Winter 2001 Book Reviews
Bulletin readers on recent higher education titles.

From the December 2001 AAHE Bulletin

To purchase any of these books, please visit your local or online bookstore.



The Changing Nature of the Academic Deanship
By Mimi Wolverton, Walter H. Gmelch, Joni Montez, and Charles T. Nies (2001). ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report Volume 28, Number 1; Adrianna J. Kezar, Series Editor; Jossey-Bass, San Francisco; 118 pages, $24.00

Reviewed by Bennett G. Boggs, senior associate for academic affairs, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education;

From Vernon Wormer of Animal House’s Faber College to Andrew West of Princeton, deans have been a source of interest and concern for students, faculty, and presidents alike. The authors examine this position in academe’s priesthood, revealing its potential and removing its mystery. In short, they offer a comprehensive (yet brief) orientation to the contemporary academic deanship.

Divided into four chapters, this readable effort (108 pages before appendices) asks:

  • Who are deans and what do they do?
  • What challenges do deans face?
  • What strategies can deans use to meet these challenges?
  • What can universities do to help deans become more effective?

In answering these questions, the authors cite studies ranging from societal leadership to university finance. Seven topical appendices list sources for further review. The authors did their homework well.

Not surprisingly, the book’s greatest strength is its greatest weakness. By reviewing pertinent issues broadly (finances, curriculum, technology, diversity and access, competing institutional priorities, and personal/professional balance) with summaries of current deanship demographics (white and male except for nursing) and universities’ need to improve the position, much is covered quickly. Certain pages read like academic abstracts strewn with references. Strategic overviews are ample, yet logistics are slim. The value of effective associate/assistant deans and business managers is not mentioned until page 103, almost a summary comment. The relevance of provosts barely receives print.

However, the study’s progressive perspective is commendable. The authors contend that institutions should change to meet diverse students’ (and societal) needs, not vice versa. Furthermore, in the age of presidents as CFOs (chief fundraising officers), deans have a remarkable opportunity to lead in interesting and challenging times. This book is an excellent introduction to deanship issues for new and aspiring deans. Central administrators and beginning higher education scholars would benefit as well.

Chaos Theory & Higher Education: Leadership, Planning & Policy
Marc Cutright, Editor (2001). Peter Lang Publishing, New York; 250 pages; $29.95

Reviewed by Mark J. Drozdowski, director of corporate, foundation, and government relations, Franklin Pierce College;

Many who work in higher education will confess to encountering chaos on a daily basis. The chaos Cutright and his colleagues consider in this book, however, refers not to pandemonium but to the mathematical concept metaphorically applied to university governance.

Chaos theory rejects the notion that managers can accurately predict the future as a linear extrapolation of the past. Instead, it suggests that small changes within systems can produce “great and unpredictable results,” just as a butterfly’s flutter in Asia may eventually alter a tornado’s path in Texas. These seemingly random activities, however, often demonstrate complex, replicated patterns organized around “strange attractors” — institutional characteristics that establish boundaries and supply general directions for the future. Mission might be one; so may a president. “Identifying the strange attractors,” one author claims, “can aid in understanding what will and will not change.”

Several authors — the cast includes senior-level administrators and faculty members from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain — contrast chaos theory with strategic planning. The latter focuses on linear models of cause and effect, predictability and order, long-range horizons, top-down management, and quantitative data. Chaos theory thrives on unpredictability, instability, disequilibria, conflict, short time frames, bottom-up management, qualitative analyses, continual feedback, and constant change. The goal of strategic planning is a plan; the goal of chaos theory is planning.

While providing administrators a useful framework for analyzing their environment and mapping its future, the book offers few concrete examples of chaos in practice. One chapter details a community college’s experience as a case study, but most authors remain abstract, content to explore theoretical boundaries instead of considering real-world applications.

That caveat aside, Chaos Theory presents a fascinating alternative to traditional methods of management and planning. Using these prescriptions, some institutions might find chaos a worthwhile goal.

Systemic Leadership: Enriching the Meaning of Our Work
By Kathleen E. Allen and Cynthia Cherrey (2000). University Press of America, Lanham, Maryland; 132 pages; $54.50 ($24.50 paperback)

Reviewed by Marc Cutright, research associate, Policy Center on the First Year of College, Brevard College;

“Would the CEO of the Internet please stand up?”

The book begins with this provocative yet obviously rhetorical question. The points raised, among others, are that colleges and universities will not be “managed,” that leadership will come from relationships and persuasion, and that change will come in largely unplanned and unforeseeable forms. Adapting to — and thriving in — this change is the lesson the authors bring us.

Allen and Cherrey draw heavily from systems, chaos, and complexity theories for their ideas, although they astutely avoid jargon and excessive depth in discussing these frameworks. They describe four new ways of working — relating, influencing change, learning, and leading — and draw these together into “systemic leadership.”

