Book Reviews

Book by Shannon E. Ellis (Ed.)
Review by Tara Jabbaar-Gyambrah
Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Hilbert College

Sustainability and holistic student development in student affairs divisions are crucial components of designing a strategic plan for colleges and universities. Strategic Planning in Student Affairs, edited by Shannon E. Ellis, is an eight chapter addition to the New Directions for Student Services series. Authors in this short text examine the purpose and process of a creating a strategic plan from different perspectives. Each author provided a comprehensive overview of the realities of creating a strategic plan, how to prepare professionals for change based upon a strategic plan, steps for acquiring data to set the foundation for a plan, and the role of financial management in strategic planning. Even though the book does not provide a detailed action plan for creating a strategic plan by institutional type, it does give readers ample information to start the process.

Strategic Planning in Student Affairs is an excellent resource for academic advisors and for faculty preparing graduate students to move into student affairs positions. While there were several areas in the text that stood out, four parts are crucial for advisors, faculty, and graduate students. First, Ellis and Atkins provide essential tools for starting to develop a strategic plan. While Ellis discussed nine elements of strategic planning process – from clarifying the student affairs mission to establishing goals and milestones -- Atkins offered suggestions for preparing individuals for change. Atkins suggested that the establishment of a reading group for student affairs professionals can assist in creating a positive campus climate and building creativity and collaboration among the team during the strategic planning process.  Second, Bresciani outlined nine data phases needed to produce strong and effective strategic plans.  Third, Conneely examined the financial management necessary for deciding an appropriate allocation of funds for adequate student services. Finally, Cherrey and Clark provided a case study that examined Tulane University’s restructuring of student affairs after Hurricane Katrina. 

Strategic Planning in Student Affairs can easily be used an introductory guide for graduate students pursuing areas within the student affairs profession. The book’s strength was that it provides a solid foundation for preparing a strategic plan; however, its weakness was that authors do not suggest how to create plans specifically for private versus public institutions. Still, an additional strength of this text was that a variety of individuals share their perspectives on strategic planning. In all, this book could be used as supplementary reading for students learning about strategic planning.


Strategic Planning in Student Affairs (New directions for student services #132). (2011). Book by Shannon E. Ellis (Ed.). Review by Tara Jabbaar-Gyambrah. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 105 pp., $29.00 (paperback).  ISBN # 978-1-1180-1047-1

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