The CSAL Professional Development Committee coordinates graduate assistant training and professional development. Committee membership includes professional staff from the Student Services Division and student representatives from the first year and second year cohort elected by their peers. Graduate assistants in the CSAL concentration are provided professional development opportunities in several ways:
Graduate assistants participate in a week long training seminar the first week of August. Students not only become familiar with the Grand Valley campuses in Allendale and Grand Rapids but also get to meet other graduate assistants in the program. Sessions cover topics ranging from working with your supervisor to diversity, basic listening skills, and group advising. Time is also provided during the week for academic advising and working in the department where the assistantship is located.
Graduate assistants meet for a two hour session once a month during the academic year for further training in topics such as group dynamics, higher education finance, supervision and the characteristics of effective managers/leadership. Topics vary over the course of a two year period and are related to the competencies developed through the Learning Contract.
Student Services Division Meetings
The Division of Student Services conducts monthly meetings for all staff in the division and CSAL graduate assistants in other divisions are invited to attend. Topics range from sexual assault training, alcohol education, strategic planning, crisis management and informational updates about the University, various units or issues related to higher education.
Professional Development Funds
CSAL graduate assistants are eligible to apply for professional development funds to help cover their costs to attend conferences or other professional development activities. Information about applying for funds is made available by the CSAL Professional Development Committee.
The CSAL Professional Development Committee has identified the following areas as necessary competencies for graduate assistants to gain as they become successful members of the student affairs community: administration, advising, counseling, and consultation, assessment / outcomes, communication, diversity / inclusion, ethics, leadership, research, sustainability, technology, theoretical foundations, and transitions / wellness. Working with supervisors, each graduate assistant is responsible for developing a Learning Contract which identifies methods for achieving competency in each of the areas. The Learning Contract also serves as the foundation for performance evaluations and is a useful tool in selecting a practicum site.
Case Study Competition
Since 1996 students in the CSAL program have participated in a Case Study Competition. This competition provides students the opportunity to analyze a situation, identify resources and develop a strategy to resolve the problem - all within less than 24 hours. In teams of two, they present their case to a panel of judges comprised of student affairs professionals. Each member of the winning team receives a cash award to be used for professional development as well as a plaque recognizing their achievements.
Each April, students in the College Student Affairs Leadership Program are invited to present the findings of their Master's Project or Thesis to staff members in the Division of Student Services at the final division meeting for the year. This is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to share their research findings and other scholarly pursuits with colleagues in an informal yet engaging format.