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Jonathan O'Brien

Assistant Professor

Jonathan O'Brien Ed.D.

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Dr. Jonathan O'Brien teaches courses in the master's and doctoral programs such as Law and Ethics, Leadership and Management, and Counseling the Adult Student. He also teaches courses in Research Epistemologies and Methodologies, Professional Seminars, and Qualitative Research Methods.
Dr. O'Brien has held leadership positions in student affairs administration at public and private universities in Missouri, Kentucky, and California. His professional experience includes advising students and supervising professional staff in student activities, leadership development, student media, career services, health and counseling center, student conduct, and academic advising. He provides expertise and leadership in external program evaluation teams. His consulting and conference presentations focus on moral development and dispositional competencies in student affairs practice.


Ed.D. Educational Leadership, UC Irvine & CSU Long Beach
MS College Student Personnel Administration, Central Missouri State University
BA English, California State University, Long Beach

Representative Publications

O’Brien, J. J. (2017). A typology of moral positionality for educational leaders. Journal of College and Character, 18(4), 264-278.
O’Brien, J. J. (2016). Toward an ethic of becoming. About Campus, 21(1), 4-11.
O’Brien, J. J. (2016, Winter). Ethical Perspectives on the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies. Developments 13(4), 39-43. Retrieved from www.myacpa.org/developments 
Ortiz, A. M., O’Brien, J. J., & Martinez, C. R. (2015). Developing a professional ethic. In M. A. Amey & L. Ressor, Beginning your journey. Washington D. C.: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
O’Brien, J. J. (in press). Exploring intersections of the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies. Journal of College Student Development.
O’Brien, J. J. (in progress). Theoretical frameworks for ethical practice. In A. M. Hornak (Ed.), Ethical and legal issues in student affairs and higher education. Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas Publishing. 

Recent Conference Presentations

Conflict, character, and context: Opportunities for dialogue in ethical practice. NASPA Annual Conference. New Orleans, LA (March, 2015).
Beyond the binary: Queer theory and moral development. Research in progress presentation at the National Symposium on LGBTQ Research in Higher Education. Lansing, MI (October, 2014). 
An interpretive approach to advising men in postsecondary contexts. Scholarly paper presented at ACPA Annual meeting. Indianapolis, IN (April, 2014).
Student Affairs preparation programs & ACPA/NASPA professional competencies:  Context and strategies for implementation. NASPA Annual Conference. Baltimore, MD (March, 2014).

Leadership in Professional Associations

Board Member, ACPA Commission for Professional Preparation
Co-Chair, ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies Rubric Task Force

Current Projects

  • "Queering" moral indentity.  An exploratory study of moral identity in student leaders who identify as non-heterosexual.
  • Teaching ethical dispositions in student affairs. A study on the efficacy of a pedagogical model for teaching professional dispositions for ethical leadership.