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Kimberly Blea Leads Small Colleges and Universities in Organization

March 24, 2021

photo of Kimberly Blea

Kimberly Blea
Photo by Ashley Arellanes

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University Dean of Students Kimberly Blea is serving in a top leadership role with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

Blea is the director of NASPA’s Small College and Universities Division. NASPA is an international organization that is the professional home to student affairs administrators in higher education.

“The Small Colleges and Universities Division provides leadership in higher education to promote understanding of small college and university missions, challenges, and opportunities,” Blea said. “The division ensures that NASPA’s programmatic and policy directions respond appropriately to small institutions – defined as those enrolling less than 5,000 students – and their unique needs.”

Blea said she is leading a NASPA division that represents a wide diversity of small colleges and universities.

“This includes institutions such as public and private, rural and urban, as well as minority-serving institutions such as Hispanic-Serving Institutions like Highlands, ones that serve indigenous people, and ones that historically have served African-Americans, and more,” Blea said.

Blea said she is learning new strategies from other small universities that could potentially be implemented at Highlands.

“For example, there is the opportunity to network and learn about what other small institutions are doing as it relates to providing student-centered services, justice/equity/diversity/inclusion efforts, and professional development for student affairs personnel,” Blea said.

Blea said small colleges and universities nationwide are facing enrollment challenges, budget concerns, and shifting student demographics.

“This presents both opportunities and challenges. The challenges include how do we do more with less resources? How do we meet the needs of all students from an equity perspective? These challenges give us opportunities to be creative, reimagine how we support the needs of all our students, and strategically allocate resources that will have the greatest impact,” Blea said.

Blea said her work on the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators board benefits Highlands.

“First, it provides national visibility for Highlands. Second, it provides the opportunity to share the great things Highlands has to offer,” Blea said.