Book Reviews

Book by William M. McDonald and associates
Review by Nancy DeLaet
Academic Advisor, College of Computing, Integrated Engineering & Technology
Southern Utah University


“In sum, I feel that I am in community when I feel seen, known, and respected – when I am taken seriously and appreciated, not just for the function I perform but for who I am as a person” (p. 183).  For many, the feeling of community, as described here by Parker J. Palmer, is elusive.  In Creating Campus Community: In Search of Ernest Boyer’s Legacy, authors from five diverse institutions share their successes, failures and on-going challenges in establishing what Palmer refers to as “a capacity for connectedness” (p. 186).  

Anyone unfamiliar with Ernest Boyer’s contributions to the idea of community in higher education (1987) will benefit from this book’s ability to accurately disseminate the six primary principles characteristic of a thriving college campus.  Additionally, readers will also learn from the demonstrative efforts of students, faculty, staff and administrators on their journeys toward this goal.
 
Although some chapters are more abstract in terms of aspirations, theories and the usual clichés, practical examples can indeed be found. Thus, the text ultimately lends itself to becoming a modest reference volume.

Particularly engaging is William McDonald’s analysis of what community means from a student’s perspective.  How authentic are students’ desires to be connected?  Are they simply expecting to remain dependent on those in authority to take care of them?  McDonald offers a comprehensive description of the College and University Community Inventory (CUCI), detailing its inception, content, implementation and conclusions.  He rightly points out that the notion of “community” differs according to each person and as such, three influencing factors are studied in terms of practices and relationships: regional location, institutional size, and Carnegie Classification.  This reviewer appreciated McDonald’s subsequent comments that addressed how the survey should be implemented for better results in the future.

With the increasing pressure to recruit and retain students, not to mention a more sustained motivation to feel vested in the campus community, all campus constituencies are called upon to find innovative ways to develop quality in higher education. This book provides tangible and worthwhile examples of how institutions address this daunting mandate.  Readers whose strengths lie in taking an idea and exploiting its applications will devour these pages.

Reference:

Boyer, E. L. (1987).  Campus Life: In Search of Community.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Creating Campus Community: In Search of Ernest Boyer’s Legacy (2002) Book by William M. McDonald and associates. Review by Nancy DeLaet. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 200 pp., $30.00, (paperback), ISBN # 0-7879-5700-3.
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