that is listed as "essential." In fact, I know of less than 5 professionals who would even have the necessary skills, experience, and abilities to apply for the job. Note that I am not saying that Babson College has done anything wrong by including so many "hats" in this job. I am sure that Babson College is doing the best that they can with the resources that they have available.

However, I have to question why we, as a profession, consistently and constantly critique our "too many hats" problem, while simultaneously causing our professional hat racks to overflow? Sometimes I wonder if we have to create such loaded position descriptions as a way of getting approval for funding them.

I realize that for many student affairs units, it is just not fiscally possible to have a director of assessment and a director of communications. Unfortunately, for those schools that combine assessment with communications, my guess is that they end up hiring someone who is either really good at assessment or really good at communications.

Context is important for any "hat" conversation, but in general, should someone be in charge of assessment and communications for a student affairs division? What do you think?

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