At the base of their argument is the rejection of the old model of organizations as machines — physical entities with hierarchical control, limited spans of function, “simple” complexity, and predictable futures. For each of their four new ways of working, they contrast the old with the new thinking.

The dynamics of change in hierarchies, for example, are marked by top-down initiation, the assumption that intelligence resides at the upper levels of the hierarchy, and the belief that change results from forceful, sustained progress toward a specific goal. Network change, by contrast, is marked by the knowledge that change is initiated from anywhere, that intelligence is distributed throughout the organization, and that change happens irregularly, beginning with nudges, and building momentum.

Although written for student affairs professionals, this book should also appeal to anyone who works in higher education and questions the status quo. Indeed, its ideas supercede higher education altogether and will make fruitful reading for anyone interested in dynamic change and creative leadership in a world of accelerating change.

The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
By Nicholas Lemann (1999). Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York; 406 pages; $27.00

Reviewed by John Orr Dwyer, associate executive director, Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools;

The Big Test is institutional history with a personal touch. The institution is the Educational Testing Service and its “Big” Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the history is of the last half of the 20th century, and the persons are the prominent and the promising.

The book’s subtitle implies no conspiracy, indeed, no mystery. It simply acknowledges the lack of public awareness of an American transition from the dominance of white males in a tradition of what Lemann calls “the Episcopacy” to the “promise of opportunity for all” — the new “meritocracy.” A British scholar invented the word in the 1940s for his system of “rule by the cleverest people.” He would have preferred to use “aristocracy” (in Greek, “rule by the best”) but Western mistranslation of it as “rule by inheritors of wealth” required a change.

Lemann writes of this American transition by focusing on higher education, “a big system with a small inner core reserved for a high-IQ version of Plato’s guardians or Jefferson’s natural aristocracy.” This was changed by the sorting of secondary school students according to their “scholastic aptitude,” thus giving them access to the most selective colleges, and, eventually, opportunity to succeed and perhaps to lead. A mini-history of ETS runs through the book, neatly touching on appropriate branches of government, industry, and education.

Lemann tells the tale in sprightly detail, moving from “the old system, based on family connections . . . to the new one of credentials and test scores.” The irony is the unanticipated tension (or “fundamental clash”) between the emerging meritocratic system and the cause of the advancement of minorities and women. This part of the story stretches from the birth of affirmative action in the 1960s to the triumph of California’s affirmative-action-banning Proposition 209 in the 1990s.

The author has enjoyed access to vast sources, including the archives of ETS itself, the papers of its founding president, Henry Chauncey, and dozens of interviews with the personalities involved. Unfortunately, several contentions are unsupported by citations.

A Guide to Faculty Development: Practical Advice, Examples, and Resources
Kay Herr Gillespie, Senior Editor, Linda R. Hilsen and Emily C. Wadsworth, Editors (2002). Anker Publishing, Bolton, Massachusetts; 304 pages; $39.95

Reviewed by Lee Bash, dean, Division of Lifelong Learning, Baldwin-Wallace College;

It is difficult to think of this book as anything other than the definitive book on faculty development, since it is offered under the auspices of the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (the POD Network). Since this is a professional association devoted to promoting faculty, instructional, and organizational development, and the authors of the 24 pieces are members, it’s probably fair to describe this book as a primary sourcebook on the topic.

A Guide to Faculty Development’s six sections frame the topics hierarchically. From the first, foundational section, “Setting Up A Faculty Development Program,” through “Assessing Teaching Practices,” “Practical Strategies,” “Reaching Specific Audiences,” “Addressing Diversity,” and “A Guide To Faculty Development Committees: Goals, Structures, And Practices,” each builds upon what is presented in the first section.

While most of the sections are straightforward and predictable, even for those of us who are not as familiar with the field, “Reaching Specific Audiences” and “Addressing Diversity” are more narrow in scope and therefore will not apply to all readers. But for the most part, this book is comprehensive with extensive practical and accessible solutions. If you are seeking to enhance faculty development on your campus, your efforts will probably be incomplete without including this book.

Voices of Experience: Reflections From a Harvard Teaching Seminar
Mary-Ann Winkelmes and James Wilkinson, Editors (2001). Peter Lang Publishing, New York; 152 pages; $24.95

Reviewed by Jon Enriquez, associate dean and registrar, Hanover College;

The strength of this book is captured in its title. The dozen contributors are new teachers who are discovering how the research on teaching and learning can be applied in real classroom settings. Each essay uses one or more of the author’s personal classroom experiences as the basis for a discussion of a larger principle of teaching. This combination of theoretical knowledge and empirical experience should appeal to new (and renewing) faculty members.

