In December 1918 Robert Rienow, the dean of men at the University of Iowa, wrote a letter to Thomas Arkle Clark, dean of men at the University of Illinois, suggesting a meeting that is now recognized as the founding of the NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The meeting was held at the University of Wisconsin in January 1919, with six men present. In attendance were three deans of men and three professors having campus interests of this type but no title.
In reporting on the first meeting, Professor Louis A. Strauss of the University of Michigan referred to it as the Conference of Deans and Advisers of Men. This label became popular and was used until 1929 when it was modified as the National Association of Deans and Advisers of Men (NADAM). The title was apt because the dean of men's title was not widespread on the American college campus at that time. Thomas Arkle Clark was the first person to claim the title in 1909, although he assumed the responsibilities in 1901.
Scott Goodnight, dean of men at the University of Wisconsin, served as host for this historic first meeting. Retroactively, he is referred to as the first president of NADAM. Actually, he was selected as chairman during the meeting, a kind of incidental formality not seen at the time as having any significance. The success of this meeting, as participants agreed, suggested that another should be held, with invitations extended to anyone who might be interested. It is clear that the second meeting was pivotal to the life of the organization. Held on the University of Illinois campus with an attendance of nine, it was decided that future meetings should occur annually on the campus of one of the members. A committee of three was named to handle arrangements. Short papers for discussion were introduced as a supplement to the informal discussions; the latter being seen by participants as the primary value in meeting.
Informal conversations concerning the role of the dean of men were extremely important to participants because many of them were recently appointed and had no firm grasp of what to expect. Dean Clark once said, "It was an untried sea upon which I was about to set sail." C.E. Edmondson, a physician who was dean of men at Indiana University, noted that when he was appointed dean of men his president talked to Dean Clark, "as perhaps he could tell me what a dean of men was." Shop talk at meetings for several years helped in this respect, there being little "theory" to consider. Shop talk should not be equated with small talk, however, as participants regularly commented on the inspiration they received from the annual meetings. War stories from the home campus also were common, and stories were apparently colorfully told. No record of much of what went on in the long informal discussion exists; but participants were highly educated men, scholars in their own right, having strong spiritual roots and a clear idea of how young men should conduct themselves. The tools at their disposal were indeed primitive; they consulted with each other as a means of mutual education.
It was 1925 when the first piece of "research" was offered at a NADAM meeting. The summary was presented by John Bennett of Teachers College, Columbia University, and dealt with the prevalence of the office of dean of men in American colleges and universities together with the recognized duties and powers of the office. By 1928, one can find "A Statistical Study of the Relationship Between Extra Curricular Activities and Scholarship" offered by Dean Earl Miller of UCLA.
The last meeting of the '20s was the first to be conducted away from the college campus. The conference was held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., with 76 men attending. Members paid dues of $10.
The 1930s marked the development of the first formal constitution of NADAM. The institutional membership was established in 1932, giving each institution one vote but extending an invitation to as many representatives as an institution might wish to send. The constitution also called for a seven-man executive committee. Any educational institution was eligible for membership upon acceptance by the executive committee. Records do not reveal any rejections for membership.
In 1932, The Counselor made a brief and inauspicious appearance to be followed over the years with continued requests for publications. The NASPA Journal, as it appears today, was not introduced until 1963. In the meantime, several newsletters found their way to members, with different names at different times. Perhaps the most familiar of these was The Breeze.
As early as the 1920s, NADAM played a valuable placement role for its members. A network of informal contacts helped newer members become alert to job possibilities across the country. Dean Arno "Shorty" Nowotny of the University of Texas played a key role in this activity for many years. This was a valuable tool during the Depression; the placement function continues today as an important function of the association's efforts to assist its members.
The organization grew slowly, with 87 in attendance in 1939. This was somewhat disconcerting to those who enjoyed the small group informality of earlier meetings. Efforts to continue the informality were introduced, grouping deans for part of the annual conference into small/medium/large institution meetings.
Change was in the air as many deans in attendance were not called either "deans of men" or "advisers to men." A speech in 1937 by W.H. Cowley, entitled "The Disappearing Dean of Men," emphasized that change would accelerate. Among Cowley's accurate perceptions was his understanding of the emergence of the dean of students as the central officer of the future in student affairs.
One of NADAM's major preoccupations in the 1940s was World War II and its aftermath. The adaptation of campuses to the war effort are reflected in the conference minutes, and the problems relating to veterans once the war was over took the rest of the decade. Members still found time to comment often about the "role" problem of NADAM. Over 30 different "titles" of attending administrators were counted at one conference, suggesting a broader role for NADAM was required. The decade was noted by the presence of Armour Blackburn of Howard University, the first black administrator to participate and the only one to serve on a NADAM executive committee. In 1949, the annual meeting reached 217, passing 200 for the first time.
Dean Wesley P. Lloyd at Brigham Young University led the way in 1951 to the creation of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Having been defeated in two earlier votes (1948 and 1949), this time the recommended name change passed; nearly unanimously. This broadened the base of the association and for the first time it began actively to seek members. Until 1951 no one had ever been recruited by the association. Members were free to encourage colleagues to join but the association sent no invitations to American college campuses. The purpose of the expanded association was stated to be "to discuss and study the most effective methods of aiding students in their intellectual, social, moral, and personal development."
