posted on April 18, 2018 09:35
BkRev #1809. Ever the Leader: Selected Writings by William G. Bowen. (2017). Bowen, William G. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 360 pages. Price $25.61. ISBN 978-0-691-17787-8
Irvin D. Reid Honors College
Wayne State University
William G. Bowen has had many positions within the field of higher education. He was a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. Then, he was the President of Princeton University for 16 years. Lastly, he served as the President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as the founding chairman of ITHAKA. Needless to say, he was a man of high principles when it came to education as well as all of its components. Sadly, he passed away in late 2016. His book, Ever the Leader: Selected Writings by William G. Bowen., is an homage to this great leader. It is a selection of some of his speeches as well as writings that tackle some of academic’s greatest topics.
Academic Advisors tend to be the ‘jack of all trades’ when it comes to higher education. We talk to our students about a plethora of topics from financial aid to career paths. Using this book to help strengthen our conversations not only with our students but with campus partners as well is a suggested strategy. This book is a very well organized look into some of the areas and topics that face Academic Advisors every day. It is broken up into sections based on unifying themes which is very helpful to the reader. Bowen gives his opinion on the connection between athletics and involvement in education. He talks about the impact that online learning and the technology ages and its ability to connect people. There are conversations about the fact that public universities have a large role to play in the education ‘gap’ and creating more value in the educational process rather than just the end goal of obtaining a degree. But the underlying theme, despite the context of his words, always seem to deal with value and trust. Student place their trust in places of higher education and it is the responsibility of all such institutions to protect that trust and to foster positive and lasting relationships. This is a motto of most Academic Advisors as well. It could be used as a complete book or even broken into sections for specific campus partners.
The strength of this book lies in its construction. Having each speech or writing be its own chapter within a larger themed portion of the book makes it a seamless read. It also makes it easy to create topics of conversations at staff meetings or other collaborative venues. It does come from an administrator dominated perspective, but that can be navigated easily enough with a little effort. I would recommend this book to those Academic Advisors who deal with a broad population of students as well as those looking to get into more supervisory role within the field.
Bowen quoted Adlai Stevenson in his book as a premise of the journey facing every student today, “Your days are short here; this is the last of your springs. And now in the serenity and quiet of this lovely place, touch the depths of truth, feel the hem. You will go away with old, good friends. Don’t forget when you leave why you came”.