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Julie Payne-Kirchmeier begins term as NASPA board chair

Will guide the leading association for student affairs in the work of “humanity, healing and hope”

Dr. Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Northwestern’s vice president for Student Affairs and one of the University’s leading voices in support of diversity, equity and social justice, took the helm this week as board chair of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the association for student affairs administrators in higher education.

Julie-Payne Kirchmeier
Julie-Payne Kirchmeier

NASPA is a leading association in higher education and professional home for the field of student affairs. The 103-year-old, member-centered organization supports a diverse, global network of 15,000 professionals across 1,200 institutions and is guided by the principles of integrity, innovation, inclusion and inquiry.

In remarks this week to members of the association, Payne-Kirchmeier said, “As we consider how, over the coming year, we can prepare ourselves for what is to come, as board chair I commit to stewarding our efforts in three primary areas — that of centering humanity in our work, facilitating healing and elevating hope.”

On the topic of hope, she explained, “I have said in several spaces that, given our work and our expertise, student affairs professionals are often the ‘keepers of critical hope’ on our campuses. Critical hope allows us to both realistically assess what currently is, through a lens of equity and justice, while concurrently envisioning a better future.”

Since joining Northwestern in 2012, Payne-Kirchmeier has served a number of roles within the Division of Student Affairs. She began her tenure as assistant vice president for student auxiliary services, was promoted to associate vice president and chief of staff in 2016 and became interim vice president in 2019. She was appointed vice president in March 2020 after a nationwide search.

Before coming to Northwestern, she worked in student-facing roles at Southern Illinois University and the University of Southern Indiana. She refers to herself a transplanted Texan who now calls the Midwest home. She received a bachelor’s degree in genetics and a master’s degree in student affairs administration from Texas A&M University. She later earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership and administration from Indiana State University.

I have said in several spaces that, given our work and our expertise, student affairs professionals are often the ‘keepers of critical hope’ on our campuses.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Julie Payne-Kirchmeier

A NASPA member for 26 years, Payne-Kirchmeier served as Womxn in Student Affairs (WISA) Knowledge Community co-coordinator, Region IV-E director, a member of the board of directors from 2017-2019 and, most recently, board chair-elect in 2020-2021.

"I am very excited that Julie will be leading our association,” said Dr. Angela Batista, immediate past board chair. “She has served in a variety of leadership roles within NASPA and has much to offer. She understands the gravity of the many issues impacting the work of student affairs and will maintain a steady focus on supporting our members. I look forward to supporting her leadership and efforts to advance NASPA and our profession during these turbulent times in higher education.”

In closing her remarks to NASPA members, Payne-Kirchmeier championed both the value student affairs staff bring, and member engagement as she quoted a line from another past Board chair, Dr. Penny Rue, vice president for campus life at Wake Forest University, saying, “People care about what they help to create.”

“I am hopeful that each of our members can see their worth and value, and that you take the opportunity — in whatever way you choose — to contribute to this important and meaningful work,” Payne-Kirchmeier said.

“I am excited to see where we will take NASPA as a community as we work toward the realization of our vision — fulfilling the promise of higher education — on behalf of our members, our association and, most importantly, the students we are honored to serve each and every day. Thank you for trusting me; I will do all that I can to deserve it.”

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