Women in NASPA
It was now clear that women eventually would seek membership in the organization that now promoted itself as the professional home for chief student affairs professionals and their principal assistants. Seven years later, Mary Ethel Ball, acting dean of students at the University of Colorado, became the first female "institutional representative" of NASPA. (It may be an interesting footnote to history to indicate that a Dean Blitz at the University of Minnesota is remembered as the first woman to attend a NADAM/NASPA meeting in 1926. She was a guest of Dean E.E. Nicholson when the conference met in Minneapolis.)
Women administrators did not immediately decide to participate in NASPA. The "old boy" reputation was on the one hand unfair because young administrators were always encouraged in NADAM/NASPA. Of course, historically only the "boys" were present, and women apparently were concerned about how they would fare in a previously all-male organization.
Five commissions were established at the 1951 conference to deal with substantive, ongoing issues (e.g., professional relationships, ethics, professional preparation). A secondary benefit of the commissions was in making more members able to participate in the association's activities.
The remainder of the 1950s involved the development of the commission idea, the number reaching eight by 1959, and a continuation of conferences attempting to deal directly with the dean job. Conference attendance passed 300 in 1958. Dues were increased to $25 in 1959. The dues were solely for operating expenses, as no one received any compensation for work done in behalf of the association. Informality continued as an association hallmark. It was revealed at the 1959 meeting that no one had ever seen a copy of the constitution. It was acknowledged that none had been published for several years.
The 1960s marked many changes in NASPA. For the first time outside funding was secured for a NASPA activity. NASPA was an early leader in educating members concerning drug abuse, with funding obtained from the federal government. NASPA was an active participant in the development of the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students which the association then endorsed in 1968. From 1966 until the end of the decade and beyond, crisis was the most prominent campus issue and the most prominent association concern. Some deans were enormously successful in protecting both their campuses and rights of students, but disruption of campuses became more prevalent.
Regionalization and Inclusiveness
Almost unnoticed, the regionalization of NASPA occurred in the early 1960s when regional vice presidents emerged, eventually playing a dominant role in the executive committee. Seven vice presidents were elected, representing the six national accreditation regions (Region IV because of its size was divided into IV-East and IV-West). O.D. Roberts at Purdue University and Don Marsh at Wayne State University became NASPA's unpaid controllers, and in 1967 a national office was created in Detroit, Michigan.
The period 1965-75 could be called the pivotal decade for women in NASPA. Pat Cross, then of Cornell University, was the first woman appointed to the NASPA Executive Committee in 1966. Lenore Cole of American University was the first woman (and the first minority person) to be elected a regional vice president. In 1971 Chet Peters named Alice Manicur at Frostburg State College to the executive committee with a charge to establish a network with women colleagues across the nation, and to assure them that their participation would be acknowledged by the association. This was a successful effort in many ways, as today 45 percent of the NASPA membership is comprised of women.
Alice Manicur eventually became the first woman president of NASPA in 1976. Six years later, Mikell O'Donnell at Ohio State University became the second woman president. Other women who have served as president include Judith Chambers at the University of the Pacific (1986-87), Marsha Duncan at Lehigh University (1990-91), Joan Claar at DePauw University (1992-93), Paula Rooney at Babson College (1993-94), and Suzanne Gordon at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville (1996-97).
Minority members also sought a more inclusive voice during this period. The regionalization of NASPA heightened opportunities for involvement, and the executive committee used its at-large seats to give minority and women members increased national visibility. Opportunities to demonstrate leadership have led to a number of division chairs and regional vice presidencies, and in 1985 Bob E. Leach at Florida State University became NASPA's first minority president. James E. Scott at Georgia State University, was the second African-American to hold this office in 1994-95.
Community colleges began to make their presence felt in NASPA during the decade. George Young at Broward Community College was the first community college vice president to serve on the NASPA Executive Committee and to chair a national conference. In 1979 he became the first community college person to serve as president of NASPA. He was followed in 1981 by E.T. (Joe) Buchanan III at Tidewater Community College.
Dissatisfaction with the nominating process for NASPA presidents surfaced in the early 1970s. James R. Appleton at the University of Southern California was the first president elected in a contested race at the Philadelphia conference and James J. Rhatigan at Wichita State University was the first person elected in a mail ballot to the entire membership.
Beginnings of the Permanent Office
Among the hallmarks of NASPA's development was the selection of Channing M. Briggs as part-time controller in 1970, and the moving of the national office to Portland State University in that same year. Channing Briggs eventually became a full-time executive secretary with a small staff, and in 1975 was named the first executive director of NASPA. The Briggs period marked an important period both in growth and in the professional sophistication of NASPA as an organization.
Upon Briggs' retirement in 1981, Richard F. Stevens became the second executive director, and the national office was moved to Ohio State University. In 1985 the association voted to move its headquarters to Washington, D.C., and in June 1987 Elizabeth M. Nuss, dean of undergraduate life at Indiana University, succeeded Stevens as executive director. In 1995, Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy succeeded Nuss as NASPA's executive director.
Today NASPA has a Board of Directors, some 1,200 institutional and 11,000 individual members, seven regions with active programs, and a bright future. Perhaps all of this is due to six deans of students meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, 80 years ago.
continue to recent history (1995-2005)