Sweet Briar is one of “30+ Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs,” according to a national study conducted by the Center for Inclusion, Diversity & Academic Success at The Ohio State University.
Other colleges and universities on the list include Arkansas State University, Ohio Wesleyan University and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The College of William & Mary is the only other Virginia institution featured in the study’s top 31.
“The co-curricular life staff and I were very pleased to be included,” said Cheryl Steele, Sweet Briar’s dean of co-curricular life and vice president of student affairs.
Her office employs 13 full-time and three part-time staff members across several departments, including first-year and sophomore programs, residence life, student involvement and programs, career services and campus student employment, health services and counseling, the Outdoor Program, the Leadership Certificate Program and student spiritual life, to name a few.
Promoting diversity and inclusion are central to the College’s strategic plan, and nowhere are these values more visible than in the Office of Co-curricular Life.
“We have had a long-standing commitment to diversity, particularly as this enriches students’ experience at Sweet Briar,” Steele said. “It has been exciting to see growth in the diversity of our student body, and we have worked to provide resources for students to feel encouraged and supported.”
One example is the College’s Common Ground peer mentoring program, which connects current students and staff with incoming minority and first-generation students to support their academic, emotional and socio-cultural adjustment to college life at Sweet Briar. And while the co-curricular life staff continues to create more such opportunities, Steele hopes the trend toward more diversity will reach beyond the student body.
“We would like to see continued growth in the diversity of our staff, and more broadly at the College,” she said. “We are optimistic that being included in this study will encourage persons from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to consider Sweet Briar both as a place to work — and to send their students.”
The Promising Place to Work in Student Affairs study is a collaborative project between the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. The Center for Inclusion, Diversity & Academic Success (iDEAS) in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University was selected to conduct the national study.
Conceptualized in fall 2011, the study was commissioned to examine the administrative structures, commitment to diversity, and workplace or staffing practices of various divisions and departments of student affairs (or an equivalent) at participating ACPA member institutions. Prior to the fall 2013 semester launch, the study was developed by staff members in the Center for iDEAS, as well as a national advisory board of researchers, practitioners and experts on students affairs worklife, and session attendees at the 2013 ACPA Convention in Las Vegas. The initial survey comprised six categories including family friendliness, salary/benefits and professional development opportunities. More than 100 institutions of higher education participated in the study.
For more information, and to see a complete list of institutions, please visit diverseeducation.com.