Future of the Profession

A forward-looking initiative to design a stronger, healthier, and more sustainable campus housing profession.



Collaboration Self-Assessment Tool

Campus housing and residence life departments must identify partners to develop business operations, enhance the community, provide efficiencies, and improve service. These partners may be found on campus, in the community, or within the larger campus housing industry and vendor community.

The number of colleagues and other people on any college or university campus that are potential partners for a housing and residence life department could be endless. Whether these colleagues would be good strategic partners in any given circumstance needs to be evaluated to ensure that the most appropriate people are seated around the table doing the work of a given team or committee. The considerations that go into making these decisions may be numerous and possibly overwhelming.

The following questions and processes can help facilitate this selection of the most appropriate people to serve on various teams and committees at the college or university.

Self-Assessment of Committee Participation

This self-assessment process will guide users through questions and considerations for strategic partnerships and collaborations. Though circumstances, environments, and resources vary in our institutions, reflecting on the areas outlined below will help to create an effective collaboration plan. You will reflect on:

  • Considerations for implementation in one’s own institutional culture and context.
  • Current partnerships and review of what partnerships could be useful to add or redefine.
  • Considerations for who might be best to serve and what skills are needed to collaborate effectively.
  • Considerations for effective collaborations.

The goal is for the consideration areas to be broad enough for all members to find useful. Suggested audiences and uses for the self-assessment:

  • Graduate student or entry-level professional exploration of how work differs based on institutional environments.
  • Departmental leadership team internal review of roles and partnerships.
  • New SHOs moving into broader-ranging, systems-based senior roles, after perhaps being more single-topic-focused in previous roles.

Collaborations will look different based on institutional type, size, culture, and context. Instead of being formulaic or prescriptive, below are questions and considerations for collaborations and partnerships.

A sample reflection may be: “Even in large institution systems with enough staff to address a specific function, working with another department can make for a stronger product. Small institutions often have no choice but to collaborate to get the work done. What are the priorities for a small department so as not to over-extend staff resources?”

Factors to Consider: How do these characteristics impact collaborations and partnerships?

What is your institutional type (e.g., small, large, public, private)?

  • What are your institutional priorities, strategic plan, mission, and goals? What reporting is necessary? Are there conflicts between institutional and departmental goals and initiatives?
  • What is your department’s organizational chart and position in your institution’s organization?
  • Who are your students? What is the student culture and composition? What are current student needs and institutional goals (e.g., retention)?
  • What informal and formal collaborations currently exist? What is documented and what is more of a handshake agreement?
  • What needs/issues are you trying to address?
  • What is the impact on your budget? (Not all partnerships require money. What resources are required?)
  • What institutional and community resources are currently available? Consider financial, human, and political resources.
  • What resources are needed to address current challenges/needs?

Current partnerships and collaborations: Common committees, partnerships, and strategic collaborations an HRL office may implement include: implementing:

  • Strategic planning
  • DEI partners
  • First-year experience/orientation
  • Students at risk/CARE team
  • Crisis teams
  • Behavioral intervention teams
  • Governance groups
  • Accessibility/accommodations teams
  • Enrollment management
  • Athletics
  • International affairs
  • Assessment and institutional research
  • LLCs – academic and special interest
  • Human resources for hiring and training
  • Student success-based offices/identity/affinity offices in terms of the student experience in the halls, recruitment efforts for leadership, and other involvements.

In considering these, HRL departments should ask:

  • Which partnerships does your department currently have?
  • Who currently serves in these roles?
  • Are there internal/departmental roles or committees that could be better served with partnerships?
  • What collaborations would be useful based on the institutional assessment above?
  • What are other partnerships not listed above that would be beneficial?

Considerations for effective collaboration and who should serve in partnerships: Process who would best serve in collaborative roles, noting that positional titles do not always correspond with the most effective placement.

  • Who has knowledge of campus resources?
  • Who has knowledge of community resources? (This quality may better align with one’s experience and longevity at an institution rather than a decision based on a job title.)
  • Who has the ability to be a liaison and strong communicator that will connect various departments and roles?
  • What is the role of relationship building and information sharing in the partnership?
  • Who has the ability to understand and comfort working with an unfamiliar organizational culture and/or working style?
  • What format should the collaboration take (regular meetings, seasonal reconnection, email exchanges or
  • meeting times, MOUs, published policies and procedures)?
  • What are the politics of who is in the group? Who needs to be added? Who has credibility and a voice?
  • What are the politics and dynamics of joining an existing group or starting a new collaboration? Who are the stakeholders and gatekeepers?
  • Are there labor unions to consider? Who needs to be a part of something based on their roles?
  • What is your role? When did you join the institution? What are you inheriting? Are you a new leader on the campus? How can you investigate prior history? Where and from whom are you getting information?

Resources for Collaboration: Considerations for forming a charge for effective committees, workgroups, and taskforces.

  • Develop a mission statement.
  • Establish goals.
  • Determine meeting frequency.
  • Decide on the most effective size of the group.
  • Clarify who needs to be invited and included.
  • Set group expectations.
  • Document who is responsible for what roles and outcomes. Decide what data and assessments are needed.
  • Keep good records of processes and procedures to pass along to the next group.


  • ACUHO-I Future of Housing Work Group: Collaboration with Campus Partners Infographic. https://www.acuho-i.org/resources/cid/7462?portalid=0
  • ACUI (2020). A classification of collaboration between student affairs and academic affairs. The Bulletin. https://www.acui.org/resources/bulletin/bulletin-detail/2020/03/16/a-classification-of-collaborationbetween-student-affairs-and-academic-affairs
  • Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (2019). CAS professional standards for higher education (10th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. https://www.cas.edu/
  • The Higher Education Consortium for Student Affairs Certification. https://studentaffairscertification.org/
  • National Association for Behavior Intervention and Threat Assessment, which includes recommendations for composition, meeting frequency, and roles. https://www.nabita.org/resources/
  • Stebleton, M.J. & Higashi, L. (2021). NASPA Blog Post: New year, new relationships: Establishing meaningful partnerships between student affairs educators and faculty members. JCC Connexions, 7(1). https://www.naspa.org/blog/new-year-new-relationships-establishing-meaningful-partnerships-betweenstudent-affairs-educators-and-faculty-members
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