The CAS Professional Standards: A timeless resource becomes a new book from NASPA, CAS, and ACPA
The CAS Professional Standards are incredibly helpful for a variety of purposes - from guiding assessment to supporting program development. For 38 years, the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) has led the way in cultivating quality practice for higher education professionals. During those years, the number of member organizations has grown from 11 to 42, assessment has become an expectation of professional practice, and the philosophical perspective of the organization has evolved. Originally, the standards and CAS self-study process were framed as prescriptive, whereas now they are understood as tools with flexibility and diverse utility. One of the reasons that we put together our new text, Using the CAS Professional Standards: Diverse Examples of Practice, is because we saw a need to highlight both traditional and innovative ways the standards are being used. Additionally, we wanted to focus on the variety of contexts, functional areas, and approaches in which the standards can be used.
As Yancey states in the text, “The CAS standards offer guidelines for practice, yet they are flexible enough to respond to nuances of institutional structure, diversity of functional area design, and other unique contexts” (Gulley, 2017, p. 134). We believe the CAS standards are more living than stagnant. They exist in relation to the ever-changing landscape of higher education and, as such, they must be used with consideration of time, place, institutional mission, political climate, and other non-fixed factors. Representatives to the CAS Board review each standard on a rotating basis, updating them on an ongoing cycle. This helps keep the standards relevant to the larger higher education arena, but it cannot address the other factors that must be considered when using the standards in a local setting. These considerations must be reviewed by individuals at the institutional level; therefore, utilization and interpretation of the standards must be carried out with thoughtful intentionality and an ethic of care, balancing the integrity of the standards with the local context.
As you consider using the CAS Professional Standards on your campus, our book may help you in discovering new avenues for utilization. Additionally, it might assist you in validating those uses to others within your institution. “As you engage with the standards, be creative, be thoughtful, and be focused on how you can improve your practice” (Gulley, 2017, p. 139).
Gulley, N. Y. (2017). The CAS approach: Diverse examples, multiple lessons. In Gulley, N. Y., Dean, S. R., & Dean, L. A. (Eds.), Using the CAS Professional Standards: Diverse examples of practice (pp. 133-139). Washington, DC: NASPA, ACPA, and CAS.