The essays draw on teaching experiences in different fields, ranging from chemistry and mathematics to history and music. The diversity of disciplines shows both the wide application of teaching and learning strategies and also the common nature of problems confronting teachers throughout higher education.

Another strength of the volume is the use of the Harvard name. Harvard is often used as a synecdoche for the most elite institutions in the nation. One of the attitudes that advocates of the scholarship of teaching and learning encounter is that “they don’t worry about this stuff at Harvard.” In fact, they do worry about it, and it seems that these scholars are at least as qualified for and adept at conducting the scholarship of teaching and learning as they are the scholarship of discovery.

The book is not theoretically sophisticated or up-to-date (there are very few relevant sources dated after 1997). The thematically organized bibliography is not useful for the beginning reader, since it fails to distinguish between essential and ephemeral texts. A listing of eight to 12 “most essential works” would have been valuable.

The book is therefore best used as a practical introduction to the subject, and it achieves this goal very effectively. This volume is an excellent choice for graduate seminars on teaching and for the development of new faculty.

The Conscience of the Campus: Case Studies in Moral Reasoning Among Today’s College Students
By Joseph Dillon Davey and Linda DuBois Davey (2001). Praeger Publishing, Westport, Connecticut; 144 pages; $18.95

Reviewed by James H. Cook, associate vice president for student services, Tarleton State University;

The stated goals of The Conscience of the Campus are to offer insight into the moral, legal, and political values of today’s college students and to give professors a starting point for meaningful conversations about some of today’s hot-button issues. Unfortunately, the authors only succeed in the latter task.

The Daveys take the reader through a great variety of moral-legal issues. They thoroughly examine the evolution of law and social thought pertaining to topics ranging from the disposition of frozen embryos in the event of divorce to equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The reader is presented with a series of well thought-out issue vignettes that begin with a brief example (case) of the issue at play, followed by a discussion of its legal history and ramifications. The vignettes are presented in a concise, information-filled format and lend themselves well to class-length discussions.

Where the book is lacking, however, is in its discussion of what college students think about the issues raised in the book. When the conversation turns ever so briefly to the “moral, legal, and political values of today’s college students,” the reader is met time and again with generalizations about college students’ positions. Claims are made about how most college students feel, how a portion of them feels, or how their feelings have changed, with very little documentation or evidence to back up those claims.

The Conscience of the Campus succeeds admirably in thoroughly and concisely laying out a host of moral-legal issues that we on college campuses should discuss with our students. This aspect of the book alone makes it good reading and very useful. But a good book would have been a great book had more space, depth, and documentation been devoted to how college students view and think through the issues raised therein.

The Creation of the Future
By Frank H.T. Rhodes (2001). Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York & London; 320 pages; $29.95

Reviewed by Kathleen Rountree, dean, College of Performing and Visual Arts, University of Northern Colorado;

A journey through the chapters of The Creation of the Future is a celebratory expedition, as Rhodes eloquently introduces the reader to the best elements of “the most significant creation of the second millennium” — namely, the modern research university.

Rhodes elaborates on three important developments in the university in the last half-century, and then delves bravely into the individual and unavoidable changes that have accompanied each of these events. In detail he discusses the great benefits and challenges relating to an increased level of inclusiveness (thereby offering education, career advancement, and social mobility to many new participants); the rise of professionalism, which has resulted in the successful training of a majority of our nation’s leaders while dramatically affecting curriculum, faculty allegiances, and overall campus community; and the increasing influence of science, the most recent area of expanded funding and emphasis, which has been enormously successful and beneficial to the country while further altering the campus environment by changing the teaching/research roles, funding norms, and attitudes of faculty.

Rhodes cites the loss of community in the American university as “a catastrophe, for it undermines the very foundation on which the universities were established. . . .” He recommends specific changes to enable the university to thrive in the future, including new models of governance, funding and finance, partnerships and alliances, and, most of all, an ability to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing environment.

Rhodes brings the wisdom of his distinguished career as a scholar and educational administrator into this thought-provoking and inspiring book. He rises to the challenge of the bully pulpit, enriching the literature on higher education, and inspiring a positive future for the research university.

Intergroup Dialogue: Deliberative Democracy in School, College, Community, and Workplace
David Schoem and Sylvia Hurtado, Editors (2001). University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor; 376 pages; $59.50 ($19.95 paperback)

Reviewed by Kelly Risbey, faculty of education graduate student, University of Manitoba;

Acts of violence in the 1990s have compelled many communities, schools, and workplaces to implement intergroup dialogue programs, which this book describes as forms “of democratic practice, engagement, problem solving, and education involving face-to-face, focused, facilitated, and confidential discussions occurring over time between two or more groups of people defined by their social identities.”

