Academic Affairs Professionals: An Identity Perspective



Banning Eckert, Brydin

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This thesis seeks to acknowledge and understand the professional identity of academic affairs professionals: the staff and administrative faculty who support the academic enterprise at colleges and universities from within academic departments. Grounded by literature pertaining to relevant proximal populations, including faculty, student affairs professionals, and mid-level administrations, this study employed a phenomenological approach and considered professional identity through the lens of social identity theory. Twenty-one self-identified academic affairs professionals employed by a large Mid-Atlantic university were interviewed, and the analysis of the interview transcripts suggests that there may be a common identity reflected by academic affairs professionals that is characterized by a hybrid, problem solving, and consultative nature that values service and relationships. However, this identity is not generally considered to be a collective identity in that it is not acknowledged within the population to be universally shared amongst academic affairs professionals. The premise that there may be common but not collective identity suggests that academic affairs professionals form a distinct group within the higher education landscape but could benefit from efforts to codify and organize the profession.



Academic affairs, Social identity theory, Professional identity, Higher education professionals