A Handbook for Staffing Practices in Student Affairs

The staffing process forms " . . .a system of policies, procedures, structures, activities, and rewards that govern the way people are hired and managed within higher education."

Winston & Creamer, 1997


Topics on this Page



Staffing Model

Navigating the Manual



This handbook addresses the issue of staffing practices within a division of student affairs. The handbook format was chosen to offer practical guidance to supervisors and chief student affairs officers who are interested in implementing staffing practices based on the model presented here. However, it is our hope that this information will be of interest to all student affairs practitioners.

This handbook was developed as a project for Staffing Practices in Education courses in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Virginia Tech taught by Don G. Creamer (Fall 2000, Fall 2001) and Staffing Practices in Student Affairs in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services at the University of Georgia taught by Roger B. Winston, Jr. (Spring 2001).


Purpose and Scope

There are numerous books, manuals, journal articles, etc. that examine the roles of the student affairs professional within the context of student development. In short, student affairs professionals are dedicated to the fundamental principle that students must be considered as whole persons.

The staffing practices model outlined in this manual also subscribes to the human development principles on which the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) standards are based, but it extends these principles to the student affairs professionals themselves. The basic assumption is, then, that the individual staff member (i.e., student affairs professional) must be considered as a whole person.

Staffing practices based on a model that adheres to human development principles should focus on the development of the whole person. We believe that an inward focus on the human development needs of the staff members of the various student affairs programs will contribute to and enhance the overall quality of these programs and the divisions, departments, and institutions in which they operate. Such contributions and enhancements of quality will ultimately benefit students.

Outside of the world of student affairs preparation programs, the question of the development of the student affairs professional is paid little attention. To be sure, there are plenty of opportunities for professional development through participation in conferences, seminars, and on-campus professional development activities, but this is only one part of what we call staffing practices. While professional development activities are important, they bear little fruit if they are not integrated within the context of the daily activities of the organization.

Toward that end, one of the fundamental procedures described throughout this manual is the development of individual staffing plans (ISP). The ISP includes the position analysis for which the student affairs professional was originally hired. It is much more than a permanent records file, however. The ISP is a dynamic planning and assessment tool. The ISP takes into account the goals of both the organization and the staff member in an effort to maximize the productivity and efficiency of the unit and the opportunity for development of the student affairs professional.


The Integrated Model of Staffing Practice in Student Affairs

The Integrated Model of Staffing Practices encompasses the following components:

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Orientation to Position
  • Supervision
  • Staff Development
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Separation

The Integrated Model of Staffing Practices provides a framework for understanding the various activities that may occur at different stages of the student affairs professional's career. The components of the model operate cooperatively. As a result, the goals of the division, unit, and staff member are achieved to a much greater degree than if each component was held as a separate function. The model portrays staffing practices as ongoing, rather than occurring at distinct points in time with discrete start and end dates.

The model is an adaptation of the one presented by Roger B. Winston, Jr. and Don G. Creamer in their book Improving Staffing Practices in Student Affairs. In the Winston and Creamer model, integration is linked only to supervision. In the adapted model, integration is the fundamental concept that links all components. This model also differs from the one proposed by Winston and Creamer (1997) in its emphasis on methods for incorporating diversity initiatives into the day-to-day operations of student affairs.

One component included here, separation, was not included in the Winston and Creamer model. It is included here because it is an important and often overlooked component of successful staffing practices. Student affairs professionals leave organizations for a variety of reasons including, promotion, career opportunities at other institutions, and retirement. Whatever the reason for the departure, turnover can have a significant impact on the morale and productivity of the unit.

A supervisor practicing the Integrated Model of Staffing Practices recognizes that separation is a natural part of the career life cycle. Thus, there is a separate section dedicated to providing information to student affairs professionals about issues related to staff member departure.

As depicted in the model, supervision touches every other component and thus serves as the foundation for sound staffing practices. Without exemplary supervision, other staffing functions suffer and overarching goals of staffing practices -- the continued improvement of people and quality of the institution -- suffer as well. It is, then, paramount that readers of this handbook understand that the first step to improving staffing practices is to ensure adequate and appropriate supervision.

The Integrated Staffing Model offered here is itself the result of several adaptations. The first proposed adaptation (Figure 1) added the separation component and reconfigured the positioning of all components in order to reflect the impact of supervision on all components.

Figure 1 - First Adaptation of Staffing Model

The second proposed adaptation (Figure 2) returned the components' positioning in order to reflect the integrated nature of all components. The final adaptation, offered here, perhaps best reflects the ubiquitous role of supervision; the especially close relationships between recruitment/selection and orientation and between performance appraisal and staff development; and the integrated nature of all components.

Figure 2 - Second Adaptation of Staffing Model

In the fall, 2001 a special issue of College Student Affairs Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1 was published that contains some research on staffing practices in student affairs and updates on the staffing model.


Navigating the Manual

In an effort to provide ease of navigation and leave as much space as possible for text, a navigation bar has been provided. In the top left-hand corner of each page is a column labeled "Topics on this Page." This device allows users to jump to sections within the current page.

While first time visitors would likely be best served by following the prescribed order, feel free to explore areas here as you see fit and as your interest and needs dictate.

In some parts of the handbook, a resources section has been added recently that expands the handbook information about a particular component of the model. A click on the Resources link will take the user to more information about that component of the model.

We hope you find this handbook useful in your professional practice and development.



Updated 2008