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National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education

Our international organization for presidential assistants (PAs) and other professionals supporting higher education leaders offers a long list of resources founded on a vast framework of cooperative association. Cultivating alliances with each other, likeminded organizations, and institutions- we offer our members a powerful venue to share professional experiences and ideas that spearhead personal successes. Listed below is a comprehensive list of services we offer our members.

  • Online Resources
  • Discussion Boards
  • Annual Conferences
  • Webinars

Benefits of Membership

Annual Conference

NAPAHE typically meets once each year, in the spring, for the Annual National Conference. Colleagues from colleges and universities around the country, and internationally, join together to network, exchange ideas in interactive sessions, explore and discuss topics of mutual interest, and have fun in a professional networking environment.

Keynote speakers have included numerous college and university presidents, trustees, vice presidents, Congressional staff, executive recruiters, communications specialists, marketing and branding experts, and humorists.

Join us at the annual conference to broaden your knowledge in:

  • Higher Education issues
  • Executive speech writing
  • Strategic planning
  • Event management
  • Relation and coalition building
  • Fundraising and advancement activities
  • University communications
  • Legislative and governmental affairs
  • Survival techniques for presidential assistants
  • Career enhancement and advancement
  • Presidential office management

e- Round Table Discussion Board

The value of NAPAHE comes not just from the resources you gain, but also from the relationships that are developed. Each person brings to the table unique experiences, knowledge and wisdom. That is why we are thrilled about our latest tool: the NAPAHE e-Round Table.

How to utilize the e-Round Table:

  • Ask a question to the group
  • Take a poll
  • Share resources that you found helpful
  • Get advice with challenging situations

NAPAHE Website

Membership also unlocks other member-only areas of the website, filled with useful and timely information for presidential assistants (PAs) and other professionals supporting higher education leaders.

As a member, you'll find resources such as links to sites that are of special interest, such as speech writing, job descriptions, national associations, federal and legislative issues, salary data and other hot topics. You will also find archives, contact information for our board of directors, volunteer and engagement opportunities, and information about membership renewal.

The site grows and changes each year, and new members are always welcome to contribute their work, ideas and photographs.

Ready to start reaping all the benefits of a NAPAHE membership?

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NAPAHE Mission Statement

NAPAHE strengthens the professions of its members through programming, networking, and professional development opportunities that address the broad range of roles fulfilled by professionals who support higher education’s senior leaders. 

NAPAHE Vision Statement

To be the association of choice for professionals who support leaders in higher education.

Letter from the Executive Director

Thank you for visiting the official website of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education (NAPAHE).

We often hear it said that leading at the top can be a lonely place. There is no job description, play book, or training manual that exhaustively covers the essential functions and responsibilities of somebody who supports higher education’s leaders. Who do you go to when you need support from a trusted colleague? That’s where NAPAHE comes into play.

At NAPAHE, we strive to be the association of choice for professionals who support leaders in higher education. Whether you work in the office of the president, provost, dean, vice president, or another leader within your institution or system of higher education, we welcome you to take full advantage of all that NAPAHE has to offer.

Each year, NAPAHE holds an annual conference that is organized for professionals from the United States and other countries. Recognizing that the roles and responsibilities of those in service to presidential leadership and higher education may be broad and varied, our goal is to ensure that the conference programming provides professional development opportunities for everyone. If you have not already done so, please be sure to mark this year’s conference dates on your calendar and visit our Upcoming Conference webpage for more information.

Other valuable benefits of NAPAHE membership include access to the Association’s e-Round Table, which serves as a resource to our members for obtaining answers to challenging questions and dilemmas they may be encountering on their campuses and their day-to-day work. In addition to the e-Round Table and the annual conference, NAPAHE members also cite networking, free webinars on pertinent topics, and the discount on the annual conference registration fee as other great benefits of membership.

To our growing membership: thank you for choosing NAPAHE for your professional development and networking needs. As you continue to develop in your role, we invite you to consider getting more involved in the association by volunteering on a committee, becoming a Peer Mentor, or helping at the upcoming conference. If you are considering membership, we encourage you to reach out to us with any questions you may have about the association.

Thank you for all that you do for higher education and for the contributions you make to ensure student success.

Stuart Schmidt
NAPAHE Executive Director

History of NAPAHE

The idea for gathering a few presidential assistants started with one PA, Pamela Transue, from the University of Washington, who began her outreach in 1987 to 24 other presidential assistants all around the country to find out if they had anything in common. Two years later, after several phone calls and conversations, the momentum began to build. Everyone she talked to was delighted to discover others who had many of the same satisfactions and difficulties with their positions as assistants to presidents or chancellors.

In the course of those conversations, considerable enthusiasm was expressed for the notion that they gather, perhaps in connection with a meeting of a national higher education association. A steering committee of five was formed—known as the “Gang of Five” who laid the foundation for the Association’s first annual meeting.

The Presidential Assistants in Higher Education (PAHE) first met in 1988 to discuss and address mutual concerns, common problems, and issues of immediate and long-term professional interest. The experience of the first two meetings of PAHE, under the auspices of the American Council on Education, clearly demonstrated the need for continuing the organization. The goals of NAPAHE today are similar to what they were in 1988.

In 1989, at the request of the Steering Committee for Presidential Assistants in Higher Education, the University of Pittsburgh, undertook a major national study of incumbent assistants to the president and/or chancellor. A survey was sent to 650 institutions, which yielded 414 usable responses.

Significant milestones followed with the adoption of Bylaws and Constitution in 1993, and later the application for tax-exempt status formalizing the status of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education. NAPAHE then formalized its association with the American Council on Education. The membership had a voice in electing the Board and its officers. With the adoption of the constitution and bylaws, NAPAHE moved into a new era of existence. However, at the same time it attempted to maintain the informal collegiality that it had characterized in earlier years. NAPAHE was a relative newcomer within the higher education community.

The number of PAs attending the annual meeting grew steadily over the years. For example, in 1993 the number in attendance was approximately 70— today it is over 300.

For a comprehensive understanding of the many dimensions of presidential assistants, and practical advice about several key features of the role, a book titled, Other Duties as Assigned, published in 2009 and edited by Mark P. Curchack, who retired from Arcadia University, is available through a number of online sources.