The on-campus, and now Ecampus, master’s program celebrates its 50 year anniversary with a new director and intention to establish a new emphasis on collegiate athletics within student affairs

Kirsten Hextrum

Kirsten Hextrum

By Ellie Webb-Bowen, CLA Student Writer - December 2, 2023

Housed in the School of Language, Culture, and Society at the College of Liberal Arts the CSSA program supplies master’s students  with an intersectional, feminist, anti-racist educational foundation to help them better serve other college students in future higher-education administration capacities. 

As of this year, the program has been in existence for 50 years, and within CLA for the past seven,  with the goal of attracting and graduating culturally and intellectually diverse individuals to work in student affairs and other areas of higher education. After decades of moderate success, the program looks to grow and has hired a tenured-track professor dedicated to its advancement.  

Dr. Kirsten Hextrum started in fall 2022 as an assistant professor and before that she was assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma. Her initiative to add a focus on collegiate athletics in this program stems from her past experiences working in academic support for student-athletes.

“I see a natural area of growth,” said Hextrum, who spent seven years working specifically in the academic support unit for student-athletes at UC Berkeley. Hextrum’s book, Special Admission: How College Sports Recruitment Favors White Suburban Athletes, documents how white, middle-class youth become overrepresented on college teams.

Dr. Hextrum is advocating for individuals with diverse backgrounds to get involved in the program, as well as student-athletes. “Representation is everything, especially in college student services and sports,” said Hextrum. “Higher education is still the primary place where we are offering people a chance at upward mobility and to improve their own community.” The program, Hextrum explains, is suited to those who have interests in student affairs, student-facing roles, and those who are passionate about social change. 

College athletes play an important role in community cohesion. They are frequently looked up to by students and supported on a larger scale by the university. The CSSA program provides "a real opportunity" to help prepare college athletes for careers in higher-education after graduation. 

“We have always had a first, foremost, and forever commitment to issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging” said Hextrum. The program focuses on these areas through how they recruit students, meet with them, frame the program, and think about each and every class. 

“Thanks to Dr. Hextrum,” said OSU track and field student-athlete Grace Fetherstonhaugh. “I have been able to incorporate my own experience as an athlete into the CSSA master's program . 

Fetherstonhaugh continues, “This program’s emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to apply to collegiate athletics in order to best serve student-athletes and to create systemic changes. I believe the CSAA program will prepare its students to be successful, action orientated, and visionary student affairs practitioners " 

Hextrum emphasizes that student affairs is typically not something that many people realize can be a career path, however impactful work by student affairs specialists assist students in embarking on a lifelong journey of growth and self-discovery.