Formation of the Association of Christians in Student Development
In 1955, two Christian deans of women at a Rhode Island college initiated and invited deans of women from other institutions to come to a three day gathering for shared counsel and fellowship. This group met in March 1955 on the campus of Providence-Barrington Bible College, Rhode Island. In 1956 they met again at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina. During this second meeting they established the structure of a new organization, selected executive officers and chose the name “Christian Association of Deans of Women” or CADW.
Parallel to this, in 1955, deans of men who were part of the National Association of Deans and Advisors of Men began to gather at Moody Bible College in Chicago. In 1957, they decided to formalize their meetings and created the Association of Christian Deans and Advisors of Men (ACDAM) with a purpose of not only encouragement and fellowship, but a desire to examine topics pertinent to student affairs from a Christian perspective.
In early 1977, Gene Hovee, the president of the ACDAM, wrote to the leadership of the CADW. He posed the exploratory and unofficial question about whether there would be any interest or benefit in merging the two organizations. The CADW leadership politely declined the invitation, but were willing to continue discussing this possibility at a future date.
A year later, in June 1978, while Hovee presided over the annual business meeting of the ACDAM, the relationship with the CADW arose once again. Six men were appointed by the association to study the matter of their relationship with the CADW. In anticipating that a formal organizational relationship might occur in the future, the ACDAM leadership sought to begin eliminating gender specific terminology from their literature and business documents. The executive authorized changing their terminology to more gender neutral language, specifically within their constitution and by-laws. Interestingly, in spite of a growing desire for cooperation, the CADW voted in a parallel meeting to remain organizationally autonomous.
In June of 1979, the ACDAM voted to change its name to the gender neutral Christian Association for Student Affairs (CASA). In November of that year, the leadership of CASA was joined by the executive leadership of CADW. Discussion about the possible merger continued with the suggestion that a sample constitution and by-laws be created for the executive committee of each organization to consider.
In February 1980, Miriam Uphouse, president of CADW, wrote to all of the organization’s members. She outlined the numerous practical benefits of a possible merger with CASA as well as a history of the dialogue about this issue. The CADW then polled their membership asking what they desired with regards to a merger with CASA. At CASA and CADW’s annual June meeting, both groups passed motions to dissolve their organizations, and form a new one together.
On June 5, 1980, the Association for Christians in Student Development was birthed. In response to the original concerns about numbers, power and representation, two presidents were proposed (one from each of the past organizations) for the initial “transition" year. Thus Don Boender (formerly of CASA) and Miriam Uphouse (formerly of CADW) served as joint presidents of ACSD for this first year of the association.
Article written by David M. Johnstone, George Fox University