Texas Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers

Texas Public Universities

COSS/VP – A Historical Perspective

While TACUSPA had been around since 1925, a state-wide organization for senior student affairs officers did not come together until the mid 1980s.  Organizations for the senior academic and business affairs officers had already formed and their members were meeting and communicating regularly.

Wayne Duke, the Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington, recognized the need for a SSAO organization and called his colleagues from the State’s public universities to a meeting on his campus.

Wayne recalled the following about that meeting held in 1986:

During the two days of discussions, we were able to agree on the following.  1. The purpose of the organization would be to provide a mechanism through which the chief student affairs officers could meet on a regular basis and discuss issues/problems of mutual concern.  This would provide an opportunity for positive feedback as well as constructive suggestions for addressing problems.  2. Some individuals expressed concern that the organization should not get involved in political matters.  There was general consensus on this issue.  3. The members of the organization agreed that they could cooperate in sharing information from their colleagues that would be helpful in decision making.  An example would be sharing of salary data.  4. The name of the organization would be The Council of Student Services Vice Presidents (COSS/VP).  5. Additional structure and details such as dues, constitution, etc. were to be worked out in future discussions. (November 27, 2012 letter to Frank Lamas)

The three “conspirators” in getting COSS/VP organized were Wayne Duke, UTA, John Koldus, Texas A&M, and Van Wyatt, UH Clear Lake.  They served as the first three chairs of the new organization.

Van recalls the formation in this way:

. . . it grew out of an awareness for the need for CSAOs to develop an organization equivalent to the Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Council of Provosts, etc., that already were active in the state.  While we were all very active in TACUSPA, there was no vehicle for the VPs to meet and routinely discuss matters that crossed institutional boundaries.  Typical topics included the state of “Student Service Fee” caps, the growing list of other dedicated fees, and the general lack of any dedicated general revenue funding for student affairs.  There were also ongoing discussions of various campus policies, procedures and best practices.  At least in the early years there was a lot of synergy among the CSAOs between COSS/VP and TACUSPA activities…a lot of focused discussion on staff development and career mentoring opportunities. (November 29, 2012 letter to Don Albrecht)

COSS/VP has stayed true to its original purpose of providing the senior student affairs officers with an avenue to meet regularly and discuss concerns.  While fees and budgets are ongoing discussion items, student success, compliance issues, behavioral intervention, concealed handguns on campus, unfunded mandates, criminal background checks, and student learning objectives are being discussed with regularity. 

In 2013, COSS/VP began holding joint meetings with the Texas Council of Chief Academic Officers to discuss common concerns.  Topics included outcomes of the 2013 Texas Legislature, changes at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and behavioral interventions, among others.

COSS/VP remains a strong and vital organization and currently meets three times a year—spring, summer and fall.  SSAOs from the various university systems take advantage of the scheduled meetings to gather and discuss system-related issues.  The spring meeting is typically held in Austin; the summer meeting is held in an extended retreat format; and the fall meeting is held in conjunction with the TACUSPA Annual Conference.

A list of the officers who have served COSS/VP since the beginning is located on the website.  We are especially grateful for the three original “conspirators” who provided a vision and solid foundation for the organization that continues to support the campuses and the best interests, growth, and development of the students of Texas today.

Don D. Albrecht, Ph.D.

TACUSPA Historian

November 12, 2013


On October 5, 2016 at the Annual TACUSPA Conference meeting in Corpus Christi, Steve Westbrook, COSS/VP Chair 2015-17, presented a proposed name change to Texas Chief Student Affairs Officers.

As the profession had evolved and not all members had the title Vice President, it appeared appropriate for the name of the organization to reflect members’ status as the Chief Student Affairs Officer on their respective campus. As such, Steve requested Don Albrecht, Darlene Biggers, and Wanda Mercer to study the situation and recommend a new name for the organization. Members discussed the options of using “senior” versus “chief” and decided on chief, primarily to match our professional organization counterparts.

The motions to change the name as well as required constitution and by-law changes were made and passed. Subsequent to this meeting, Steve distributed an e-mail ballot to the members recommending the word “council” be added to the name. By unanimous vote, COSS/VP became the Texas Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers (TCCSAO) on November 9, 2015.

May 19, 2016

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