A Guide to the Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators Records, 1931-2016
The Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators (TACUSPA) is dedicated to the development of the student affairs profession in Texas. TACUSPA is made up of student affairs administrators and practitioners from Texas colleges and universities, including counselors, deans, student activities directors, residence life staff, vice presidents, and faculty members. The association normally meets three times yearly, at a winter conference, at a summer conference focusing on a specific issue affecting students and professionals, and at a fall conference that includes the annual meeting of all members.
The organization was formed in 1925 as the Texas Association of Deans and Advisers of Men (TADAM) under the auspices of Dean V. I. Moore from the University of Texas at Austin, Dean H. E. Speck of Southwest Texas State, and Dean Oscar Ulrich of Southwest University. Dean Moore was chosen as the first president, and the men modeled the organization after the National Association of Deans and Advisers of Men. The administrative structure consisted of a single president and several other secondary presidents, but no other officially recognized officers. Organizational membership was limited to males only until the 1960s, though women occasionally attended the annual conferences. The earliest records in the collection date back to 1930. No records exist from meetings between 1926 and 1934, but historical documents indicate that an annual conference was held beginning in 1926. The first state meeting occurred in Dallas on April 11, 1935.
University enrollment waxed and waned in the initial decades of TADAM. The Great Depression in the 1930s resulted in a reduction of the student body and the number of students able to afford to live on campus. The job prospects of graduating students were also diminished due to the struggling national economy. These issues were central topics in TADAM’s annual conferences at the time. During World War II and into the 1940s the student population decreased again, even though female enrollment increased dramatically. By the end of the 1940s TADAM had approximately 50 members, the majority of whom were deans or personnel in deans' offices.
In 1951, the organization changed its name to Texas Association of Student Personnel Administrators (TASPA). The stated mission of TASPA was to “discuss and study the most effective methods of aiding students in their intellectual, social, moral, and personal development” (TASPA Constitution, 1951). Annual membership at this time, which cost $1, was still restricted to male student personnel administrators from an accredited college or university in Texas. The administrative structure was modified from the previous one of a single president and ad hoc fulfillment of other roles. Under the new structure, there were four officers: a president, two vice presidents, and a secretary-treasurer. In 1951, TASPA began publishing the TASPA Tattle, a newsletter mailed to members containing information regarding the organization’s business and informal job listings.
The organization’s annual meetings featured many of the same topics from past decades, including the role of religion in student personnel work, scholastic integrity and dorm maintenance. In the late 1950s, several new topics such as problems with alcohol and discipline began appearing in conference programs. The decade also witnessed a vast expansion and diversification of the student body as the GI Bill contributed to more students on campus, which precipitated an increase in student personnel jobs. According to the available records, Vickie Norstong and Lou Russell were the first women to present at a TASPA conference in 1952.
In the 1960s, the United States was characterized by widespread social change and unrest that was reflected on college campuses. The civil rights movement and women's liberation movement promoted the participation of African Americans and women in the membership and conferences of TASPA. In 1960 Dr. Bernice Moore was the first woman to give a keynote address at a TASPA conference. Women were allowed into the organization as members in 1965, and membership was open to African Americans in 1964. The period saw widespread student unrest in the form of demonstrations, sit-ins and teach-ins, and relatively new issues with the student body such as recreational drug use. Records indicate that TASPA largely maintained its focus on the same issues from before: the purpose of TASPA, the role of student personnel administrators, and student discipline. The first female officers of TASPA were elected in 1970.
In 1974, the organization changed its name to Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators (TACUSPA) and inaugurated an annual summer conference on the role of student personnel in legal issues such as student disciplinary action, alcohol abuse, and university liability. In addition to the previous mission statement, TACUSPA sought: to stimulate leadership among student personnel administrators; improve professional standards in the field of student personnel administration; serve as a central clearing agency for information pertinent to student personnel programs; stimulate creative and experimental programs; promote research in the student personnel field; and to enhance the role student personnel administrators play in higher education (TACUSPA constitution, 1975). The administrative structure was adjusted again from previous years. The new structure consisted of a president, president-elect, vice president, treasurer, secretary/historian, immediate past president, and 2 and 4-year representatives. Together these roles comprised the Executive Committee.
