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Graduate Assistantship Core Competencies

All Student Affairs graduate assistants at Shepherd University are expected to exhibit a specific set of basic skills and attributes while working in their assigned assistantship. While there may be some specific skills required by individual departments, the following competency areas are essential to all.

The competency areas (listed alphabetically) are:

Commitment to Diversity and Multiculturalism

All graduate assistants must demonstrate their commitment to diversity and multiculturalism by exploring their uniqueness as individuals and as members of a diverse community. Graduate assistants must also be committed to helping students develop beyond mere understanding and tolerance, toward greater appreciation and acceptance.

“Shepherd University comprises a community that includes students, faculty, staff, alumni, and involved citizens. We meet the needs of this community through assessment, development, and implementation of innovative programs and initiatives. We strive to create a safe environment based on mutual respect and acceptance of differences.” (Shepherd University Mission Statement and Statement of Core Values)

Effective Communication Skills

All graduate assistants must demonstrate effective communication skills, both written and oral. Graduate students, in conjunction with professional staff members, are often tasked with presenting at committee, department, or division meetings. This includes, but is not limited to, good interpersonal communications, conflict resolution skills, and understanding one’s own feelings and abilities regarding effective communication.


All graduate assistants should feel empowered to take initiative on committee, department and division projects. This includes, but is not limited to, active participation at meetings, volunteering at opportunities that are presented, and effective follow-through on assigned tasks.

Passion for Learning

Graduate students will demonstrate their passion for learning, both inside and outside of the classroom. This requires active participation in all responsibilities of the assistantship, including department and division meetings.

“Shepherd University creates a community of learners who integrate teaching, scholarship, and learning into their lives. In order to create challenging, relevant experiences, inside and outside of the classroom, the University continually evaluates and assesses student learning. We recognize and accommodate diverse learning styles and perspectives necessary for global understanding.” (Shepherd University Mission Statement and Statement of Core Values)


All graduate assistants must demonstrate professionalism through effective role modeling, personal accountability, integrity, and professional work ethic. Graduate assistants must also dress appropriately for assigned hours and tasks.

“Shepherd University strives for an environment of honesty and fairness in its actions. University officials seek input from students, faculty, and staff and make informed and objective decisions. We expect all members of the community to act in accordance with this value.” (Shepherd University Mission Statement and Statement of Core Values)

Time Management & Organization

All graduate assistants must demonstrate effective time management and organization skills. This is essential in managing job responsibilities, as well as academic commitments. This includes, but is not limited to, being prompt at all meetings and assistantship hours, attention to detail, and prompt response to all requests made my professional staff.

For more information on professional competencies or ethics for student affairs practitioners, please visit:

American College Personnel Association (ACPA)
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA)