Given the mission of Student Affairs is "to foster student success and a University community”, for nearly sixteen years, Nova Southeastern University has successfully brought this statement to life by dedicating itself to fostering young and passionate leaders through the College Student Affairs Master Degree Program.
The program was created by likeminded people who had a goal and a dream to unify the campus and increase the college-student experience. This program was created in the late 90’s and has left a lasting impression since its inception. Below presents a brief history of the program and its origin, complimented by comments and quotes from alumni and faculty whose lives have been changed for the better because of this program. Prospective students and others are welcome to review and reach out to alumni who have happily shared their information for the purpose of connecting and creating a community environment.
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Take a trip back to 1998, Dr. Brad Williams was just appointed Chief Student Affairs Officer. Dr. Williams noticed something was missing from NSU. At that time, there were Graduate Assistants in the Division of Student Affairs. However, they were mostly graduate students from across multiple programs. An issue arose when there seemed to be a lack of passion for Student Affairs among these students. They did not have the time to donate to the demanding positions as graduate assistants. These jobs needed to be carried out by students who were in the field of Student Affairs and had the time and passion to dedicate to them. At the turn of the century, Dr. Williams directed the focus to building a College Student Affairs preparatory program for the 21st century that would incorporate the skills and competencies that a student affairs professional would need in the future. Thinking ahead of the times, a proposal was constructed. Research was done in order to see what was already available, as this was not to be just another student affairs program or college administration degree. What some of the research portrayed was that there were only two types of degrees in this field: those that leaned more toward psychology and counseling, or those degree programs that were designed more for college administration.
In 2002, Dr. Gay Holliday, came to NSU as the associate dean. She assisted in writing the proposal for the new Masters program. The program proposal was submitted in 2004 and was originally made up of only five courses. Later, two more courses were introduced as well as two practicum courses. In the end, what set the program apart from the others, was that it was developed with a grounding in conflict analysis and resolution. The program was released online as well as residentially.
In 2005, the first Graduate Assistants came to NSU. In that year, the recruiting class had four graduate students. From there the program continued to grow. The program began to maintain ten to eleven students a year. In 2009, Anthony DeSantis took charge of recruitment and marketing. He quickly increased the number of students aiming to pursue a career in the field of student affairs. DeSantis’ success was continued by Josh Hammers after DeSantis left the University. The program continued to grow every year. Now, in the year 2017, the Master of Science in College Student Affairs celebrates its 12th year and has grown to thirty-one students annually. It all started with a hand full of student leaders who noticed a need. They collaborated in order to solve that need, thus creating the first Student affairs program to be grounded in conflict resolution.
There is an honorable history worth noting, when it comes to this program and although the history of origin is not a long one, it is one that deserves to be recognized and credited, and so do the individuals who dedicated time and resources to give birth to this monumental program. For 12 years, NSU has provided eager students the tools they require to become leaders in the sector of secondary education. The goal of this program remains to create a sense of community and to foster the skills necessary to be phenomenal leaders.
—James Welch, Class of 2018