What is it like to be a university president? How does a career in student affairs prepare leaders for the presidency? What should student affairs leaders who are considering a presidency know about the role?

On this episode of Student Affairs Live, host Keith Edwards speaks with three university presidents who started their career as student affairs leaders. This free episode will air live on Wednesday, October 23 at 2 pm ET. To watch the archived video, just return to this page at any point after the episode airs.

If you have questions for our panelists, in advance of the episode please email keith@keithedwards.com or tweet @KeithEPhD with your question and Keith will incorporate it into the dialogue. We will also take questions during the episode via the Twitter backchannel at #higheredlive.


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Episode Host

Keith Edwards

Keith Edwards

Over the past 18 years Keith (he/him/his) has spoken and consulted at more than 200 colleges and universities, presented more than 200 programs at national conferences, and written more than 20 articles or book chapters on curricular approaches, sexual violence prevention, men’s identity, social justice education, and leadership. His research, writing, and speaking have received national awards and recognition including ACPA Dissertation of the Year and ACPA Diamond Honoree. His TEDx Talk on Ending Rape has been viewed around the world. Keith is also a certified executive and leadership coach for individuals who are looking to unleash their fullest potential. Keith was the Director of Campus Life at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN from 2007 – 2015 where he provided leadership for the areas of residential life, student activities, conduct, and orientation. He was an affiliate faculty member in the Leadership in Student Affairs program at the University of St. Thomas, where he taught graduate courses on diversity and social justice in higher education for 8 years.


Javaune Adams-Gaston

Javaune Adams-Gaston Ph.D is President of Norfolk State University. With more than 30 years of higher education experience, Javaune Adams-Gaston Ph.D. has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of students through her work at nationally recognized institutions of higher learning. At those institutions — the University of Maryland, College Park and The Ohio State University — she was a pioneer. The first African-American assistant athletic director (Division 1) and the first female African-American Vice President for Student Life. Her success has come through her ability and commitment to building meaningful, productive relationships that lay the foundation for collaboration, community-building and progress and success.


Tom Jackson, Jr

Tom Jackson, Jr. is the 8th President of Humboldt State University. He began his tenure at HSU in June 2019, bringing strong leadership experience and a proven commitment to supporting student success. “There are few institutions that are as closely tied to the success of their respective communities as HSU,” President Jackson says. “A degree from HSU can lift the life of the person earning it as well as the lives of their family, and those degree holders drive the success of the entire North Coast.” President Jackson previously served as President of Black Hills State University in South Dakota. He has held other leadership roles within higher education including Vice President for Student Affairs at both the University of Louisville and Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He has also held administrative positions at McMurry University, University of Texas at El Paso, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the University of Southern California, and St. Mary’s University. Jackson earned an associate’s degree from Highline Community College, a bachelor’s degree in business management/personnel from Southwest Minnesota State University, a master’s in counseling/student personnel from Shippensburg University, and a doctorate of education from the University of La Verne. A first-generation student, Jackson is also a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, Texas State Guard, and Indiana Guard Reserve.


John Hernandez

Dr. John Hernandez was appointed President of Santiago Canyon College (SCC) in July 2017. Reporting to the community college district chancellor, his responsibilities include planning, organizing and implementing educational policy and procedures to develop curriculum and student support services; budget management; enhancing partnerships with business, governmental and community organizations, as well as with K-12 and higher education institutions in the area; and leading the institution’s fund development efforts. Since 2005, Dr. Hernandez served as Vice President for Student Services at SCC where he has been an advocate for increasing opportunities for students and for partnering with others to provide a seamless delivery of support services. In that role, he established external partnerships with local school districts and four-year universities to create collaborative programs to increase student access and success. As an integral member of the President’s Executive Leadership Team, he played a key role in the development of college policy and participates in institutional planning, management, and advancement.