When There Are Three

naspa avp steering committee

Keegan Nicholas, Dennis King, Kenton Olliff

July 25, 2017

The AVP position is a unique role as you provide expertise and campus representation to allow your VPSA focus on the higher priorities. The AVP provides leadership for the departments, which shapes the direction of the division. If you are on a campus with numerous AVPs, it makes your role exciting, yet challenging and the importance of partnerships become even more important. It is important that all of the AVPs understand the VPSA vision, direction, and work well together to implement that vision.

Enrollment Management AVP:

My alarm goes off at 6:55 am (ugh), and before I leave the warmth of the bed, I open my phone to check our daily “6085 reports.”  Those two 6085 reports will hold the key to my day, week, semester, and current recruiting cycle.  Within the reports are the overall student enrollment data, broken down by classifications, colleges, and the delivery modalities of on-campus, online, and international.  Why are they called 6805, I have no clue!  I process the report’s information during my shower, analyzing our plan and the data, then reprioritize the day’s tasks, including the ones I didn’t get done yesterday (and probably won't get done today). 

After taking two of the five kids to the east side of town, my wife taking those attending the schools on the west side (I contemplate enrolling all five of them at the university, even the one's elementary school), I arrive at the office to quickly get organized and address any immediate crisis. That's the morning for most of us in Enrollment Management, a life governed by the numbers.

Thankfully, it is Thursday.  The day I have the privilege to attend our standing Student Affairs Leadership Team (SALT).  This meeting, along with my unit's Directors Meeting, is the sources of my personal "re-booting" process.  The students and other colleagues give me enthusiasm; the SALT meetings give me focus, purpose, and comradery.

 Student Life AVP:

My alarm goes off at 4:45 AM where I jump up and drive to the gym for a HITT or Yoga class. After class, I come home to check emails and prepare for the day. My day is always different with early morning discussion about student leaders, conduct hearings, BIT meetings, Title IX reports, checking on food service contract, calling China for academic misconduct hearings, and hoping we fill all of our residence hall beds. The life of the student life sector of student affairs is fun and never the same day twice!

Thankfully, it’s Thursday and I know at 7:30 a.m. I will grab coffee with the other AVPs and we can touch base on what is going on in our areas, what we need to accomplish for the day, or just vent about whatever is going on. Working with an amazing team has help us all be better and see different perspectives.

Student Support Services AVP

I wake up before my alarm goes off most mornings.  In the night I wake three or four times and think of things I have to do the next day or week.  I then think about how, as a clinical counselor, I tell people who can’t sleep to write down what is going through their minds.  Then I decide I should practice what I preach.  When I finally get out of bed, I head for the shower and think about what is positive in my life.  After my shower I turn on the news and get a quick view of what is going on in the world.       

I then head for campus between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. to review email and check out my schedule for the day.  Along with administrative meetings my day also includes a few counseling sessions, as my office is located in the counseling center and I still do some clinical work.  My counseling work has a way of keeping me balanced and in touch with what is going on in student lives.  As head of student support services it is important for me to know what our students need to be successful.

It’s Thursday for all of us and our boss walks in and points to safe zone sticker. He sits down and tells us the happenings at the university and in the state. The greatest part of our senior leadership team is that we get to have regular meetings to keep informed about each cluster and how we can better work together. Our boss challenges us to find ways to help each other, so people feel inspired and empowered to do their jobs creatively and with best practices.

Our Tips Working with More Than One AVP

Our job is to help our direct reports better work together across the division as well as the campus community as a whole. Some of the tips we have that have helped us make this work include:

·         It is not a competition we understand our roles. We understand that each of us has busy times and each of us needs support at some point.

·         We not only respect each other’s expertise, but also use it to our advantage. Often we call on each other to review a specific situation or speak at an event.

·         We honor what needs to be confidential. Two of the AVPs have spouses in each other’s cluster; we make sure that we discuss anything in that area with caution, respect, and candor. We know that nothing leaves the room.

·         We have honest candor about what we observe outside the cluster and give each other feedback. Feedback is welcome and respected. 

·         Most importantly to talk openly amongst with each and trust each other. Without trust it would be difficult to discuss certain issues comfortably.  Trust is essential to be able to get things done and be open to each other’s ideas.   

Having multiple AVPs can be a tremendous support system and make work a lot of fun. If you have more than one AVP on your campus, enjoy the support you have.  

Dr. Keegan Nichols: Vice President for Student Services, Arkansas Tech University (formerly Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Fort Hays State University)

 Dr. Kenton Olliff: Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Fort Hays State University

 Dr. Dennis King: Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Fort Hays State University

Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NASPA. If you agree or disagree with the content of this post, we encourage you to dialogue in the comment section below. NASPA reserves the right to remove any blog that is inaccurate or offensive.

To comment, you can login to your preferred social network. Comments are lightly moderated and we do provide the option for users to flag a comment as inappropriate.

Get in Touch with NASPA