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I’ve always been hesitant to take on a leadership role for an organization because I fear not being able to give my very best to all of my competing personal and professional responsibilities. However, when I was notified that I had been nominated for the SAAL Board VP of Profession Advancement position, I knew this was an opportunity that I could not let pass.
I’ve been part of the SAAL community for five years and I’ve always felt there was something extra special about this community. Once I read the roles and responsibilities for the VP of Profession Advancement, it felt “right” and I was even more energized to “put myself out there” and go for it. I’ve been working within assessment, research, and evaluation for over 15 years and I knew I had so much to give to this work. With that, I accepted the nomination, I wrote up my statement for elections, and then I sat back and waited. When I was informed that I was elected for the VP of Profession Advancement, a rush of energy went through my body. It was truly the same feeling I had after successfully defending my dissertation, when I heard , “Congratulations, Dr. Ellissa Brooks Nelson.” In that moment, I knew this was the right opportunity for me at the right time. The stars had aligned and I was ready to get to work!
I am truly honored to serve in this role and for the opportunity to serve SAAL in this capacity. Student Affairs Assessment brings so much value and opportunity to our students and institutions and I am committed to moving our profession forward within the higher education community.
At my current institution, the mission of my unit is to build a culture of assessment throughout the division of Student Affairs. When you think about it, building a culture of assessment is essentially advancing the Student Affairs assessment profession. You know you have successfully built a culture of assessment when you no longer have to justify why assessment is important — folks are doing assessment because they see the value in the work. Building a culture of assessment takes a village – meaning, this is not something we take on all by ourselves. We do this together. While it has taken some time to move our division forward, we’ve successfully built a culture of assessment through intentional professional development, relationship building, and showing the value of assessment – not only by showing how assessment influences decisions and promotes opportunities for funding and resources, but also how assessment helps us identify opportunities to grow and be even better.
Similarly, for SAAL, my goal is to build a culture of Student Affairs assessment throughout the higher education community. WE can do this by showing the impact that Student Affairs has on students and our institutions – regardless of your institution, the work WE do in Student Affairs is invaluable – WE support students through programming, services, and initiatives. WE support students’ mental and physical health and overall well-being. WE develop leaders. WE create an environment conducive to student engagement and sense of belonging. All of these things that WE do on a daily basis directly impacts students and their success (and ultimately, the institution’s success). WE are able to show this impact through assessment. With your engagement through the active listserv, blogs, podcasts, structured conversations, assessment MOOC, and who knows what else we may come up with…WE will show the impact that the Student Affairs assessment profession has on the higher education community.
So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the confidence in me to serve as your VP of Profession Advancement. The SAAL Board and you, the community, are comprised of such amazingly talented and diverse individuals. I know that with your help and support, WE are going to do amazing things!
Blog written by Dr. Ellissa Brooks Nelson, SAAL VP of Profession Advancement