Month: October 2021

Fall 2021 Alumni Welcome from Program Coordinator

(Photo courtesy of Kenny Nienhusser)

Dear HESA UConn Alumni,

Greetings from Storrs! I hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones well as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to engulf our lives. 

I thought to begin my inaugural newsletter as HESA Program Coordinator with a story I enjoy sharing with prospective and incoming students. While UConn is composed of about 40,000 members, the acronym “HESA” is widely recognized on our campuses. 

When I arrived at UConn, over three years ago I would reveal my affiliation with HESA with colleagues across our campus and they immediately recognized our program, and often they would share how they were connected to our Program (most often through current and/or past students who had assistantship and/or practicum in their offices). I share this experience because our community is a special place and you have contributed to that legacy—working at your assistantship, engaging in your practicum, connecting with and supporting the thousands of students who made their way to our offices, participating in campus activities, and countless other ways. That legacy is the foundation we use to continue to strengthen our program and develop HESA professionals to be the next generation of change agents on our college campuses and in our society.

Now, let me transition to some program updates. In true HESA fashion, there has been much going on in our vibrant community in recent months. This semester we greeted our first- and second-year cohorts to campus for our welcome events, which were held in person in late August. Our first-year cohort has a slightly adjusted program of study, including some revised titles of our course. You can view those modifications here

Recently, the HESA faculty decided to pursue a pilot admission process, which makes some slight adjustments to how we have admitted students in the past. While this pilot admissions process unfolds, we remain committed to support the learning, development and growth of HESA students as practitioners who are grounded in our field’s scholarship. In particular, we strongly believe that practical experiences in higher education and student affairs are vital to the learning and success of our students, and are committed to identifying and placing HESA students in graduate assistantships, practica, and other professional experiences relevant to our HESA practice. I encourage you read that information in this edition of HESA Happenings.

We are actively recruiting for our UConn HESA Class of 2024. Please encourage interested students to attend one of our upcoming information sessions scheduled for Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 5:30pm EDT and Tuesday, Nov 16, 2021, 8:30pm EST. More information about our program and admissions process, including how to sign up for an information session, can be found here

Last academic year the HESA faculty was successful in getting a new PhD concentration approved—Higher Education, Racial Justice, and Decolonization—in the department’s Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Program. The title and focus of our concentration align with ACPA’s Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization. We are actively recruiting students for that new program; if you are interested or know of people who might be interested please encourage them to explore our program. More information about the new Higher Education, Racial Justice, and Decolonization PhD concentration can be found here. General inquiries about the new PhD concentration can be sent to Dr. Saran Stewart.

While the faculty have been busy with (re)envisioning our curriculum, programs, and processes, they continue to excel in our field and on our campus. Their work is truly inspirational and at the core of that work is disrupting persistent and systemic inequities in Higher Education while also making campuses more welcoming spaces, especially for minoritized students, including at UConn.

We are launching some new initiatives to further engage with you, our alumni. We want to know about all the great things happening in your worlds—good news, publications, promotions/new jobs, programs developed, and more. To let us know, please complete our HESA Insider. We plan to highlight some of these good news on our social media accounts, website, and/or future newsletters. 

Another way to get involved with our program is to consider hosting a practicum opportunity for a current student. We are currently collecting practicum opportunities for the spring 2022 term. Practica can be in-person or virtual, so if you are an alumni a far distance from Storrs, this is your opportunity to supervise and mentor a current UConn HESA student. To see more information about hosting a practicum opportunity and how to submit a potential site you can go here. If you have any inquiries about how to host a practicum opportunity, please contact Dr. Adam McCready.

Also, I encourage you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We enjoy hearing about all the wonderful work you are doing, so do contact us via email and/or by tagging us on social media.

Wishing you a positive conclusion to 2021 and that 2022 brings you health, happiness, and more good news for you to share with the UConn HESA community!

Take care . . . cuídense!

Kenny Nienhusser, EdD (él, he, him, his)

Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Higher Education and Student Affairs

Faculty Director, La Comunidad Intelectual

2021 HESA Pilot Admissions Process

After careful consideration, the HESA faculty has decided to engage in a pilot admissions process for up to two admissions cycles that we believe will make our admissions criteria and process more equitable. Our decision involved a careful examination of our past admissions data, trends we were seeing in our applications and cohorts, and peer and aspirant HESA programs’ admission processes. We want to share these important changes with our alumni, who are wonderful ambassadors of our program with prospective students. 

  • We will no longer require a Graduate Assistantship for admissions into the HESA Program. However, for students admitted into the HESA program, who would like to have a graduate assistantship, we will continue to work with our campus partners to secure and organize interview placements for available graduate assistantships. 
  • In an effort to be more equitable in our admission process, we will offer a virtual admitted students program in addition to our traditional in-person experience. 
  • Applicants will be admitted to the HESA program by the middle/end of January, prior to having the opportunity to interview for graduate assistantships. 
  • Finally, we are rebranding “HESA Interview Days Weekend” to another name, likely “HESA Admitted Students Weekend”: Because admitted students will not be required to participate in assistantship interviews during this event, we are considering a name that better reflects the nature of the experience and is more inclusive for attendees who elect to not participate in these interviews. 

We strongly believe that practical experiences in higher education and student affairs are vital to the learning and success of our students, and are committed to identifying and placing HESA students in graduate assistantships, practica, and other professional experiences relevant to our HESA practice. Also, the program will continue to strive to recruit a strong number and pool of applicants to UConn.