The dynamic social, political, and economic landscape in higher education creates many layers of complexity for student affairs leaders. Increased scrutiny by outside agencies results in student affairs administrators being put on the defensive, forced to justify expenditures as critical to student learning and success. The ability to understand as well as articulate student learning learning and assessment measurements with transparency have become required skill sets for all who work in student affairs, but specifically vital to the success of senior student affairs officers or SSAOs. How individuals in these roles balance the competing demands upon their attention and their ability to navigate these changing dynamics provides important lessons for all who work in student affairs specifically but even broadly in higher ed.

Join Heather Shea Gasser, one of the hosts of Student Affairs Live, as she interviews three senior student affairs officers or SSAOs at three diverse institutions to discuss the changing landscape of higher education and lessons for leadership.  Dr. Zebulun Davenport is the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, or IUPUI. Dr. Laura Bayless is  the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Wisconsin-Platteville, and Dwayne Todd is the Vice President for Student Affairs at the Columbus College of Art & Design. We hope you can join us LIVE and participate in the discussion on Twitter at #HigherEdLive at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 5th, but if not, feel free to watch the replay in syndication on this page!

Zeb Davenport

Zebulun Davenport is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. His purview includes Educational Partnerships and Student Advocacy; the Campus Center; Office of Student Involvement; Counseling and Psychological Services; Housing and Residence Life; Campus Recreation; Student Health Services; and Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct.  Davenport earned a Doctorate in Higher Education and Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, a Master’s of Education in College Student Personnel Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Communications/Public Relations with a minor in Human Services from James Madison University. He has served in various leadership roles at Northern Kentucky University, Appalachian State University, Lord Fairfax Community College, and James Madison University. A nationally known author and speaker, Davenport’s recently co-authored a book entitled  First-Generation College Students – Understanding and Improving the Experience from Recruitment to Commencement. Connect with him on Twitter at @drzdavenport 

Laura Bayless

Laura Bayless currently serves as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where she provides leadership for academic advising for undeclared students, campus activities, career services, counseling services, dean of students office, health services, leadership development, pioneer involvement, residence life, and student conduct. She previously served as the interim vice president for Student Life at Caldwell College in Caldwell, N.J.; vice president of Student Affairs at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City, and dean of students and assistant dean for Student Affairs at Longwood University in Farmville, Va. Bayless earned her Bachelor of Arts in speech communications/mass media from Denison University; Master of Science in college student personnel services at Miami University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech. Laura has also served in a number of leadership roles in ACPA, including Coordinator for Commissions, Chair of the Commission for Administrative Leadership, and is currently the Member-at-Large-elect for Senior Level Professionals. Connect with her on Twitter at @laurabayless

Dwayne Todd

Dwayne Todd currently serves as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Columbus College of Art & Design, where he provides leadership for the areas of residence life, student activities and events, safety and security, counseling services, career services, academic advising, academic support services, disability services, campus dining services, student conduct administration, orientation/new student programs, and student insurance programs.  Todd previously served in various Student Affairs roles at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, and was the Assistant Chair of the MBA program at Franklin University in Columbus, OH.  Among these institutions, his career in higher education spans 19 years of work in multiple areas of higher education administration.  Dwayne has also served in multiple positions on the ACPA Governing Board, is a Past President of the Ohio College Personnel Association, and currently serves on the ACPA SSAO Advisory Board, as an ACPA Foundation Trustee, and as the Program Co-Chair for the 2015 ACPA Convention in Tampa, FL.  Connect with him on Twitter at @dwaynetodd


Resources that these SSAOs use regularly and would like to share:


Presidencies Derailed: Why University Leaders Fail & How to Prevent It by Trachtenberg, Kauvar, & Bouge

Paying for the Party; How College Maintains Inequality by Armstrong & Hamilton

Decisions Matter by Vaccaro, McCoy, Champagne, & Siegal

First Generation College Students: Understanding and Improving the Experience by Ward, Siegal, & Davenport



Inside HigherEd  

Chronicle Daily Updates

#SAchat & Student Affairs Collective

ACPA’s publication About Campus

The rising cost of NOT going to college



Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “David and Goliath”

ACPA’s About Campus, Journal of College Student Development, and e-Community

ASCA’s Law and Policy Report by Gary Pavella

Find your city’s business-focused newspaper on Business First e.g.



Episode Host

Heather Shea

Heather Shea

Heather Shea's career in student affairs spans nearly two decades and five different campuses, and involves experience in many different functional areas including residence life, multicultural affairs, women’s centers, student activities, leadership development, and commuter/nontraditional student services–she identifies as a student affairs generalist. Heather is currently serving as the director of Women*s Student Services in the Division of Student Affairs at Michigan State University having just completed her Ph.D. in MSU's HALE (Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education) Program. She completed her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University in 2000. Connect with Heather on Twitter at @heather_shea_