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Everyone says that student affairs is a small profession.

“Don’t say something bad about a colleague in an elevator at convention!” “Be careful about burning bridges when you leave an institution!” “Network, network, network!” These comments caused me to question, how small is our profession really? To answer this question, I want to try something I call “The Six Degrees of Esther Lloyd-Jones Project.”  In this project, I hope to try to document the connections current professionals have back to one of student affairs founding professionals, Ester Lloyd Jones.  This is where I need your help!

Who is Ester Lloyd Jones? LLOYD-JONES 35-37Esther Lloyd Jones was the seventh president of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and one of the authors of the 1937 Student Personnel Point of View.  She was a faculty member at Columbia University and played a significant role in the founding of professional student affairs work.  You can find out more about her in this biography.  This is also her obituary from the New York Times.  Embedded below is a Prezi about Esther Lloyd Jones by Hannah Certis found on the web.  Hannah wrote her Master’s thesis on the early life of Esther Lloyd-Jones (contact her here if you want to know more about her work.)

Where did the idea come from? My advisor at Boston College, Karen Arnold, and I were talking about the Student Personnel Point of View and how many of the authors were (or came to be) Presidents of ACPA.  (The answer is 3).  During this conversation, she mentioned that she had a connection back to Esther Lloyd Jones.  This experience sparked my thinking about my own student affairs lineage.  I began to wonder how far removed we all were from some of our founding professionals.  Using the power of the web, this is a project we all could participate in.

How can you participate and engage? I’ve created a GoogleDoc spreadsheet to document professionals’ connections back to Esther Lloyd Jones.  If you don’t have a connection back to Esther Lloyd Jones, check back periodically.  It is possible that others will have added information that will help you trace your student affairs lineage back to her. You can also engage the project by following my twitter account (@paulgordonbrown) and tweeting with the hashtag #6degreesELJ.  You can also follow my blog for lengthier updates and periodic changes to the project as it progresses.

What are you going to do with this project? My main hope is to provide a public repository for this information as a fun and interesting way for student affairs professionals to learn about how they connection.  I am also thinking about planning a presentation for a national conference or even a potential publication to share how this process unfolded and what was learned.


  • Do not modify other’s entries.  Place your information on another line.  If you have a comment, include it in the last column.  I will periodically clean the list and will fix any issues or discrepancies.
  • As this list becomes longer, try doing a search for an institutional name or a well-known individual’s name to see if you can find the shortest connection.  Also, try searching for your own name, as it may be someone has already listed you as a connector.
  • When describing the “relationship” try to be specific.  Include the context (and institution name, if applicable) and nature of the relationship.  (ex. “was a faculty member at Boston College and taught students including,” “worked in residence life at Boston College and worked in the same department as,” “served on the directorate of the ACPA Standing Committee for Women with,” etc.)
  • Make sure the relationship is “significant.”  Just meeting someone briefly, or working at the same institution but not having meaningful working interactions with them does not count.
  • Try to make your connections as short as possible.  If there is a shorter route back to Esther Lloyd Jones, include that.  I will periodically simplify the list and remove duplicates.
  • If you’re adding an entry off of the same “stem” (i.e. it shares the first few connections, but you’re branching off in a different direction), right click on the row numbers at the left of the spreadsheet and click either “insert 1 above” or “insert 1 below” so you can add your row entry immediately below the stem to which you’re adding.  If you’re starting a new branch directly off of Esther Lloyd Jones, then create a new row at the bottom.
  • Of course I cannot control what information people add or what names they include, but if you want your name removed, please let me know and I will do my best to take it down in a timely manner.


Questions?  Feedback?  Contact me.  I’m interested to see where this goes.