Book by George S. McClellan & Jeremy Stringer
Review by Cristine Mason
Academic Advisor, Goodwin College
Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)

The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration is a reference book designed for professionals working in the Student Services field. Ideally, it is useful for students hoping to enter the field and those new to the profession, but the depth of the chapters and wide variety of topics would make this book more beneficial for the seasoned professional, especially ones whose role is changing due to a promotion or laterally due to new institutional needs.

The book covers those topics in which one would expect such a book to cover: mission statements, the historical foundations of student affairs, professional development, and the responsibilities of managing others. There is one chapter devoted to ethics, which went over common standards of the profession and then gave a brief overview of each of the several major professional organizations which provide guidelines. The reference list of this chapter would be very useful to refer to (as are the lists at the end of most chapters). The book then goes deeper, covering topics more useful to someone moving up in their organization: fiscal planning, assessment guidelines, facilities planning, and crisis management. This variety makes the book something to keep on the shelf, no matter your current role on campus.

This book is very much a product of the overall environment of higher education today with regard to its foreshadowing of the changing economic and social environments now impacting institutions. The book accurately identifies the regulatory firestorm now dominating the for-profit institutions as well as the current factors impacting the fiscal atmosphere. Another chapter focuses on the growing tide of “internationalization”, a trend which continues to increase. This is an important issue which deserved its own chapter, if only to highlight it for those new to the field. As Osfield & Terrell note “Unfortunately, student affairs professional preparation does not appear to be keeping pace with the global movement toward internationalization.” (p. 137) Some chapters do overlap in content, although the issues discussed are hot topics, which can be expected to be brought up frequently by campus administrations. Later, when discussing the coming changes in student demographics on campuses, McClellan & Larimore bring up internationalization again: “Given our traditional role in helping our institutions change and adapt, changing demographics and the increasing internationalization of higher education will make it increasingly important for us to be well informed about these and other changes in the student body” (p.226). In pointing out how access to higher education has changed the demographic of a traditional student (and created a whole population of non-traditional students), the authors hone in on yet another trend: changes in the student population that student affairs serve. This is followed up with a bid by authors Laker & Davis to challenge one’s “mental frameworks” and re-evaluate the campus community through a multicultural framework (p. 253) and completed by authors Crawley & LeGore asking professionals if they understand the needs of their online students. Both chapters touch on populations administrators should expect to spend time getting to know as they plan long term.

For an advisor in the field, the focus of the section on “Students: The Reason for our Professional Practice” holds much value.  As noted above, the student population has evolved to include more diverse groups, and as Crawley & LeGore note “The typical higher education student is no longer eighteen to twenty two years old, but older than twenty five” (p. 304). To maintain the vital counseling and guiding role advisors hold on campus, they must be prepared to help these new populations, and the chapters in this section provide some best practices for those in direct contact with students.

While the different chapters in the book vary in their readability and relate-ability due to the different authors and writing styles, the Handbook of Student Affairs Administration is a comprehensive reference book, with the focus of allowing a reader to develop an understanding of all aspects of the student affairs profession while highlighting current trends in America’s higher education system.  Thus, it truly is a “handbook” to be referred to frequently, rather than read through as a book.

The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration, 3rd Edition.(2009). Book by George S. McClellan & Jeremy Stringer (Eds.). Review by Cristine Mason. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 675pp., $80.00, (hardback), ISBN # 978-0-7879-9733-5

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