Navigating Uncertainty and Change in the
Student Affairs Profession
When flying, oftentimes the transition
between flying into clouds or out of clouds is bumpy. It’s referred
to as turbulence. Flight crews understand turbulence for what
it is and instinctively differentiate normal turbulence from more
dangerous turbulence. That specialized understanding equips crews to
respond to the needs and concerns of the passengers.
Randy Mitchell maintains that the
student affairs profession is experiencing turbulence. He states:
"To plot a reliable course through uncertainty and
change...we...must be capable of effectively using three navigational
- Instruments: the ability to fly on
instruments when we’re not really sure what’s out there. These
are resources we use to achieve our goals.
- Instincts: using our intuition and
intrinsic abilities to make quick decisions. These are innate
aspects of our behavior.
- Institutions: accomplishing tasks
through cooperation with the organized bodies of people we work
with. These are interactions that help us build effective
By using the instruments, instincts,
and institutions available, student affairs professionals can function
as well-equipped flight crews that know instinctively about turbulence
and are able to guide their staffs, students, parents, and others
through uncertainty or exhilarating times.