By now, most of our universities have welcomed our new students to campus and our returning students back. We have gone through the rituals of helping students understand campus values, provided pathways to resources, and worked hard to connect students to each other and their new communities. For me, the fall signals a time of great expectation and aspiration. We have the joy of watching young people embark on perhaps the greatest challenge they have faced to date, with all of their hopes and dreams, their unbridled energy and openness… and probably a fairly small toolbox from which to draw.
After all, the territory is new for these young learners – the people, the schedule, the space, social rules, who to trust, how to study – it is likely different than that to which they have grown accustomed. Through our roles on campus, we have the opportunity to create environments that support students through their transition, teach them the rules that help them be successful, and challenge them to expand their toolbox. We have the privilege of walking the journey with our students, helping them turn their aspirations into action and expectations into accomplishments.
I have worked in the field of student affairs for almost 25 years, and every fall I am reminded of the important role we play in the education of this next generation. I also believe that every time I look at the sea of faces at our new student convocation, the people, the schedule, the social rules continue to change. The toolbox that I have to do my work continues to need expansion. I think about all of the characteristics that have changed in our students – how they learn, how they communicate, how they perceive the world and each other, how they socialize, what gets their attention – it’s always changing. And the world is changing as well. From how our government and legal system interact with universities, to how education is delivered, and from how our economy affects the worth of higher education to how the ethics and decision-making of one can transform and transcend our industry, the need to keep updated on important issues is constant.
As we enter another year of great expectations and aspirations, I’m excited to know that TACUSPA is creating a new resource to help us continue to learn, build our skills, and connect our resources with other student affairs professionals in Texas. I am confident that this new online journal will be a great conduit for sharing our best ideas and our bravest thoughts in an effort to advance our work on our campuses. Just like our new students, we have the opportunity to expand our understanding of our environment, use our resources, and build relationships with others who may be experiencing some of the same things we are. I believe strongly in our profession and also feel the responsibility to keep learning, to give back, and to remind myself of the responsibility that comes with the privilege of working with these young people every day.