January 23, 2014

Dr. James Archibald: Higher Education Leadership Program

Dr. James Archibald, coordinator of VSU's Higher Education Leadership Program

VALDOSTA - Valdosta State University’s Higher Education Leadership program prepares graduate students for careers in higher education administration and student affairs. The program exposes students to a range of learning and development theories, explores the history of American higher education and analyzes educational research.

The program has two concentrations – an administration concentration and a student affairs concentration that was introduced in 2008.

“The student affairs track was funded through the university’s Strategic Focus grant, which allows us to provide graduate assistantships for the students,” said Dr. James Gregory Archibald, assistant professor of higher education and program coordinator.

Archibald added that enrollment in the higher education leadership program has increased by approximately 10 percent in the past five years. Currently there are 52 students enrolled in the master’s program.

“We have also noticed that the geographical diversity of the students has grown tremendously since 2011,” said Archibald. “Ninety percent of our students are from out of state, including students from Florida, Ohio, Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, Iowa, Texas and North and South Carolina. We also have students from the Bahamas, Scotland and Brazil.”

The program is a practitioner program that prepares graduate students to become administrators of various departments at institutions of higher education. The program also provides training on how to work with college students with regards to life adjustments, personal and professional development.

“Those within the program take classes such as Student Development Theory, which develops theoretical framework for working with student populations, and Organization and Governance, which teaches about the day-to-day operations of institutions and external and internal factors that influence the decision-making process. This is a very important class. So many people fail to understand how colleges work and the roles and responsibilities that each member has. This can lead to an erosion of public trust in our higher education system.”

Archibald said that the course, Counseling in Student Affairs, is a favorite because it allows students to evaluate their personal growth and development.

“As you matriculate through college, you are tested on your critical thinking skills, writing skills and analytical skills,” said Archibald. “But when do we assess our students’ personal growth and development? In order for one to be in a position to help others, that person must know who he or she is as a person. It appears to be one of the students’ favorite courses and I must say, it is one of my favorite courses to teach.”

The counseling course allows students to learn who they are as leaders and how they can use their abilities and experiences to help the students they will work with.

“The students in our program are the first line of defense for many of the student issues that exist or arise on campus,” said Archibald. “They are the coaches, Greek advisors, residence hall directors, and academic advisors who work with students who may be experiencing conflict with professors, relationship issues and even suicidal issues. It is our duty to prepare them for situations that may arise with the students.” Higher education leadership students also receive exposure and training outside of the classroom.

"We are heavily invested in our students' professional endeavors,” said Archibald. “For example, when I go to professional conferences and present my research with my students, I also make it a point to connect my students with contacts within my networks as well. I want to increase their visibility in the field as much as possible.”

The program is modeled by the recommendations outlined by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), and has received national recognition from professional organizations such as the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

“I'm very appreciative of the support that we receive from the university – particularly in collaborative efforts with the athletic division, student affairs, and several offices on campus,” said Archibald. “My hope is that the College of Education and the Department of Curriculum, Leadership, and Technology continue to support the professional development of the program's faculty and that the program’s regional and national visibility continues to grow. The program currently has a 95 percent success rate of students graduating with positions in institutional settings. Several of our students have gone on to be institutional researchers, assessment coordinators, directors of TRIO programs and academic advisors. Our graduates are currently employed at Stafford University, Emory University, the University of Kansas, Louisiana State University, Belmont University, and here at VSU just to name a few.”

Archibald has served as the coordinator of the program for nearly three years. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Morehouse College, a Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling from Austin Peay State University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs from Ohio University. He is also a licensed professional counselor and has been a member of NASPA – holding several positions and serving on several committees – since 2009. His research focuses on the implementation of social media in student affairs practice, the roles and responsibilities of faculty senate, student conduct issues and mental health issues in college settings. This work has been featured in the Journal of Student Affairs Research & Practice and Planning for Higher Education.  

Dr. Archibald has years of administrative experience in higher education in the role as a college counselor, Greek life advisor, student conduct officer, and a research associate. Dr. Archibald currently serves a senator on VSU’s faculty senate and is the advisor of the Lambda Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities.

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals:

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Goal 5: Develop and enhance Valdosta State’s human and physical resources.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.