Co-directors of CSPA continue expanding program’s reach

The College Student Personnel Administration degree program is relatively new, but Assistant Professor J.T. Snipes and Instructor Candace Hall are looking to continue progressing with new additions.


“In terms of academic programs, we are less than a decade old — which may sound like a long time, but it is really young,” Snipes said. “Our program in the institution is young and as a field is young. We’re trying to expand what we do.”


The CSPA program aims to give students the resources they need to work most effectively for all students and give them the best learning experience possible, according to the CSPA website.


Snipes said the core four competency areas in which students are prepared with are social justice and inclusion, student development, advising and support and assessment, evaluation and research with a focus on critical social justice. He said each area focuses on different aspects of the program, which are important for students to understand thoroughly.


“We are making sure that our students are able to engage in a diverse world and that they are aware of what social justice is. Social justice for us starts with a question of inequity and how society codifies inequity based on social identity,” Snipes said. 


Robin Hughes, the Dean of School of Education, Health and Human Behavior and CSPA professor, said she co-taught a class with SIU System President Dan Mahony about history and critical issues in collegiate sports. In this class, she said the two reflected on issues of social justice.


“He and I were intentional about a framework of social justice and equity,” Hughes said. “It would be every week that our students would hear about anti-racism. They couldn’t be afraid to hear words like white supremacy and privilege and hear language about critical race theory.”


Snipes said the addition of student portfolios for the students’ capstone projects are one of the additions to the program this past year.


“Dr. [Candace] Hall implemented the first round of our portfolio. Students are able to present, to us as faculty, artifacts of their learning over the past two years in our program,” Snipes said. “We are expanding our capstone experience for our students that includes their portfolio presentation.”


Graduate of the CSPA program Jessica Fulling, of Bloomington, Illinois, said her experience with the portfolio was rewarding. Although the presentation was over Zoom, she said her ability to present to CSPA faculty and staff members about her time with the program was exciting.


“I created a PowerPoint and I presented it to the head of the department and faculty members. Not only did we go over the four core values, but we also went over our final project,” Fulling said. “I really enjoyed it. I remember texting my friends. I wish the [presentation] went longer, which is kind of crazy.”


Fulling’s final project, “The Perception of Beyond the Box With Admissions,” discussed the issue behind a check box on student admissions applications regarding whether or not they have a criminal record.


“My study was focusing on the admissions counselor’s perspective on that box. The reason why I studied that is because students with criminal records actually are not completing the applications to get into college, even though society says we will accept them. There are a lot of biases,” Fulling said.


In the future, Snipes said the CSPA program is looking to add a joint athletics in higher education program, which would be a partner to the traditional program track. In the meantime, he said his main goal is geared towards students after they graduate.


“I want to fill our field with informed professionals,” Snipes said. “In order to do that, they have to get a job. We’ve had some success in making sure students find work when they graduate.”


Visit the CSPA program website for more information.

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