Susan Salvador (2010-2011)
“I believe that ACPA has always had that strong sense of spirit – one that’s connected to positivity, growth, inclusion, transparency.”
Dr. Susan Salvador served as ACPA’s seventy-first president from 2010-2011. As a person who held many positions and led countless initiatives, her work was defined through love: a love for community colleges, a love for the transfer student experience, and for the ACPA family that she found.
Dr. Salvador hails from New York, as her upbringing took place in North Greenbush, which is only 15 minutes from Albany. She has three siblings – an older brother, an older sister, and a younger brother. With an Irish mother and an Italian father, “strong-knit” is how she describes her family, which has always been very important to her.
She spent much of her life in New York, which proved true when she chose to attend the private liberal arts school Siena College in Loudonville for her bachelor’s degree. Her major was psychology, but she was introduced to the field of student affairs at the end of her first semester when she met her residence director. It was this conversation that sparked her interest in what would become her future career. “It was then that I knew I wanted to be a chief student affairs officer,” she says. Her psychology degree helped intertwine her passion for counseling with the area of higher education.
The first step in pursuing her career was the choice to leave her home state and attend the Pennsylvania State University, where she received an M.S. in counselor education (college student personnel services). It was here that she began making lifelong connections, even meeting Dr. Heidi Levine, who would eventually be ACPA Vice President during Salvador’s presidency. Her first job was area coordinator at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “I was hired when they were just establishing the residence life portion of housing and residence life,”she says. She emphasizes how much she loved the job because of how the students looked up to those in the role. After three years in Cleveland, she was ready for the next step in her journey and received her Ed.D. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan.
It would be an understatement to say that Dr. Salvador’s career flourished, with positions such as Vice President of Student Services at Monroe Community College in Rochester and representative to the League for Innovation in the Community College. She fell in love with the atmosphere of community colleges and the diverse student bodies within those spaces. Dr. Salvador served as a contributing author to Learning Reconsidered: A Campus-wide Focus on the Student Experience, a joint ACPA and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) publication, as well as served on the national writing team to produce the inventory statements for the Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs, sponsored by ACPA and NASPA. She has also written articles on the impact and philosophical change of residence halls within two-year colleges.
Prior to her ACPA presidency, she served as Director of Commissions, , an ACPA Educational Leadership Foundation and on the Senior Student Affairs Advisory Board. After she became ACPA President, she focused on the proposed consolidation of ACPA and NASPA. If she could describe ACPA in one word, it would be spirit. “I believe that ACPA has always had that strong sense of spirit – one that’s connected to positivity, growth, inclusion, transparency,” she says.
She highlights that student affairs as a profession has always been about the ability to speak up and have your own unique voice. “Whatever you believe in that is important or necessary, you need to hold on to,”she says, particularly to students or professionals who are just entering the field. Mentorship is an aspect of the profession that she holds close to her, as she still seeks the insight of those who have helped her most throughout her life.
The symbolization of the compass is important to Dr. Salvador. She keeps a compass in her car and on her desk to remind her of her true North, and to align herself with her own personal compass of values in life. She has always appreciated Invictus by William Ernest Henley, in which he writes (in the last stanza):
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.