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Working at CSU

Felix, Donovan share expertise globally

May 2, 2014

Oscar Felix, associate vice president for Enrollment, Access and Diversity/executive director of the Access Center and Jody Donovan, assistant vice president for Student Affairs/dean of students traveled to the United Arab Emirates this spring to serve as faculty for a two-day NASPA International Student Services Institute (NISSI) in Al Ain, UAE.

The NISSI is a customized learning program to teach key competencies in critical student affairs areas to student affairs professionals around the world. Felix and Donovan focused on assessment and research, personal foundations of student affairs, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Adapting U.S.-based competencies to the Emirati cultural context was challenging, however, the 35 participants discerned and integrated relevant content to inform their professional practice and added terrific insights and examples from their Gulf Region colleges and universities.

A collaborative project

The NISSI is a collaborative project between NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) and CSU’s Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate program. In addition to their administrative positions, Jody and Oscar teach in the SAHE program, preparing student affairs professionals to serve in a variety of student service areas, from residence life, career development, academic advising, and student conduct. Student Affairs is a relatively young but well-established profession in the United States, however, it is in the beginning stages in many areas of the world.  Because Colorado State University’s SAHE program is nationally recognized for its scholar/practitioner faculty members, we were delighted to be a founding partner with NASPA for this innovative program. Donovan served as the first NISSI faculty for the Hong Kong Student Services Association last year, and Felix served as a NISSI faculty in Abu Dhabi in February 2013.

NASPA Conference

Following the NISSI, Donovan and Felix participated in the 8th Annual NASPA Gulf Region Conference. Participants traveled from Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and other surrounding countries. The exchange of ideas and practices was robust and instructive as the issues Gulf region student affairs professionals struggle with mirror many of our challenges in the U.S., including motivating students, supporting students’ career development, and learning in and out of the classroom.  Oscar and Jody presented a conference session on Generations X, Y & Z where participants identified similar generational shifts and characteristics of students in their region. The dialogue brought to light that the Internet is making the world smaller removing barriers and blending cultural practices.

Up next

The next NISSI is scheduled for mid-May in Croatia. Because this Institute overlaps with CSU’s graduation, CSU affiliate faculty Randy Hyman will be serving as the NISSI faculty member. Plans are also underway for a NISSI in Pakistan.  Donovan and Felix are looking forward to this adventure as well as helping educate and prepare higher education leaders to better meet the holistic needs of their students.