Jonathan J. O'Brien

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

Ortiz, A. M., O’Brien, J. J., & Carnaghi, J. E. (2021). Leading with and through others: Developing competencies in the work setting. In D. M. DeSawal, F. E. Ross III, & Associates (Eds.), Supervised practice: Connecting professional competency areas to professional development in student affairs (pp. 109-138). Washington D. C.: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

O’Brien, J. J. (2020). Theoretical frameworks for ethical practice. In A. M. Hornak (Ed.), Ethical and legal issues in student affairs and higher education (pp. 8-30). Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas Publishing. 

O’Brien, J. J. (2018). Exploring intersections of the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies. Journal of College Student Development, 59(3), 274-290.

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 

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.

Dispositional competencies of advanced-level student affairs professionals. Paper presented at NASPA Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA (March, 2019).

An emerging typology of moral orientation for educational leaders. Paper presented at ASHE Annual meeting, Columbus, OH (November, 2016).

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).

  • Secretary-Treasurer, Moral Development and Education SIG, AERA (2021-2024)
  • Board Member, ACPA Commission for Professional Preparation (2019-2021)
  • Co-Chair, ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies Rubric Task Force (2015-2016)

  • Moral suffering in higher education and student affairs practice. Co-investigator of an exploratory study of the internal and external factors that contribute to professionals’ perceptions of moral suffering.