During the 1980s TACUSPA meetings and conferences continued to focus on the role of the organization in higher education. Topics in TACUSPA’s conferences and newsletters included the organization’s role in environmental conservation issues on university campuses, the differences between student personnel at public and private institutions, publication skills for professionals, and student conduct issues such as disciplinary procedures and alcohol on campus. In 1981, TACUSPA initiated the “Dissertation of the Year” award, and in 1985 it created the Research and Graduate Education (RAGE) Commission to grant money for research related to student affairs administration.
The 1990s and 2000s have witnessed an expansion of TACUSPA’s membership and organizational roles as it interacted with many of the prevailing issues of the time period. The organization’s summer legal conference in 1990 focused on racial harassment in academic settings. It was one of several events in the early 1990s focused on promoting multiculturalism and diversity. The organization also set out to study the impact of affirmative action on campuses across Texas. The first African American president of TACUSPA was elected in 1991. Three years later the organization, Substance Abuse Specialist in Higher Education (SASHE), and its 30 members were incorporated into TACUSPA. In 1995, RAGE was renamed Graduate Education and Research (GEAR) Commission, though the purpose continued to be awarding grants for current research in student affairs administration.
TACUSPA created its first webpage in 1996, and it was hosted on UT El Paso’s website until 1999 when the organization acquired its own domain. In 1997 the organization applied for and was granted 501(c)(3) status by the federal government. TACUSPA has continued to engage with issues related to new technologies and modes of communication in the 2000s. Topics at the seasonal conferences and in the organization’s monthly publication, the TACUSPA Times, include technology’s impact on students, online communities in education, and legal issues surrounding liability with new technologies. The summer legal conference has focused on issues such as challenges to affirmative action (Hopwood v. Texas), sexual harassment and drug abuse. The organization has also maintained the focus on student diversity from the 1990s, in addition to new areas of interest such as students’ financial literacy and graduate students’ participation in professional organizations.
"Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators," http://www.tacuspa.net/About (accessed Oct. 27, 2016).
Records date roughly from 1931 to 2016, with gaps from 1932, 1935-1944, and 1946-1949. The majority of the records are from the 1990s to 2000s. Records are primarily comprised of conference materials from the annual conferences (fliers, programs, attendee lists, etc.), publications sent to members (Tattle, Student Affairs Chronicle [1993-2000], TACUSPA Newsletter), and membership records.
The earliest records in the collection date back to 1931, though information is sparse. The first documents include: a newspaper article from 1931 regarding TADAM’s annual meeting, an organizational report in 1934 and a membership list from 1945.
Beginning in 1951 under TASPA, the records begin to grow in number, containing information regarding conference programs, membership lists, the TASPA Tattle, financial records, meeting minutes, and correspondence. All of these records are filed together chronologically according to the original order that was established by the organization.
Early TACUSPA records include the newly named TACUSPA Tattle, The Student Affairs Chronicle, meeting minutes, membership lists, correspondence, financial records, conference information, and many early history documents such as constitutions, milestones, and officer lists. These records are grouped together chronologically and not separated out by subject. The records were still organized chronologically by the organization in the early years of TACUSPA.
Some of the main functions of TACUPSA were the three annual conferences, held in the winter, summer and fall. The materials related to the conferences include programs, schedules, presentation material, and lists of attendees. Preliminary planning material and budgets are also included. These documents illustrate the issues that were important to the members of the organization. An example is the Sex, Lies and Liability conference that was held in the summer of 1993. The issues discussed at this conference included sexual harassment, student judicial cases and incidents, legal issues impacting community colleges, residence hall security issues, and the impact of the American Disabilities Act on college campuses. Evaluation forms that were filled out after the conferences let the organizers know what the organization’s members found important and what could have been improved. The planning documents also record all the work that went into such an event and tell a lot about the activities of the Executive Committee, who were the members responsible for planning and hosting the conferences.
