The History of NASPA

Founded in 1918 by six men at the University of Wisconsin, NASPA has grown to become a diverse international organization with over 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and in 8 U.S. territories.

What would eventually become known as NASPA was originally dreamt up by Dean Robert Rienow and Dean Thomas Arkle Clark in December 1918 and founded in January 1919 as the “Conference of Deans and Advisers of Men.” Dean Scott Goodnight hosted the meeting at the University of Wisconsin and would be retroactively named NASPA’s first president. This successful first meeting would spawn an annual gathering of deans.

Milestones in NASPA History

  • 1918 First meeting of the founding members occurred in Fall 1918 to discuss establishing a group to support student personnel at colleges and universities.
  • 1919 NASPA, then known as the Conference of Deans and Advisers of Men, is founded.
  • 1929 CDAM is renamed the National Association of Deans and Advisers of Men (NADAM.)
  • 1951 NADAM is renamed the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA.)
  • 1967 First permanent NASPA office is created in Detroit, MI.
  • 1974 NASPA Foundation is established.
  • 1975 Channing Briggs named first Executive Director of NASPA.
  • 1976 Alice Manicur is the first female elected NASPA President.
  • 1985 Bob E. Leach is the first ethnic-minority elected NASPA President.
  • 1989 NASPA Networks formed, would later become the current Knowledge Communities.
  • 1989 NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program founded.
  • 1996 Institutes and Symposiums provided new professional development opportunities for members.
  • 1999 Doris Ching is the first female ethnic-minority elected NASPA President.
  • 2005 International representation reaches 30 members.
  • 2012 NASPA Board Chair established and the first NASPA President was hired.

In 1929, the name was formally changed to the National Association of Deans and Advisers of Men (NADAM) and was constituted as a formal organization and saw increased growth throughout the 30s and 40s. An identity crisis about the role the organization played leading to a name change in 1951 to the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) reflecting the broader role and actively began seeking members.  The purpose of the expanded association was "to discuss and study the most effective methods of aiding students in their intellectual, social, moral, and personal development."

Over the next 60 years, NASPA became the organization that it is today. The concept of the Regions was formalized in the 1960s to create a local way for members to meet, network and support their roles on campus.  In 1976, Alice Manicur was elected as the first female President, followed by the first minority president, Bob E. Leach, in 1985. Finally, the permanent national office was first established at Portland State University and moved from Oregon to Ohio and finally arrived in Washington, DC. In 2000, the NASPA Networks evolved into Knowledge Communities in order to create and disseminate knowledge to student affairs professionals throughout the world.

By 2013, NASPA has firmly established itself as the leading student affairs association thanks to the variety of programs and offerings, professional staff, and, most importantly, the continue support of its leadership and members.

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