BGSU College Student Personnel program marks 60 years of developing higher education professionals

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – As one of the premier programs of its kind in the nation, the Bowling Green State University College Student Personnel degree is celebrating 60 years of developing higher education professionals who support student success and outcomes.

BGSU has produced a half dozen college presidents, numerous senior-level student affairs administrators, educational consultants and social media influencers, and many more faculty members and professional leaders.

“There are so many to choose from,” said Dr. Amy French, coordinator of the graduate program, about the University's impressive roll call of master's recipients in College Student Personnel studies. “We have alumni working all across the country and we see their impact every day. This program is well-respected and enjoys a great reputation, and that reputation is perpetuated by our graduates.”

The BGSU Master of Arts in College Student Personnel prepares practitioners for positions in student affairs through the integration of college student personnel theory-based coursework that emphasizes student learning, growth and development. 

French said the program focuses on college student development and the learning and understanding of life beyond the classroom to work with college students most effectively. Participants in the master's program will complete graduate assistantships on campus, working with students and student organizations, as well as advising and aiding with campus events.

“We look to be involved with all of the non-academic areas on campus that have different student needs,” she said. “It is really about enhancing and supporting the student experience, which boosts enrollment and retention by giving students a sense of belonging. A school might have the best program in chemistry, but if the students can't find their friends and don't feel like they belong, they might not stay.”

The School of Counseling, Higher Education, Leadership and Foundations program also melds professional internships with coursework focused on tools and talents that can be applied in college or university settings, to equip future student affairs practitioners with the knowledge and skill set to serve students from all walks of life.

“It is a discipline that studies the student experience, the environment around our students, and how they grow,” French said. “It is everything from advising to housing to student wellness, and so much more. It is an area that sometimes goes unnoticed, but its role is so essential.”  

Among its more than 2,000 graduates, the BGSU Master of Arts in College Student Personnel program alumni includes Dr. Dean L. Bresciani, who served as the president of North Dakota State University for 12 years. 

After receiving his degree from the University's program in 1985, he served in student services and student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and filled a variety of roles as an administrator and faculty member at universities in Nebraska, Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and California before leading NDSU. 

Dr. Eric W. Fulcomer earned his master's in the BGSU program in 1995 and served as president of Rockford (Illinois) University for six years before being named president and CEO of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU) a year ago, a post where he represents 22 private, nonprofit institutions of higher education in the state. 

Before his appointment to lead Rockford, Fulcomer served in an administrative capacity at independent colleges in Ohio and Illinois, focusing his work on student life and enrollment management.

The lengthy and prestigious roster of alums also includes Dr. Chayla Haynes Davison, associate professor of Higher Education Administration at Texas A&M University, Dr. Ashley L. Brown, the senior director for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Victor J. Boschini Jr., who served as president of Illinois State University before taking on his current role as chancellor and president of Texas Christian University 20 years ago. The College Student Personnel program also produced Tom Gorman, BGSU assistant dean of Undergraduate Education and Student Services in the College of Health and Human Services.

French, who joined the BGSU faculty two years ago, said the program's national profile is a direct result of the caliber of individuals who have enrolled.

“What drew me here was the history and tradition of the program, well known as one of the top in the nation,” she said. “We get applications from across the country and internationally and are continuing to bring in the best and the brightest. We've had generations of faculty who have been committed to the program, and they've been the movers and shakers that have created the program's high profile.”

Gorman said he is proud of the program's long record of success and of the many great representatives of the field it has produced, including the college presidents and vice presidents along with many other campus leaders and numerous colleagues who have used the foundation provided by their BGSU education to move into prominent roles in business, consulting and speaking.

“For me, the theory-to-practice model learned in graduate school was invaluable throughout my career,” Gorman said. “Working on campus while simultaneously being challenged to study and learn theories of college student development allowed our cohort to reflect on our 'experiential learning' under the guidance of our faculty, who were all leaders of the profession. Over the years I always ask the CSP interns we hire in our office to share what they are learning in the classroom because it represents the latest scholarship and practices in the field.”

French said the use of professional internships in college or university settings puts BGSU degree holders in the optimum position to enter their chosen career field.

“Our students have the opportunity to go to other schools and do their practicums, so they are exposed to different campus structures. A good number will do internships through national placements with professional organizations like the Association of Colleges and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) and the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education (NODA), but regardless of where they go or which functional area they gain experience in, our students are highly sought after for those kinds of placements. They go into the job market ready.”

Updated: 01/16/2024 03:47PM