Jump to main content

History of the Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership


The Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership program at UNC officially debuted during the 1964-1965 school year as the College Student Personnel Work (CSPW) program. The CSPW Ph.D. was one of two new Ph.D. programs at UNC. Prior to this, there existed a minor in Higher Education as part of the Ed.D. program. In 1971, a Masters of Arts Degree with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration was added. The Department of College Student Personnel Work changed its name to become the Department of College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) to better reflect the changing nature of the field. In 1995, the CSPA Program was moved to the Division of Education Leadership and Policy Studies alongside the Educational Leadership Program and ultimately in 2001, changed from College Student Personnel Administration to Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership and the current curriculum for the Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership was approved in Spring 2011.

Early Years

In 1889, Governor Cooper signed a bill establishing the Colorado State Normal School. In 1911, the school's name was changed to Colorado State Teachers College to reflect the change of curriculum from a two-year teaching certification program to four-year bachelor degree program for teachers. The name of the school changed again in 1935, becoming Colorado State College. During this time Colorado State College’s Division of Education offered an Ed.D. with a minor concentration area in Higher Education. Between 1929 and 1941, Colorado State College awarded 32 Ph.D.’s, with at least eight of those having a portion of their fieldwork completed in higher education.

Expanding to Focus on College Student Personnel Graduate Education

On November 29, 1962, the Dean of Students, Dr. Jack Shaw, presented a proposal to the Graduate Council for a Ph.D. degree in Student Personnel Work in Higher Education for their review and approval. After some debate and revision by both the Graduate Council and the faculty, the College Student Personnel Work major leading to the Ph.D. degree was approved on April 3, 1963. The Doctor of Philosophy Degree debuted officially in the 1964-1965 Colorado State College General Catalog Bulletin. The two new Ph.D. degree options that were offered at Colorado State College were the College Student Personnel Work which was designed to prepare candidates for college environments, and the Ph.D. in Educational Measurements and Research to prepare candidates for college teaching assignments and/or researchers for curricular areas.

Founding Faculty

 The inaugural faculty included Dr. June Stuckey (Director), Dr. Jack Shaw, Dr. Ted Oppelt,Harry Collins, Dr. Ken Hogan, Dr. Frank Lakin, Dr. Ted Nelson, Dr. Claire Quinlan, Dr. Gerald Tanner. The “founding faculty” of the HESAL program were also UNC (then CSC) student affairs and higher education administrators. At the time, there were no full time faculty members but rather individuals had time split between the academic program and administration or were full time administrators who taught additionally. Through the 1950-60s, President Robert “Bill” Ross (1947-1964) was known for hiring former student body presidents into student affairs administrative positions as was the case with some of the early CSPW faculty. Since the founding of the program, the faculty have strived to create a collaborative and supportive environment that nurtures students to graduation rather than a program that emphasizes competition.