Hands-on Learning

Graduate students in Higher Education Administration put knowledge to use in campus offices

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

A newly established School of Education program is giving graduate students an opportunity to put their knowledge and training to use, while providing valuable assistance to senior Boston College administrators in the process.

The Administrative Fellows Program in Higher Education was initiated last fall by Assoc. Prof. Ted Youn (SOE) to attract talented people with significant professional experience in higher education administration or related fields. The inaugural group of participants consists of nine doctoral students and five master's degree students enrolled in SOE, who have held positions in areas such as student affairs, policy analysis, financial management and student residential life.

Assoc. Prof. Ted Youn (SOE) leads an Administrative Fellows seminar, which included Jennifer Bassett and Michael Bastedo, last week. (Photo by Mark Morelli)

These students work 20 hours or more each week under the direct supervision of administrators in such settings as the Office of the Academic Vice President, Office of the Dean for Student Development, Center for International Higher Education, Presidential Scholars Program, Office of the University Historian and Learning Resources for Student Athletes. Their tasks include assisting with research, advising undergraduates, running admission programs, editing catalogs, coordinating internships and performing special projects.

"This program enables a cadre of students with considerable professional experience to come here full-time and add to their academic studies an additional intellectual experience with a high level administrator," said Asst. Prof. Karen Arnold (SOE), director of the Higher Education Program. "It brings together theory and practice, which reinforce each other."

The students, who receive full tuition remission and a stipend, also meet a few times each month to reflect on their experiences and exchange ideas on how the theoretical frameworks they learn in class can be realized in the workplace. The meetings help them feel connected to the campus and each other, Youn said, which in turn gives them support during their time at Boston College and provides a network of contacts once they graduate.

"The combination of academic and higher education work experience is a natural, given the subjects they study," said Youn.

One Administrative Fellow pleased with his experience is doctoral student Thomas Hippchen, a former student affairs administrator at Daniel Webster College, who is working with Prof. Dennis Sardella (Chemistry), director of the Presidential Scholars Program, and Dean for Enrollment Management Robert Lay.

"I wanted to see how a university operates from an area other than student life, so I've immersed myself in the Presidential Scholars Program and, as a result, think very differently about higher education," said Hippchen, who was an assistant dean of students and director of residence life at Webster College. The program also allowed Hippchen to pursue his degree full time and "see how the issues in class play out in real situations, rather than just reading about them in a textbook."

Sardella is also pleased with the arrangement, noting that Hippchen has taken substantial responsibility, spearheading the design and implementation for the program's soon-to-be-launched World Wide Web page, and setting up a department newsletter for graduates of the program.

"It is enormously helpful to have an assistant who can offer informed advice," said Sardella. "He has been able to take on jobs that I would normally do, which helps me and at the same time enables him to put the theory he learns in the classroom into practice."

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