On Sunday, at the National Association for Campus Activities National Convention, I presented a Pecha Kucha presentation that referenced two of David Ambler’s Guidelines for Working with Students. Dr. Ambler was the Chief Student Affairs Officer at Kent State University in 1970, and these Guidelines were part of his first speech to his staff as he “began the academic year that follows one of the worst tragedies in American higher education.”
As I said in my presentation, this philosophy has been on my desk literally for my entire career and shaped the way I do my work. I have mentally adapted the tenants to apply to “staff” and “people”, not just students, and it has always served me well.
Several people have asked for a copy of the complete quotation. I am happy to provide it below.
A Total Experience: Guidelines for Working with Students
by David Ambler
1. Know as many students as you possibly can and know them well. Nothing is done without this individual relationship.
2. Be honest with yourself and others. It does no good to tell students what you think they want to hear.
3. Realize that your position is at best nondescript. No job description or cookbook will ever substitute for your native intelligence and the qualities which have led to your selection for this job.
4. Be available. There is no such thing as a “standard work day.” The job is time consuming and restrictive, but rewarding.
5. Deal with the important and relevant aspects of your position. Avoid getting burned out in dealing with petty differences.
6. Recognize that the values and attitudes you take to your position, will, to a great extent, determine the way many students react to us all.
7. Understand that you work more by persuasion and the power of your personality than any amount of formal authority.
8. Treat each student with the dignity and respect that you want for yourself.
9. Accept the fact that we are not an end to ourselves. With each new program and student, we should work toward the end of eliminating our necessity.
10. Finally, never underestimate the power of your influence on a student. Your conduct and conversation are what you are — a model for others.