Book by Gary L. Kramer and Associates
Review by Susan L. Neste
Executive Director, Center for Academic Excellence
Angelo State University
San Angelo, TX
As grave yards and mountains succumb to bulldozers and dynamite to make way for freeways, so too colleges and universities must respond to the dynamic changes in higher education--changes in student demographics and characteristics. These changes influence the campus environment and educators must recognize and respond to these imminent changes in order to foster a culture of student-centeredness and success.
Fostering Student Success in the Campus Community examines differences among higher education institutions and offers considerations for action to both foster and improve a culture of student success (xxxii). Thirty-eight authors, including Kramer, contribute to this extremely readable and valuable volume of twenty chapters. The volume is arranged into four parts, five chapters in each.
The five chapters in Part I address the importance of recognizing the changes in student characteristics, looking at both the student of today and the future. The development of the chapters in this section leans on the important notion of aligning student and institutional expectation in order to realize and measure student learning outcomes (p. 1).
Part II delves further into the creation and maintenance of a student-centered culture. These five chapters discuss enrollment management issues and how virtual and one-stop student services have revolutionized the way colleges and universities attract and retain diverse and changing student populations (p.99).
Part III, while emphasizing the importance of student development, examines learning partnerships, developing students in their search for meaning, organizing services for learning, as well as the utilization of faculty engagement as ways to put students first (p. 215).
Finally, the chapters in Part IV address common themes that impact student success and where universities must aim resources in order to realize and experience the campus community that values student-centeredness. Additionally, the chapters discuss intervention techniques for retaining students, and a marvelous summary chapter by Kramer explains the various threads that weave throughout the book addressing best practices that are associated with a culture of student success. (p. 341)
Advisors strapped for time will find that must-read chapters include those authored by George Kuh, Wesley Habley, Faye Vowell, and Gary Kramer. Kuh’s chapter draws on DEEP and NSSE research including an overview of student centered philosophy, identifying features of a student-centered culture and finally, Kuh explains ways to create and sustain a student centered, “learning-friendly environment” (p. 18).
Habley’s chapter focuses on an overview of academic advising, the role of academic advisors, and how to enhance advising services (p. 188). Academic advisors will especially appreciate the Academic Plan Template--an excellent advising tool to use with all advisees (p. 189).
A must-read for academic advisors and administrators alike is Vowell’s rich chapter. This is especially important for campuses struggling to include faculty-student engagement into the academic advising process. In her conclusion Vowell lists concrete steps an institution can take to achieve that goal. Furthermore, Vowell concludes that although successful faculty-student engagement is a challenging undertaking for any institution the “resulting impact on student learning, growth, and persistence is worth the effort” (p. 335).
While Kramer masterfully presents the reader with a keen, concise layout of the book, the reader will feel comfortable choosing only advising topics while leaving the remainder of the book for those times when professional reading time beckons. I recommend this book to all educators interested in creating a culture of student success.
Fostering Student Success in the Campus Community. (2007) Book by Gary L. Kramer and Associates. Review by Susan L. Neste, Ph.D. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 512pp. $45. ISBN # 978-1-933371-24-5