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Your Student Affairs Environment


Student Affairs Leadership
Defining the Role Through an Ecological Framework

Linda Kuk and James H. Banning
Foreword by Cynthia Cherrey

The goal of the book is to help advance our understanding of student affairs leadership. Research and modern theories of leadership have focus on “context” as a central component of effective leadership. This work focuses on leadership in the context of higher education.

This has not been a real focus of works in this profession in the past. The book is focused on helping both leaders and aspiring leaders understand the importance of context and how it works to shape effective leadership. We take the findings from the exploration of the leadership-environmental interaction of 24 highly successful Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAOs) and apply them to guiding others in understanding how leadership can be enhanced.

Other works have used individual stories to speak to leadership, but none have actually studied a number of leaders in different types of institutions to present a descriptive portrayal of how leadership actually works in student affairs organizations.

What different “ecological contexts” are explored? The book studies student affairs as a cultural environment, a social environment, a physical environment, a political/legal environment, a resource environment, and an ethical environment.

From the Preface:

Specifically this work was designed to be distinct from other works by exploring leadership as viewed through a lens of ecological theory, and applying it to everyday leadership practice. (The ecological perspective will be explored more fully in chapter two). From this ecological perspective we view leadership as a transaction that involves leaders engaged with both the members of the organization and the existing contextual environment.
Each of the players within higher education organizations, including the positional leaders and other organizational members, have different roles but all of them have an influence on how leadership is perceived and addressed within the ecological context of the organization. Leadership effectiveness emerges when the interactions between the players and the ecological context are in harmony as they interact with the leadership process.

About the Authors

Linda Kuk currently serves as the Program Chair for the Higher Education Leadership Program in the School of Education at Colorado State University and is an Associate Professor of Education. Within her work, she continues to prepare leaders for roles in Higher Education Institutions. She has published three books: Positioning Student Affairs for Sustainable Change (2010), New Realities: Emerging Specialist Roles and Structures in Student Affairs Organizations (2012) and The Handbook for Student Affairs in Community Colleges (2014).

James H. Banning, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University, is an environmental psychologist and studies institutional learning environments from the perspective of campus ecology. Jim holds a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado – Boulder. In the student affairs field, he is seen as a pioneer in the campus ecology movement. He has co-authored several books: Educating by Design: Creating Campus Environments that Work, Positioning Student Affairs for Sustainable Change, and Designing for Learning: Creating Campus Environments for Student Success. 

For more about Student Affairs Leadership, including a sample chapter and table of contents, visit the book page.


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