Book by: Thomas E. Miller and Roger W. Sorochty

Review by: Jacqueline E. Fischer
Islander Transition Center
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Why should an academic advisor need to understand risk management in student affairs? Many advisors come into academic advising from another area of higher education, or an unrelated profession. Understanding the bigger picture of planning strategies and organized structure of risk management in student affairs is beneficial to an academic advisor’s success in the complex challenges of advising today.

Academic Advising and Student Affairs are two of many pertinent divisions in higher education.  Advising and student affairs may not often cross over professionally, but understanding each will help to understand the bigger picture of higher education. Miller and Sorochty cite resources and laws that aid in understanding the intricacy of risk management in student affairs.

Though the book is directly intended for professionals in student affairs, it is a concrete resource for anyone who desires a more in-depth understanding of the basic principles of risk management in student affairs. Many of the chapters in the book give specific situational examples of risk management in student affairs. An example which is directly relatable to academic advising is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA. Miller and Sorochty explain that it is under no violation of FERPA to share some educational information with parents of students who are under twenty-six years of age and dependents of their parents for tax (financial aid) purposes (pp. 53-54). All situations are relatable to any higher education professional, but to understand them from the perspective of student affairs veterans such as Miller and Sorochty is beneficial to non-student affairs higher education professionals.

Topics which are most relatable for academic advisors include (but not limited to): Federal and State regulations, discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), torte, and federal aid/funding.  For academic advisors, the most useful chapter in the book is Chapter 12: Counseling and Helping Services. The chapter covers academic, financial, social, substance abuse, and other crises that students will face in their collegiate years. Many times students will open up to academic advisors with more personal and troubling concerns, and therefore, advisors must be aware of their limitations with respect to psychologically advising the student. Miller and Sorochty present forewarning of personal counseling.

In summary, Risk Management in Student Affairs: Foundations for Safety and Success is a strong introduction to everything someone would need to know in higher education, especially student affairs. Being new to advising and having worked primarily in admissions and recruitment, I found much of the information in the book to be helpful in my transition to a more fulfilling role that allows me to work with students one-on-one in a longer capacity. I have engaged much of the information in this book in my advising methods as a way to gain trust and establish relationships with my students. 

Risk Management in Student Affairs: Foundations for Safety and Success. (2014). Book by Thomas E Miller and Roger W. Sorochty. Review by Jacqueline E. Fischer. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 272 pp., $55.00 (Hardback). ISBN 978-1-118-10091-2

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