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. We invite you to explore the complete history of NASPA at history.naspa.org.

Milestones in NASPA History

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.