Core Competencies for Student Affairs Professionals

The two major Student Affairs organizations NASPA (National
Association of Student Personnel Administrators) and ACPA (American College
Personnel Association) joined forces in 2010 to create a list of core
competencies which, they believed, all Student Affairs Professionals should
work towards.

These core competencies are divided into ten areas: Advising
and Helping; Assessment, Evaluation, and Research; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion;
Ethical Professional Practice; History, Philosophy, and Values; Human and
Organizational Resources; Law, Policy, and Governance; Leadership; Personal
Foundations; and Student Learning and Development.

As stated within the introduction to these competencies, the
aim is not to just cross these different items off of the list as the
competency is met but rather different skills that should be incorporated into
the daily work of student affairs professionals. It is encouraged that student affairs
professionals complete a self-assessment and tailor their professional
development opportunities to try to reach these set out goals.

The competencies are tailored towards the Higher Education system within the United States, however, many of the skill areas are transferable to the Canadian system. These are not the be all end all in student affairs professional development, you can interpret these competencies in whatever way you think would work best for your practice.

Please take the time to review these competencies and look for
areas that you excel and areas of improvement! Share the document with your
colleagues and see if you can create professional development opportunities for
your team that can address the needs outlined.


ACPA College Student Educators International & NASPA Student Affairs Administrations in Higher Education. (2010). Professional competency areas for student affairs practitioners. Washington, DC: Authors.


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Mindfulness in Advising

Mindfulness in Advising
A part of the ‘Advise the Advisor’ series
Presented by Trish Minor
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trish Minor (Right), Program Advisor in the Student Success Centre, gave a wonderful presentation to approximately 40 advisors on mindfulness in advisors. Participants were guided through the importance of staying in the moment, and developing a stronger self awareness. This session came just in time for one of the busiest and most stressful times for advisors on campus!

If you were unable to attend this session, please refer to the the following power point presentation.

Mindfulness in Advising

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Appreciation Breakfast

UCAN’s appreciation breakfast was a great success with almost 100 advisors in attendance. We were very fortunate that Dr. Dru Marshall, Provost and Vice President Academic, and Dr. Ryan Lee, Interim Vice Provost Students, could attend. Both gave short speeches about the importance of advising to U of C, and recognized the work that all advisors perform to meet the needs of our students. Great fun was had by all.

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Developmental Advising

Developmental Advising Session
Part of ‘Advise the Advisor Series’
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

From left to right:
Dana Truelove
Roxanne Ross
Veronique Ram
Carina Huggins

Wednesday’s session was very meaningful and valuable. The content of this lunch hour session included defining what developmental advising is and about the life cycle of our sometimes very young students. We were all reminded of the importance of working and talking with the student as opposed to prescribing a particular plan of action.

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Advisors as Leaders

Dr. Peggy Patterson spoke to more than 60 advisors across campus on March 28th. This one-hour lecture was the first of our Advise the Advisor series. Dr. Patterson spoke on the topic: Advisors as Leaders. Too see her presentation click the attached link:

Advising and Leadership- UCAN Presentation – 2012

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Welcome to the University of Calgary Advisors’ Network (UCAN): a place for university advisors and student support staff to connect, learn and achieve.

In this site, you will soon find reviews and results of past events and news on upcoming activities. You will be able to access links to advising resources and relevant information about providing services to students and connecting with the advising community on campus.

UCAN Steering Committee

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UCAN Kickoff – Feb 23

UCAN Launch off to a running start
Blog post by Heather Smith-Watkins

The University of Calgary Advisors’ Network (UCAN) launched an ambitious program to over 120 enthusiastic and supportive advisors on February 23. The launch combined discussion and plans to enhance advisor skills, while also providing advice for health and well-being.

In a talk titled Refresh, Renew, Recharge: Advising for the Advisor keynote speaker Jan Crook, a counselor with the University Wellness Centre, focused on down-to-earth advice to advisors for taking care of their physical and mental health in order to provide the best service possible to students. Her address included funny and interesting personal anecdotes while encouraging advisors to examine their stress which she said often comes from personal perceptions.

Advisors then participated in round table discussions as part of a Boot Camp for Advisors. This activity was designed to stimulate conversations and share ideas, experiences and best practices and to explore solutions to common and not-so-common issues. The topics focused on maintaining an excellent standard in student advising leading to greater student engagement and satisfaction. The discussions also allowed advisors to network, build a supportive community, and brainstorm professional development ideas. Each group reported on their topics which included innovation, communication, discipline, goal setting and training.

Feedback about UCAN in general and the Launch in particular was plentiful and positive. Themes around the need for networking, communication between advisors from various areas, and up-to-date resources and contact information emerged as desirable and necessary. Advisors asked for more frequent opportunities to meet with colleagues formally and informally discuss solutions to common advising questions, learn about more effective use of technology, and discover professional development opportunities. Several advisors volunteered to work on the Steering Committee to provide a wider representation of advising staff and to create additional events over the next months.

It became clear to the UCAN Steering Committee that advising professionals at the UofC are committed to improving their skills and providing the most effective student support possible. UCAN is poised to contribute to the vision of Eyes High and to create a dynamic and unique professional development vehicle for UofC advisors.

Keynote Speaker Jan Crook inspires the group

Advisor Boot camp in action


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UToday Article – Jan 27

Fostering the Student Experience
UToday Article
January 27, 2012
By Carly Moran

Photo by Riley Brandt

The UCAN Advising Task Force is committed to student and advisor success (from left to right): Heather Smith-Watkins, Barbara McCutcheon, Ellen Schmaltz, Lesley Gerein, Susan Woods and Adrien Caddick.

Advisors are an integral part of the university’s culture, and despite their wide variety of specializations, all advisors are connected by a shared desire to help students make the most of their experience.

Recently, a small group of advisors began looking at opportunities to create a network aimed at developing connections and supporting advisor development and training. With the endorsement of Ryan Lee, interim vice-provost (students), the University of Calgary Advisors’ Network (UCAN) was established as a six-month pilot project.

“Creating connections between advisors will make us stronger collectively,” says Adrien Caddick, senior admissions officer, undergraduate admissions and member of the Advising Task Force. “Supporting the development of advisors will ensure students receive the best resources available, leading to greater student engagement and satisfaction.”

The group is planning a formal launch on Feb. 23 – an event targeting all campus advisors. A keynote speaker will be present to talk about motivating staff and connecting to students. Advisors are encouraged to subscribe to UCAN to join the network and receive more information about the launch.

The group already has a number of goals to help guide their activities, which include: creating a formal network of advising professionals, initiating a professional development program, developing an electronic advising hub, and starting an advisor recognition program.

“Enhancing advisor skills increases confidence in making referrals and helps students achieve their education and career goals,” says Lesley Gerein, manager of program advising at the Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Success Centre and member of the Advising Task Force. “Fostering the student experience will help us realize institutional targets for improved retention and graduation rates.”

With no other recognized advisor networks in Canadian universities, the group hopes to position the University of Calgary as a model for professional advising in Canada. Long term, they would like to connect the University of Calgary with other advisor groups in Canada and in the United States – where campus advising is a thriving profession.

“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a student gain confidence in their education and career options after meeting with an advisor,” says Caddick. “We’re here to smooth the way for students to realize their potential, and continue successfully along their chosen path.”

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