NASPA in China

Since the summer of 2015, NASPA’s global reach has extended to China due to its developing relationships with two institutions in Shanghai, Fudan University and the Shanghai Students Moral Education Development Center. The initiatives stemming from these relationships are designed to promote cooperation between these institutions and NASPA and among student affairs professionals in China and the United States. Cooperative projects include: organizing two international conferences on student affairs held in Shanghai in 2015 and 2017; translating NASPA books and online offerings into Mandarin for a Chinese audience; hosting a Shanghai-based student affairs professional as an intern in the NASPA offices; and building exchange opportunities to allow Shanghai-based professionals to live and learn at US institutions.

During the past year, NASPA cooperated deeply with Fudan University to build the 2017 International Conference on Student Affairs, which was held earlier this summer in Shanghai, China. NASPA was pleased to be able to send a delegation comprised of eight volunteers and staff to contribute content to the two-day international conference that drew participants from China, the US, the UK, Russia, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong (China), and Macau (China). NASPA delegates represented the Association well through their contributions to workshops, panel discussions, keynote addresses, and roundtable sessions on topics including accountability and student success, intercultural and global competencies for student affairs professionals, legal issues in student affairs, developing strategic partnerships, experiential learning, and more.

We asked the NASPA delegates to share some reflections on their experiences in China. They did not disappoint!

The necessity of global and intersectional work in student affairs was revealed during our visit to Shanghai. We were privy to diverse strategies to negotiate the changing landscape of global higher education. Although many of the presentations revealed unique cultural contexts, it was clear that our institutions share more similarities than differences. As a result, I am optimistic about our future partnerships across the globe as we seek to improve our programs and services.

– Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life, Emory University

On the global stage of student affairs and services, the concept of professionalization is embraced regularly, and has been a primary theme of this international conference in Shanghai. It would be great to see specific strides toward what the concept of professionalization means for those in countries where individuals doing work with and for students are not necessarily tied together nor is student affairs and services recognized as a stand-alone profession. If desired by these individuals, and appropriate for the institution(s) and cultural mores, defining what that concept might be, would be a powerful step toward achieving the goal. Identifying milestones, barriers, and resource requirements could assist in moving past discussion to action toward the end of professionalizing.

– Brett Perozzi, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Weber State University

I was very grateful to attend the 2017 Fudan University International Conference on Student Affairs. Like any international experience, this chance to interact with individuals from other parts of the world was enlightening and invigorating. But it always means a little more when you get to share experiences with other professionals in the same field, doing the same work. 

In the true sense of globalization, it was clear that the issues students are facing are the same no matter where and on which hemisphere they attend college. We have much to learn from each other, especially because our students travel and study between countries. As professionals, sharing lessons learned, best practices, and skilled knowledge, was a wonderful way to spend 1 ½ days. I’m only sorry it wasn’t longer!

– Karen Pennington, Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life, Montclair State University

My experience as a member of the NASPA delegation resulted in my growth both professionally and personally that can only be described as happening in “dog years”. There is no way to describe seeing literally hundreds of commercial and residential high rises in various stages of development littering the horizon and although I knew a bit about China’s economic development, there really was no way for me to be prepared to find a similar growth happening in the higher education sector of the country. In just three days I gained new colleagues from across the globe and developed a greater understanding of the collective challenges facing all of higher education. While, this was my first trip to this beautiful country, I trust it will not be my last. Xie Xie!

– Sandy Johnson, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Rochester Institute of Technology

The International Conference on Student Affairs in Shanghai highlighted the dedication that Student Affairs professionals worldwide give to enhancing the student experience. I was struck by the similarity between the issues that we (U.S. based Student Affairs teams) and our counter-parts in China are grappling to solve. An unexpected conversation that surfaced in the session on Developing Internal and External Community Partners was the interest on the part of students and professional staff to find a way to give credit for, and legitimize the important work that students are engaged in outside the classroom. This led to a robust conversation about co-curricular transcripts. The Chinese Delegation was intrigued by the idea and thrilled to learn that others also believed that these important experiences should be documented and had developed a solution. NASPA’s recent work in guiding student affairs professions regarding co-curricular transcripts ensures that we are leading the efforts to provide our students with the best records possible.

– Kathryn Hutchinson, Vice President for Student Affairs, St. John’s University

It was quite a wonderful experience to be in Shanghai talking about the work that we love. I must admit, I was a little nervous going in wondering how much of a connection there would be between the work that I do with students and how it might be different in China. From the start of the program, it was clear that students are students and that our international colleagues are also interested in identifying specific learning outcomes from our work and finding ways to assess the impact of our work. It was very rewarding to know that their higher education student affairs folks were anxious to learn from us as they continue to focus on their students’ lives outside of the classroom. My favorite part was interacting with the students who were delightful hosts and interpreters.

– Deb Moriarty, Vice President for Student Affairs, Towson University