From the President's Desk

Dear Colleague,

Thank you so much for being part of the ACPA 2015 Convention experience.  Whether you were physically in Tampa, on-line with our new ACPA Video On Demand Digital Pass or engaging via social media (#ACPA15, #SAThanks and more), your voice and energy were important and valued as part of the experience for everyone.  We learned a lot together.

In spite of major weather delays and cancellations, 2900 people were able to engage with one another in Tampa in more than 658 sessions including live streams of the opening and closing sessions with:

  • Eboo Patel
  • Jose Antonio Vargas
  • Steph Hammerman
  • Stephen Quaye
  • Jamie Washington
  • Laverne Cox
  • Gavin Henning

And, there were so many session choices that it was really hard to choose… 

George Kuh and Jillian Kinzie were spot-on in their discussion of the Degree Qualifications Profile  and the future of assessment in student affairs.  Our Presidential Panel was comprised exclusively of university senior administrators who came to those roles through student affairs administration. They shared extraordinary insight about the stark differences in the two roles and made strong cases for proactive cross-disciplinary engagement by student affairs professionals with academic affairs and faculty personnel.

Forty people completed certificates of participation in Law & Policy & Title IX.  Seventy-seven undergrads attended NextGen including new members from Tribal Colleges.

We celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma, the launch of our new ACPA Video On Demand Series Confronting the Reality of Racism in the Academy  and the contributions of more than 200 members at our Awards Ceremony. 

More than 40 Ambassadors infused their enthusiasm and passion for our field into events throughout Convention and Faculty Pay It Forward friends were  excited to engage in dialogue at the Thought Leaders gathering.

There were multiple opportunities for face-to-face dialogue and feedback about “how we are doing” as an Association, areas where we are doing well and places where we need to improve. We want to share the information gathered from those sessions as well as unscheduled opportunities to engage with one another (see below).

And, don’t forget to use Tell Us on our website ( to add anything new at any time or call Cindi Love directly at 972-358-5907 or Tweet at @drcindilove. 

When the surveys for Convention are complete, we will share that information with you as well.  More than 900 people have completed surveys at the time of this posting.

Thank you!

Gavin Henning, President
Donna Lee, Vice-President
Kent Porterfield, Past President
Cindi Love, Executive Director



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing, and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.



Sometimes feedback feels really great and sometimes it feels difficult to absorb.  Either way, we are committed to the conversations and continuous improvement.  Thank you so much for telling us what you think and feel.  

We want to begin with the feedback that we received in the unscheduled moments at Convention.  One of these opportunities was during an event created by the T* Circle.  In addition, an open letter was shared with some Convention attendees and members by the T*Circle.  It is a blog post.  Please take time to review it.

We also collected thoughts and responses from members during our hallway conversations, in regular sessions, in the Town Hall and Leadership Conversation Hour.  These are summarized below with some of our most current processing of the feedback within the Leadership and staff teams.

How was the decision made to go to Montréal in 2016?

A:  The Governing Board for 2012-2013 approved the selection of Montréal as the location for ACPA’s 2016 Annual Convention.

The choice to go to Montréal was made in accordance with the globalization recommendations in the Strategic Plan adopted in 2011. Members contributed hundreds of ideas for the Strategic Plan and the idea that we need to “lean into” our commitments to international students and globalization were part of those recommendations. 

Over the past 24 months, ACPA leaders have been guided in their continuing work by three Association documents: The 2013-2016 ACPA Strategic Plan; The ACPA Globalization Strategic Plan and the ACPA Recruitment and Retention Plan.

These require intentional strategies for globalization in alignment with our organization's valuing of cross cultural competence, diversity and inclusiveness which bridge needs of professionals across institutional types, institutional control, and institutional locales.  

These goals compel all of us to challenge and change US centric practices and, by extension, choice of event locations. We must now see our border crossings as opportunities to practice cultural diplomacy as well as advocacy at the contested intersections of many social and political issues--immigration, treatment of women and other groups for whom human rights are less afforded by dominant groups. 

Several of our leaders are deeply engaged in work with global institutions at the center of this dialogue about human dignity and we deeply value the understanding and recommendations they are bringing to ACPA's evolution as an association within the sphere of global higher education.  

Although we are incomplete in our own work, we are awake to the many possibilities for improvement. 

Montréal was not chosen to exclude people, but rather to include many more people, to inform, raise awareness and educate about accessibility and accountability in higher education and global society for all.  

Q:  What about challenges for Trans* identified members trying to enter Canada?

A: Some persons who are Trans* identified and who have not completed medical transition may be refused entry to Montréal if these individuals challenge border officials to accept the birth marker on their passports relative when compared to photographs and current expression. 