Records specific to the Executive Committee date back to 1986 and include agendas, minutes, budgets, correspondence, materials pertinent to two and four-year representatives, and goals and objectives. Some election records for the Executive Committee exist as well from 2000-2001. These materials reveal much of the inner workings of such a large organization and how it functioned as a whole. Decision-making, both the process and the people involved, is reflected in the Executive Committee records. Records regarding the Research and Graduate Education (RAGE) Commission, later changed to Graduate Education and Research (GEAR), date back to 1992.
Copies of the TACUSPA publications are included in the records, such as The Student Affairs Chronicle, the TACUSPA Tattle, and the TACUSPA Newsletter. The contents of these newsletters included conference information, volunteer opportunities within the organization, services available to members, and other news that affected the organization or members. The publications succinctly illustrate TACUSPA’s activities, allowing some researchers to bypass reading the extensive planning material. They also highlight the types of information that professionals in the field would regularly receive. Included are printouts of the TACUSPA website from 2006.
Membership was well-documented in TACUSPA. Several printed directories are included in the records from 1984 to 2001, with the person’s name, college affiliation, job title, and location. These directories illustrate what types of professionals were members. Deans, assistant deans, student activities directors, and staff members in the residence halls, guidance centers, and financial aid offices are among the job titles represented. These directories also show which colleges and universities were well-represented and therefore influential in the organization. Since the earliest preserved constitution restricted membership to men only, these directories show the strides made by women in this workplace.
Financial records contain receipts, annual reports, and budgets. TACUSPA was a large organization funded by dues-paying members. Therefore, it was important that their financial dealings were scrupulously honest and transparent. These records show the growth of the organization throughout the years, and they demonstrate where TACUSPA focused its financial resources in order to accomplish its goals.
There are operations manuals from 1991 to 2004, which document the various aspects of the organization and instruct the Executive Committee officers on how to run conferences and other activities. The collection contains presidential records of Sandi Osters (1991-1997) and Rusty Jergins (1995-2001). Sandi Osters served as Secretary, President, and Past President. Rusty Jergins served as Four-Year Representative, President, and Past President. Both of their records document Executive Committee meetings and elections, surveys, conference planning and materials, membership records, GEAR Commission materials, newsletters, correspondence and constitution revisions.
A few digital files exist. A 3 ½ inch floppy disk contains a membership database, Lotus spreadsheets to keep up with income and expenses, and various WordPerfect files of forms and a directory of members. One compact disc contains information on the 2003 Fall Conference, another on the 2006 Fall Conference, and a final one kept by the secretary dating from 2001 to 2005. The collection also includes a flash drive containing additional information on the 2006 Fall Conference.
The collection includes several photographs from a 1963 TASPA conference. Another folder contains loose photographs, negatives and materials for newsletters such as newsletter layouts.
There are a number of “general files” which contain information that was not separated out by subject. These include materials similar to files found in other subseries, such as conference materials, newsletters, executive committee files, meeting agendas and minutes, elections records and budgets. Additionally, general files contain items that do not fit in any other category. These include founding documents, such as the constitution and its various revisions, milestones and histories of the organization. The evolution and growth of the organization is evident in these documents.
The quantity and types of records increased steadily throughout the 1960s and 1970s, though there was a significant growth in recordkeeping in the 1980s when TACUSPA began to separate records by subject. However, the largest expansion in the amount of records occurs in the early 1990s when the organization started to record much more information about its three annual conferences.
The files were organized according to organization’s original filing scheme. The early files were arranged chronologically by TACUSPA and kept in this order. Later on, the files were arranged according to subject, and the current arrangement reflects this change.
Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators Records, 1931-2016, Dolph Briscoe Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Shelley Rowland, April 2008.
Subsequent revisions were made by Colleen Hobbs, October 2016.
Detailed Description of the Papers