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Consider a career in student affairs administration, a profession that supports college students and promotes learning outside of the classroom.


Program Overview

Course Modality Options

To meet the differing needs of students, our faculty teach courses in Hy-Flex classrooms providing the option of attending in person or online. Typically, students register in three courses Fall/Spring semesters. Current higher education professionals may prefer the option of taking two classes online Fall/Spring Semesters + Summer Session. Classes meet weekdays in the evening (6-8:20 pm). SSU HESA brings together current and aspiring higher education professionals for a dynamic intergenerational experience where we learn collectively from the wealth of experience that exists within recent college graduates and those who have been working in higher education for many years. Student work closely with our lead advisor to determine the program of study and course modality that will best meet their needs.


Our faculty, like our students reflect diversity in their racial and ethnic identity, gender, sexual orientation, personal and professional backgrounds. Our courses are taught by full time faculty, as well as administrators in leadership positions at SSU and other colleges and universities in the region. HESA students grow exponentially in their knowledge, professionalism, and confidence as a result of being part of a learning community facilitated by a dynamic collection of scholar practitioners.


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Dr. Vu Tran: HESA Advisor, Visiting Professor, and Associate Director of Student Services

Dr. Tran is the primary point of contact for HESA providing advising and facilitating community building to ensure a quality experience for students. Dr. Tran teaches Higher Education Administration and Organization drawing insight from his primary role as Associate Director for Student Services in the McKeown School of Education. Dr Tran has over ten years of progressive professional experience as a manager, trainer, and educator. His professional passions include training, facilitation, and diversity and inclusion. Dr. Tran has conducted research on age and generational differences, which aims to bridge the generational gap that exists within age-diverse organizations.

Schedule a meeting with Dr. Tran to learn more about the HESA program:

Core HESA Faculty:


Dr. Vijay Kanagala: Associate Professor of Education HESA.

Dr. Kanagala, former student affairs practitioner with experience in multicultural student affairs, Dr. Kanagala focuses his research on three interconnected topics: the college access, success, and completion of low-income, first-generation college students; intersectionality of education, immigration, and social identities such as race, class, gender, and religion; and contemplative pedagogy, education, healing, and empowerment.


Shawn Newton: Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.

Dean Newton has worked in Higher Education for over 25 years. He was the first Chair of the Salem Race Equity Task Force and recently co-founded the Newton Consultancy Group, which provides diversity and inclusion workshops, conflict resolution services and higher education consulting. He has also previously worked as Dean of Students at Suffolk University and in student affairs at Salem State.


Dr. Alan Acosta: Visiting Assistant Professor.

Dr. Acosta is a higher education professional with 14 years of experience as an associate dean of students, assistant director for residence life, and residence coordinator, all roles he held at Florida State University.


Dr. Steven Thurston Oliver: Professor of Education & Department Chair Secondary and Higher Education.

Dr. Oliver’s research centers on Contemplative Pedagogy as a catalyst for increasing the capacity of educators to engage across human differences. Dr. Oliver teaches Theories of Student Development and LGBTQ Issues in Higher Education.


Dr. Kevin Piskaldo: Visiting Assistant Professor.

Dr. Piskaldo has been a visiting Assistant Professor in the Higher Education in Student Affairs (HESA) program since the fall of 2011, most often teaching Theories of Student Development. In addition to teaching in the Higher

Education in Student Affairs program at Salem State University, Kevin is the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Stonehill College.


Dr. Nicole Harris: Associate Dean, Mckeown School of Education.

Dr. Harris holds a PhD in Education with specializations in Higher Education Administration and Multicultural/Multilingual Enrollment Development and a Masters in Higher Education, Student Services from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.


Dr. Carlos Vega: Visiting Assistant Professor.

Dr. Vega currently serves as the Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Vega is an experienced admission professional with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry as well as with collegiate student athletes. Dr. Vega earned a Ph.D. focused on Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from University of Vermont.

The HESA program takes advantage of our proximity to the Greater Boston metropolitan region and the numerous institutions of higher education (public, private four-year, two-year, technical/trade schools, etc.) to offer our students a plethora of practicum opportunities that introduce them to different functional areas in students affairs. Students gain a breadth of experience, develop professional skills, and learn about a specific student affairs or higher education functional area - other than their assistantship. Several of these opportunities are paid positions and provide additional stipend to our students. The HESA program coordinator and/or the practicum course instructor assist students with identifying these opportunities. 

The focus of our practicum courses is the integration of theory and practice whereby students develop their own praxis. Each practicum course has an in-class component and a site-based practical component. Currently, the HESA curriculum requires one practicum course and encourages students to consider taking the second practicum course to fulfill one of the three required electives. In EDU 985A: Practicum in Student Affairs I, students focus on identity-conscious supervision in student affairs and in EDU 985B: Practicum in Student Affairs II, students focus on legal issues in student affairs.

Each practicum includes 150 hours of supervised fieldwork in a higher education/student affairs organizational setting and attending five to seven seminar classes with a course instructor. The course instructor works very closely with the student and the practicum supervisor to develop clear learning outcomes, establish explicit expectations for projects and of supervisor, and formalize evaluation criteria through a learning contract. Students are encouraged to examine different supervisory styles as they complete their practicum. Both site-based practical components may be completed at Salem State University or at another institution with permission of the HESA program coordinator.

Below is a sample of past practicum sites at select institutions:

  • Bentley University

    • Advising
    • Career Services
    • Center for International Students and Scholars
    • New Student Orientation Programs 
  • Emmanuel College
    • Orientation
  • Endicott College
    • Community Standards
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • LGBTQ+ Services
    • Multicultural Programs
    • New Student Programs
    • Wellness and Support
  • North Shore Community College
    • Advising
    • TRiO Programs
  • Northeastern University
    • Career Services
    • Fraternity & Sorority Life
  • Salem State University
    • First Year Experience
    • Center for Inclusive Excellence
    • Center for Justice and Liberation
    • Community of Inclusive Scholars
    • Community Standards
    • HESA Program - Visit Days 
    • McKeown School of Education - Student Services
    • Residence Life
    • Student Transition and Engagement Program (STEP)
  • Tufts University
    • School of Medicine
  • University of Massachusetts Boston
    • Academic and Career Engagement and Success Center (ACES)
    • Dean of Students
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
    • Advising
    • Career Services
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