It is important to note that border crossing for Trans* identified persons is not seamless coming into the US. Similar constraints apply.

Our decision to go to Montréal in 2016 for our Annual Convention may result for other non-trans identified individuals being refused travel visas by Québec just as some individuals from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have long been refused entry to the US for our conventions even with visa support by ACPA. 

We recognize that events held in the US have historically not and do not now offer access for everyone.  

For many years, the United States prohibited border crossing for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS as well as refusing travel visas and immigration applications for individuals from many nations.  This remains true for some non-US citizens even though those living with HIV are no longer restricted.  

The same is true for some Native People in sovereign nations in the US who present sovereign credentials. 

Q:  What about challenges for undocumented persons living in the US who attempt to enter Canada?

A: Persons living in the US as undocumented citizens may need to choose to enter Canada using their citizenship documents from their respective non-US country or may choose to attend Convention with a digital pass to avoid the potential risk of rejection at the Canadian border or exposing themselves to risk of detection at the US border.

One of our speakers at the Tampa 2015 Convention, Jose Antonio Vargas, has been arrested in the past by US authorities for his undocumented status while attending a meeting in McAllen, Texas. Our choice to engage him as a speaker was part of our advocacy for undocumented persons. There is no current protection for undocumented residents of the US who do not have green cards, student, religious worker, visitor or other types of visas.

ACPA has never required documentation of citizenship for membership or attendance of any event.  It is not our intent to do so.  All are welcome and we will provide letters needed for visa applications  for visitors for educational purposes beginning March 2015 until the cut off date established by Canada (probably December 2015).

International students attending universities in the United States need to contact the Border Official Office in Québec before entering the country to ensure that they can freely return to the United States. Visitor or visa status in the U.S. is not automatically transferrable to any nation. 

Q:  ACPA seems to lack substantive representation by Trans* identified persons in leadership positions or on staff.  This seems to also be the case in Trans* identified persons leading sessions at Convention.

A: Over the last 90+ years, ACPA has been challenged to increase representation in all of these areas by underserved and underrepresented individuals and groups. In most cases, we responded well in advance of our peer associations.  This does not mean that we always responded without advocates and activists pointing the way before we were awake to the opportunity.  Persons who identify with underserved groups have, however, consistently been asked to serve and have served on convention teams, leadership teams of all types, and as speakers and presenters. 

We welcome and appreciate colleagues who bring “disruptive” and respectful ideas raised by social justice educators, advocates and activists in our midst. Student affairs professionals are “disrupters” of the norms on campuses and, therefore, we expect and express gratitude for these opportunities in our Association.  We are an organization dedicated to developing pathways to leadership and participation for all members who wish to serve and we do not discriminate in employment on any basis.  

We do not require any individual to self-identify in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, gender expression, age, size, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, sovereign nation status or differing ability to run for an office, serve on a Commission or Standing Committee, Task Force or Institute or Convention committee nor apply for employment. 

We do ask for this information and, when provided, take it into account in extending a call for participation if there are clear indicators of underrepresentation.  This is always challenging when there are fewer individuals representing a particular group as in the case of indigenous, First Nation or Native People, Trans* identified and more.  And, the field of student affairs is not large, so the pool of prospective applicants is further diminished.

Twelve employees and two contractors staff the International Office. Two identify as African American. One identifies as Native American, one as Eastern Indian, one as Latina.  Eight members identify as “white.” Two identify as gender-queer or Trans*.

Our employment of non-white and non-gender or sexual orientation dominant culture individuals aligns with our goals for outreach and advocacy on educational issues of concern in American postsecondary settings as well as higher education and tertiary education abroad.  We do not currently employ any individuals who are differently abled by federal definition.

While we do not set “compositional or structural” goals that can be tokenizing, we are absolutely committed to effective representation for all member voices in all areas. 

We will continue to improve. Based on a request from members to have “numerical” data about representation, we will now ask all elected leaders and all Commission, Standing Committee and Task Force participants to volunteer their identification in terms of race and ethnicity as well as gender expression/identity and sexual orientation.

We accept and actively engage the challenge of programming from the perspective of members who are most challenged by the current state of social, political, educational, religious, ability, legal restrictions and freedoms in the world. We grieve when we are less skillful than we should and can be and we learn and reset. 

We hope our members will continue to respectfully confront areas of deficiency just as they would choose to do on their campuses.   

ACPA wants to provide thought leadership on the issues of inclusion for our members who are growing and increasing in their understanding and cultural competency.  There are no human beings who have perfected the capacity to navigate all difference.  And, we are humbled by the opportunity. 

Thank you.