Dr. Sonja Ardoin 1 of 7 faculty selected for NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy

Dr. Sonja Ardoin, Clinical Assistant Director and Program Director of Higher Education, was recently selected as one of seven faculty from around the United States for the NASPA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy.

NASPA is the leading professional organization for higher education administrators. Dr. Ardoin will be representing Region 1, which encompasses New England, eastern Canada, and western Europe.

“I think for me particularly, looking at who was selected this year it’s really cool that all of the folks identify as women,” Dr. Ardoin said. “We’ll have this cohort of newer women faculty and folks from all over the country who are having similar success and challenges in both acclimating to faculty life and ensuring that their programs and their faculty work is aligning with industry standards.”

Dr. Sonja Ardoin at NASPA's 2017 conference in San Antonio
Dr. Sonja Ardoin at NASPA’s 2017 conference in San Antonio

The group was recognized at the annual NASPA conference in San Antonio in March and will meet online and in person throughout this year to participate in professional development and educational sessions. Their first professional development session centered on teaching, and sharing strategies around translating theory into practice.

According to NASPA’s website, the cohort who completes the academy will be able to “define leadership in a faculty role for themselves; identify individual plans to excel in a faculty career; target at least one ‘take away’ from the individual plan to actuate; expand network of colleagues to collaborate within faculty work; and explore ways to be involved in NASPA as a faculty member.”

Dr. Ardoin has already been extremely active in the organization, frequently presenting at NASPA conferences and serving as the Socioeconomic & Class Issues (SCIHE) in Higher Education Knowledge Community Representative, and the Co-Coordinator of the SCIHE Knowledge Community’s effort to create a group for higher education professionals from the working class.

At this past national conference in March, Dr. Ardoin presented during the Student Affairs (SA) Speak series on “how the higher education environment discredits and degrades poor and working class folks.”

One of the challenges that Dr. Ardoin and her cohort have addressed so far pertains to being women in higher education, in particular.

“As women we sometimes face challenges when folks ask us to to [professional development] sessions that are not on our campuses, and it gets weird asking for compensation,” she explained. “If they were a white man, they wouldn’t think twice about compensating them.”

Dr. Ardoin learned from one member of her cohort who simply directs people to her website in these scenarios where she details the sessions she facilitates and her rates for doing so.

“That’s something that I’ll think about doing now.”

Dr. Ardoin added that she’s excited to be learning with and from the facilitators of the academy, Dr. Pam Havice, a Professor at Clemson University’s College of Education and the Director of NASPA’s Faculty Assembly, and Dr. Phyllis McClucksory-Titus, a Professor from Illinois State University’s College of Education.

“The academy not only creates a cohort for us seven women but it ties us to the cohort before us, creating a network of faculty at varying levels who we can all learn from,” Dr. Ardoin said. “It’s really about the sharing of ideas and the sharing of challenges.”

-Lisa Randall