Review by: Ali Joy Luempert
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
For academic advising administrators, the current volume of the New Directions for Student Services source book, Angst and Hope: Current Issues in Student Affairs Leadership, can provide an excellent context for the challenges facing student affairs now. The editors, Whitt, Roper, Porterfield, and Carnaghi, received feedback from 53 senior student affairs administrators regarding their thoughts on two main open-ended question clusters: (a) “What troubles you; what keeps you up at night?” and (b) “What excites you; what keeps you going?” From these responses, the editors gathered rich data and thoughtful insight into the perceived current trends, challenges and successes of student affairs administrators. Academic advising administrators will also find value in these insights and will find much in common with the main themes.
Many of the dilemmas addressed by the respondents are those an administrator in any facet of higher education would bring forward, including academic advising. In order to address the main themes, the editors return to the core values of student affairs, utilizing the Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs as a basis to work through the issues brought forward. Utilizing NACADA’s core values (2005) can allow advising administrators to approach navigating these themes from an academic advising perspective.
As an example, a main theme under “what troubles you; what keeps you up at night?” found that student health and well-being is of great concern (Whitt, Roper, Porterfield & Carnaghi, 2016). According to Tinto’s Departure Theory (1975), having at least one solid connection to campus is vital to student success, and academic advisors are often that main connection. This relationship may put the academic advisor in the role of “counselor,” and allow the advisor to be the first person the student reaches out to for help regrading anything from mental health to sexual assault. As a basis for training, administrators can emphasize the NACADA core values of “advisors are responsible to the individuals they advise,” and “advisors are responsible for involving others” to educate advisors on how to best serve students (NACADA, 2005). A return to the NACADA core values can help academic advising administrators as they search for solutions to the complex challenges higher education is faced with.
Alternatively, the main themes of the second question “what excites you, what keeps you going?” gives the editors, and academic advising administrators, opportunities to celebrate and inspire continued efforts for student success. The editors noted the first main theme as “It’s all about the students.” After providing a few examples from the respondents, they summarized the theme by stating “Students are the raison d’etre (purpose) for the work the student affairs leaders are engaged in (Whitt, et. al., 2016, p. 41).” Occasionally advisors may need a gentle reminder that students are the reason for the work, however most of the time advisors are given joy and inspiration from their daily work with students.
In the preface, the editors’ layout their reasoning for approaching the sourcebook in the manner executed. As the editors walk through their research and findings, they provide excellent information on context, citing several resources. At the end of the sourcebook, information is provided on the editors’ research methods as well as a complete database of responses from participants. I appreciated that the editors provided the raw data and thus you are able to read all of the participants’ responses.
When considering the main themes that emerged from the editors’ first prompt, (1) affordability and access, (2) student health and well-being, (3) diversity and inclusion, (4) regulations and compliance, and (5) technology and media, it’s easy to see how these intersect with academic advising. Acknowledging the relevancy of these issues and utilizing the core values of NACADA to will help academic advising units navigate the complex issues they are being faced with. Additionally, the main themes for the editors’ second prompt, along with the raw responses in the appendix, can keep academic advisors engaged in their work by taking inspiration from others and reflecting on good that they do.
NACADA. (2005). NACADA statement of core values of academic advising. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:
Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: a theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45, 89-125.
Angst and Hope: Current Issues in Student Affairs Leadership. (2016). Review by Ali joy Luempert. Book by Elizabeth J. Whitt, Larry D. Roper, Kent T. Porterfield. Jill E. Carnaghi, Joseey-Bass. 112 pp., $29.00, Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-119-27842-9, http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1119278422.html