Ohio University

Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Jason Pina, advocates for assessment in Leadership Exchange cover story

The Division of Student Affairs is thrilled to announce that Dr. Jason Pina, vice president for Student Affairs, was chosen to co-author the cover story of Leadership Exchange magazine. The quarterly publication by the NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is internationally recognized for its thought leadership among senior student affairs officers.

Pina’s contribution, “A Growing Reliance on Research,” was part of the article “The Six Rs of 21st Century Higher Education.” Pina wrote about how divisions of student affairs can use research to improve student outcomes and allocate resources responsibly. He broke that down into two suggestions: engaging faculty in research and using assessments to improve efficiency. Pina explained that using faculty to perform research on student affairs divisions not only is economical but also gives the researchers a deeper understanding of how the division helps students. “Fiscally, faculty time in the form of course releases is often less expensive than hiring consultants or third parties . . . and faculty gain better insights into work occurring on their campuses and how seriously professionals want to improve student outcomes and manage limited resources.

Pina continued, writing about how assessments can improve the research process by making it easier to efficiently see actionable data. He said that assessment professionals “are often agnostic to any particular department or approach and have the ability to counter the confirmation bias that caring and committed professionals may bring to their work.” In addition, working with assessment professionals can be a development opportunity for faculty-researchers, since it can “improve the skills of existing scholar-practitioners so divisions may have higher confidence in the trade-offs that must be made.”

“Ohio University has really embraced using assessment to see how we can make the largest impact on students during their time with us. We have thousands of employees who work to give students the opportunities to succeed, but many don’t have direct contact with students,” Pina said. “Assessments allow us to see what we can do that will make the biggest difference for students.”

In February, OHIO hired Dr. Cindy Cogswell as the director of Strategic Planning and Assessment to help guide the Division of Student Affairs. She writes, “Jason has leveraged his position as VPSA to set a direction and expectation of moving assessment practice in student affairs forward. In a short amount of time, the Division has already accomplished a tremendous amount of work. Dr. Pina’s endorsement, support and leadership has made this possible.”