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These early student affairs practitioners' focus was on control of the student as opposed to modern philosophy which focuses on the development of the student as a whole, but has always connected those interested in the welfare of students with students needing assistance.In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the number of land-grant institutions increased, enrollment expanded, student populations began to include women, the idea of vocationalism began to influence academics and the institution's president began to be viewed as "the chief moral front".
Student affairs draws its origins on the Oxbridge model and the Anglo-American concept that schools stand in loco parentis, creating a greater legal obligation for the university to govern student life.However, professional student affairs administration in the United Kingdom is of relatively recent date: student affairs departments became a feature of all United Kingdom universities in 1992, having previously been widespread only in the new universities.Early higher education in the United States was based on the Oxbridge model of education; thus, most early institutions were residential and the tutors lived in the halls with the students.These student affairs practitioners work to provide services and support for students and drive student learning outside of the classroom at institutions of higher education.The size and organization of a student affairs division or department may vary based on the size, type, and location of an institution.In 1929, forty-six NAAS members registered for the Sixth Annual Convention.
NAAS became the National Association of Personnel and Placement Officers (NAPPO).
Not only were women at colleges and universities a new development, but women as staff members even more new.
The institutional leadership was dominated by men, but still they persevered including the founding of what is now the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in 1903.
The title of the head of student affairs also varies widely; traditionally in the United States, this position has been known as the "dean of students", as distinguished from the academic dean or the deans of individual schools with in a university.
In some institutions today, student affairs departments are led by a vice president or vice chancellor who then reports directly to the president/chancellor of the institution.
The work of student affairs is critical across all institutional types, but essential at a community college, an open access to institution.