2018 NASPA Annual Conference

Don’t Miss Out on History Being Made Again in Philadelphia


The first time I heard about NASPA was in 2014 when I was doing my second master degree in college student personnel. Back then, my only impression about NASPA was the annual conference. I did not know what NASPA was and why NASPA was important to student affairs like I do now as a third year PhD student in higher education administration at Bowling Green State University.

When I started my doctoral study I began an assistantship with the archivist of National Student Affairs Archive. I was surprised knowing there is a student affairs archive that hosts the history of more than 40 national and international student affairs associations. My first task as an archivist was to create a new collection for Alice Manicur, the first female president of NASPA. In 2015, Alice Manicur donated her NASPA gavel, speeches and paper that she wrote for NASPA, and two scrape books that includes pictures, personal notes card, newspaper clips, and articles to NSAA. I spent two weeks reading and sorting all of the materials and cataloged them into a new NSAA collection, MS-1108, the Alice Manicur Collection. During the time of creating this collection, I emerged strong curiosity of knowing NASPA’s history because I was surprised that this association did not have a female president till 1975. Thus, led to the beginning of the story of me and NASPA’s history.

In 2015, I received a research inquiry from Dr. Michelle L. Boettcher, a professor at Clemson University. Her research project was about how social, cultural, and historical context influenced the theme of NASPA’s annual conference in the past 50 years. She asked me to scan all the NASPA’s annual conference books from 1965-2015. When I was finishing up her research inquiry, I found the first annual conference meeting minutes from 1919 in the collection. I was so excited and thrilled that I was able to touch a document that was from almost 100 years ago. This document also helped me learn that the first issue NASPA ever discussed was how to improve policies and disciplines for students who were in fraternities. I remembered I laughed while I was reading through this conference minute because how to serve and education students in fraternities is still a hot topic after 100 years. At the same time, I was amazed that NASPA predicted issues that are currently happening in student affairs in 1919. After I finished this research inquiry, I thought my story with Michelle had ended but NASPA had a huge surprise in store for me. Michelle became my first time NASPA attendee mentor at the 2016 Annual Conference! We were both surprised that NASPA’s history brought us together. We have presented our research project in 2017 annual conference and we will present again at the 2018 Annual Conference in Philadelphia to celebrate NASPA’s 100th anniversary!

During the process of helping Michelle research NAPSA's past annual conferences, I realized that 1919 conference minutes was just a small piece of the NASPA history iceberg. So much has happened after the establishment of NASPA in 1918. There are 6 significant moments that touched me during my study of NASPA’s history. Some of them are funny moments that made me laugh, some of them made me appreciate more of the contribution that NASPA made to social justice and the development and student affairs.

Moment 1: The Strawberry Conference

In 1929, to bring NASPA’s 1930 annual conference to the University of Arkansas, Dean Ripley guaranteed to "provide all the strawberries you can eat" to all the deans who participated the conference. 1930s annual conference took place in University of Arkansas. At the closing banquet, Dean Ripley and mayor of Fayetteville city prepared big dishpans filled up with ripe strawberries! Each Dean was given an empty bowl and a pitcher of cream and was told to help himself with all the strawberries! Thus, marked the 1930s conference, the Strawberry Conference.

Moment 2: How did NASPA become an Official National Association?

In my knowledge, it is not easy to register as a national association. However, for NASPA, it seems really easy. In 1920, Dean Scott Goodnight said to 6 other founding deans of NASPA that "Well, we met two times and then we agreed to meet a third time and we elected a chairman, so with that we were a national organization!" Don't you wish we could found a national organization spontaneously like what the Deans did in 1920?

Moment 3: The “Unorganized Men”

“Unorganized men” was discussed at the 1929 Annual Conference. Apparently, back then, if you were not a member of any fraternities, you were unorganized. And how to include these “unorganized men” into campus education and activities became an issue. Who would have thought that if you were not in a fraternity, you were organized?

Moment 4: The 1952 Annual Conference

The 1952 NASPA (back then was called NADAM) annual conference was originally scheduled at Austin, Texas. However, when leadership learned that the hotel would not house African American conference attendees, they moved the conference to Colorado where the president of Howard University was the keynote speaker. This was a significant conference of NASPA because of its efforts to include Black student affairs professionals in the 50th.

Moment 5: The Establishment of NAPSA’s Constitution

Before 1930, the daily operation of NASPA's was informal and lacked structure. Not only because dean Scott Goodnight wanted NASPA to be informal, but Dean Stanley Coulter (NASPA president in 1924) also spoke to other deans that "the trouble of you guys is that you take yourselves too seriously. You must not do that". When dean Don Gardner became a member of NASPA in 1928, he gave the "no-nonsense leadership" to push NASPA to become more formal and organized. After working closely with different committee members, dean Gardner established NASPA's first constitution in 1930. He later became NASPA's president in both 1939 and 1940.

Moment 6: From NADM to NADAM and to NASPA

NASPA’s name change reflected the journey of becoming an inclusive association to everyone. MASPA was called NADM (National Association of Dean of Men) when it first established in 1918. Back in the 20s, universities rarely had Dean of Students. Instead, Dean of Men and Dean of Women were the main titles for student affairs administrators. At the 1926 conference, the deans decided to include advisers of men into the association therefore the name NADM disappeared and NADAM (National Association of Dean and Advisers of Men) emerged. 

NADAM was used from 1926-1950. During this period, many Deans of men had the feeling that Dean of Men title would be replaced by Dean of Students eventually and their suspicions were right. Many institutions changed their Dean of Men to Dean of students and would not allow their Dean of Students to attend NADAM conference because they did not want to participate in an association that only focus on men. Meanwhile, many female Dean of students would not attend the conference because they did not see them fit into NADAM. 

After complicated and long battles with board of directors, Dean Wesley Lloyd finally convinced all the board members to approve the association's name change. In the 33rd NADAM annual conference, as the president, Dean Wesley Lloyd announced that NADAM official changed its name to NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Association) and NASPA is the association for all student affairs administrators!

These 6 moments are just a glimpse of NASPA’s 100 years history. I am still learning about NASPA’s history by working as the 100th anniversary specialist for NASPA. I believe history should not only be recorded or saved, but also shared and spread. I want to share my excitement of celebrating NASPA’s 100th anniversary and invite you to come to the 2018 Annual Conference as it will be a special event that showcase NASPA’s history. If you are not able to join us in Philadelphia, there are much online resources you can find on NASPA’s 2018 history website. I can’t wait to see all of you in Philadelphia on March 3, 2018!

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