What is Student Affairs and how do we support student success?

Students celebrate graduation at the Commencement Walk across the Oval in April. Photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography

I strongly believe that for students to excel in the classroom, we need to provide opportunities for good physical and mental health, a sense of connection, academic resources, productive places to study, nutritious meals, and safe places to live. From orientation to graduation, the Division of Student Affairs is here to help students navigate complex University processes, identify resources, and find a sense of belonging and connection; that is the most succinct way I can define what we do and how it impacts student success.

It is our job to work with every college and office on campus to make sure students have the resources and support they need to be successful at Colorado State. We decided to call this SOURCE Special Edition Partners in Student Success because nothing we do in Student Affairs would be possible without strong collaborations across the University, active participation from parents and family members, and engagement with our students.

Finding a sense of belonging at a large institution like CSU can be challenging. As a first-generation student myself, I know how intimidating college can be. In Student Affairs, we create intentional communities to help foster connections including Living Learning Communities like Key, first-generation programs, support for students aging out of the foster system, groups for student veterans, more than 500 student clubs and organizations, and the cultural and resource centers (Asian Pacific American Cultural Center, Black/African American Cultural Center, El Centro, Native American Cultural Center, Pride Resource Center, Student Disability Center, Women and Gender Advocacy Center).

Blanche Hughes

Editor’s note: Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs at Colorado State University, wrote this piece as part of a special edition for SOURCE.

Student Affairs is the largest division at CSU and encompasses major operations like Housing & Dining Services, Lory Student Center, the Student Recreation Center, and the CSU Health Network. We also incorporate dozens of smaller offices including Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement; Student Legal Services; Academic Advancement Center; Adult Learner and Veteran Services; Parent & Family Programs; and the Student Resolution Center, just to name a few.

We partner across the University to ensure year-round campus operations with summer school housing, orientation, conference and event services, and courses, research, and retreats at the CSU Mountain Campus.

I have been with Student Affairs at CSU for nearly 40 years and am incredibly proud of the evolution I have seen in supporting the whole student. As part of our land-grant mission, 25% of students at CSU are first generation and many of our students require financial assistance to pay for tuition. Our student body is growing more diverse and we continue to welcome students from around the world.

“I have been with Student Affairs at CSU for nearly 40 years and am incredibly proud of the evolution I have seen in supporting the whole student.”

— Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs

I see our role in Student Affairs as increasing access for all students, particularly our underrepresented students who often face additional obstacles in attending college. Much has changed in higher education during my tenure at CSU, particularly this past year with all the challenges the pandemic presented.

The pandemic, political unrest, and racial injustice this past year have pushed us to do our work in new and more inclusive ways. I am so grateful and proud that we were able to offer in-person experiences and innovative virtual services this year when many institutions were not, and as we look ahead to more in-person engagement in the year ahead, I am excited to see the innovations and lessons learned applied to our future endeavors.

Partners in Student Success

Partners in Student Success is a special collaboration between the Division of Student Affairs and SOURCE that highlights the impact of collaboration across the University in helping students succeed. Experience more at source.colostate.edu/partners-in-student-success.