Making Room for Change Within Student Affairs

The pace of innovation.

September 22, 2013

Would you say that the pace of innovation within Student Affairs has been fast, slow, or consistent? Maybe it's been a little bit of all three? I think it's easy to talk about pushing student affairs to be more innovative, but that wouldn't be fair to those areas where we have made vast improvements. Functional areas from residence life, student conduct, academic advising, financial aid, and international programs have all been innovative in their own way. Perhaps the perception of a slow innovation path in the field has more to do with top-down communications, transparency, and the never-ending mantra of doing more with less. It is easy to lose track of just how much we have changed when we're working at 110%.

When I think about what it means to make room for innovation within student affairs, I ruminate on the perception of how we use our time. Position descriptions are usually jam-packed with specific responsibilities. Rarely do you see a job within student affairs that has time for experimentation and idea generation built into it. Innovation usually takes place due to mandates and the lightbulb moments that we all experience. However, what if we were intentional about making space for innovation? Frame it as a generative endeavor that could incubate with purpose. In fact, when was the last time that your division took a look at its structure and talked about what it means to make room for change?

Organizational change can be quite thrilling. Some might call that thrill exciting, while others might label it as terrifying. Regardless of your definition, change within higher education is constant. How are you making room for change?


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