Book By: Schuh, John S.
Review By: Frances Northcutt
Department of Academic Advising
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

Why should an academic advisor read Contemporary Financial Issues in Student Affairs?  Readers seeking financial guidance specific to running an academic advising program will be disappointed, since our field is mentioned only once or twice in passing. Students of higher education administration, however, as well as advisors planning to move into another area of student affairs, will benefit from the chapters on divisions such as health and counseling services and campus recreation.  Even academic advisors with no plans to change tracks may enjoy learning about what their colleagues in other departments do.  Finally, the two chapters by editor John H. Schuh provide background and strategies relevant to financial management of any student affairs unit.

As the editor states, this book “provide(s) recommendations, strategies, and solutions for the budgetary challenges that student affairs staff face” (p.1).  Topics include the origins of student affairs funding (general institutional funds, student fees, etc.), ways institutions create their budgets, the pros and cons of outsourcing, and the use of technology.  Interestingly, multiple authors warn against unthinking adoption of new technologies, pointing out that often new technologies do not provide benefits sufficient to justify their high costs.

Authors stress that increasing competition for resources means that student affairs units must demonstrate that they are doing a good job and that they serve a vital function if they are to continue receiving support. Individual chapters endorse this self-promotion, e.g., “providing customized health-related services for students advances the mission of the institution and promotes student success” (p. 39), and “campus recreation [is positioned] at the forefront of the university experience” (p. 85). This public relations lesson certainly applies to academic advising.

In the collection’s strongest chapter, Howard Taylor, William F. Canning, Paul Brailsford, and Frank Rokosz discuss “Financial Issues in Campus Recreation.” This chapter is straightforward and prescriptive. The authors succinctly describe the growth of recreational services from 1928 to the present and then review the various services and operating models found in today’s facilities.  Most helpfully, they warn of common pitfalls and make recommendations regarding marketing, personnel training, assessment, and accounting practices. They even detail the components of a successful locker and towel program. Campus recreation managers might make this chapter required reading for their staff and student employees. Similarly, managers in health and counseling, student unions, student activities, and residence life might ask their employees to read the relevant chapters in this book in order to increase their knowledge of issues that may be significant to their department.

More than anything else, the program specific chapters opened my eyes to how the operations of many different departments contribute to the achievement of institutional mission. I gained new appreciation for the work of my colleagues. The two chapters by Schuh, although imperfectly edited, provide a useful conceptual framework. He stresses the importance of proactively adapting to changing circumstances, and justifying the existence of our programs through empirical evidence. Though Contemporary Financial Issues in Student Affairs is not an in-depth handbook for managers, it can widen the horizon for advising professionals who are seeking to learn.

Contemporary Financial Issues in Student Affairs: New Directions for Student Services # 103. (2003). Book by Schuh, John S. (Ed.). Review by Frances Northcutt. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 98 pp.  Price: $ 27.00. ISBN # 0-7879-7173-1.

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