Book by George S. McClellan and Jeremy Stringer
Review by Erin Busscher
Kikrhof College of Nursing Office of Student Services
Grand Valley State University

George McClellan and Jeremy Stringer wrote The Handbook of Student Affairs as a reference guide for proficient practice in the realm of student affairs. While the book is most beneficial to new student affairs professionals, it is also useful for seasoned professionals to use as a reference in every day practice. Practical information ranging from the history of student affairs to fiscal pressures on higher education provides a framework that truly guides professionals through most aspects of the student affairs profession. 

The book begins with an appropriate historical foundation of the student affairs profession and captures the movement from focusing on fulfilling the role of the parent towards an emphasis on developing the whole student. Explanations of the importance of mission statements, understanding institutional governance, and campus environments educate the reader as to the structure of higher education. Discussions on accountability and internationalization confirm the forward movement of higher education. McClellan and Stringer write, “Student affairs professionals must make the same commitment that we ask our students to make, to become internationally and culturally knowledgeable and competent” (p. 140). Along with cultural competency comes the importance of theory and ethics in the profession. The authors bring home the point that as mentors and role models to students, ethical practices are imperative to the profession. 

The next section discusses the ever changing face of the college student population and emphasizes the importance of diversity as well as a relatively new phenomenon in student affairs work of student health and wellness. McClellan and Stringer write, “There must be recognition that health is a vital concept, integrating the six dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and environmental” (p. 267). Since the face of the student population is constantly changing, professional development and lifelong learning are vital to career success for student affairs professionals. McClellan and Stringer point out that, “The question becomes not whether one engages in professional development, but how well, and the answer dictates the quality of the practice” (p. 386). Along with professional development for practice comes development in both interpersonal skills and competencies for professional practice. The section on understanding and managing conflict is beneficial to student affairs professionals in all stages of their career because conflict management is a constant on college campuses. McClellan and Stringer write, “Because conflict in higher education is inevitable, student affairs professionals must understand themselves and their dispositions regarding conflict as well as how others typically choose to deal with it” (p. 463). Entry level professionals and mid-level administrators often lack conflict management and this manual provides clear and simple examples for student affairs professionals to begin to build their own style. 

While the Handbook of Student Affairs read more like a textbook than a manual, it is beneficial for all student affairs professionals to have on their shelf. Whether one is a faculty member, academic advisor, financial aid officer or director of a student services center, the Handbook of Student Affairs is a useful tool that can help professionals at any level navigate their way through a career in student affairs.

The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration. (2009). Book by George S. McClellan, Jeremy Stringer. Review by Erin Busscher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 712 pp, 75.00. ISBN # 978-0-7879-9733-5
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