Intergroup Dialogue addresses many theoretical and practical aspects of such complex dialogue formats. Readers are provided with theory and research into intergroup dialogues, exposed to 12 variations of actual dialogue programs, and warned about critical issues facing racial and diversity dialogues. They are also exposed to funding and support issues facing intergroup dialogue programs across the United States.

Intergroup Dialogue details the importance of skilled and competent dialogue facilitators, the need for diversity among dialogue group members, and the effects of individual, group, and systemic conflict in dialogue settings.

Readers new to racial and diversity issues will appreciate the comprehensive discussion of the characteristics and components of intergroup dialogue. This discussion provides a framework for evaluating the case studies and critical incidents. Readers more experienced in racial and diversity issues will appreciate the numerous case studies that highlight the similarities, differences, and constraints of intergroup dialogue programs across a variety of contexts.

Minding the Body: What Student Athletes Know About Learning
By Julie Cheville (2001). Boyton/Cook Publishers, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; 166 pages; $24.00

Reviewed by Stephen Chambers, director of institutional research and associate professor of history, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs;

Cheville’s manuscript is based on the premise that learning is a mind-body partnership that plays a central role in meaning and rationality. In this sense, the body itself is a crucial element in the way we learn; our physical experiences allow us to understand and to thrive in our personal environments. Nevertheless, Cheville points to “an ideological divide between mind and body” extant in learning institutions that in turn leads to denial of “conceptual diversity” within those institutions. This is especially detrimental to student athletes, who perhaps more than others tend to rely upon the mind-body partnership to know and to learn.

Cheville maintains that the standard lecture format classroom alienates many student athletes. By virtue of their personal histories and cultural environments, student athletes develop mental structures for learning that are different from those of the more traditional student. Educational and economic inequities faced early in life by many of these students offered little opportunity to learn in ways similar to those afforded other college students.

Their mental structures are often influenced by actions proven to be successful in athletic competition. Instructional styles geared toward more reflexive, affective, and image-associated mental structures have proved more effective in relating academic content and generating scholarly work from this group.

The author challenges those who claim that athletics cause a decline in academic standards or that they create intellectual drains at institutions of higher education. Such claims, Cheville concludes, reject “the transactional nature of critical inquiry.”

Cheville’s book calls for academe to implement a broader definition of intellectual development, one that explains cognitive diversity among all learners. She devotes a considerable amount of the book to providing examples of methods that faculty can use to broaden instruction to reach students who learn differently.

Student-Assisted Teaching: A Guide to Faculty-Student Teamwork
Judith E. Miller, James E. Groccia, and Marilyn S. Miller, Editors (2001). Anker Publishing, Bolton, Massachusetts; 260 pages, $31.95

Reviewed by: Donna M. Wilson, associate dean of academic affairs, Greenfield Community College;

In a pedagogical arena embracing student-centered instruction, it certainly seems a natural fit to include students helping other students. This is the thematic base for this book, in which the authors’ goal was to publish a practical resource for faculty members contemplating student-assisted teaching. As a definition, they cite student-assisted teaching as “an instructional process where undergraduates are given responsibility by faculty for portions of their fellow undergraduates’ learning experience.”

Divided into five parts, the book addresses undergraduate students assisting with programs for first-year students, difficult students, special groups, assisting in courses and programs for all students, and faculty development. Specific topics addressing these themes in the 31 chapters include a multitude of student-assisted teaching contexts, including distance education, honors programs, technology, two-year schools, active learning, portfolios, and freshman seminars.

The text is very well organized and timely, with topics for both the seasoned professional as well as someone contemplating using student-assistants for the first time. The bibliography is extensive and substantive. The appendices are very useful and provide very good student-assistant guidance on job descriptions, interview questions, training syllabi, teaching materials, and evaluations.

The editors also offer a factual and objective conclusion to their text for those considering and implementing student-assisted teaching. Theoretically, student-assistants have the potential to contribute to a cooperative and integrated learning atmosphere. Pragmatically, the editors also realize that an inequitable power base between instructor and student-assistants may be present or may surface. That inequity must be carefully considered when contemplating the use of student-assistants.

The University and Corporate America: Bridging the Two Worlds
By Lloyd H. Elliott (2001). National Heritage Books, Washington, DC; 338 pages; $29.95

Reviewed by Sara Anne Hook, associate dean of the faculties and professor of dental informatics, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis;

The University and Corporate America is surprisingly different from what would be expected from its title. Instead of a treatise on technology transfer or university-industry partnerships, it is a fictionalized narrative of many situations faced by a university president through the course of his academic career. Its author, former executive assistant to the president at Cornell, former president of the University of Maine and George Washington University, and a member of many corporate boards, is well qualified to write on this subject.

Chapters are devoted to such timely and important topics as academic freedom, tenure, compensation, the role of the president, philanthropy, and power, with compelling vignettes used to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of both academia and the corporate sector. The focus shifts back and forth from academic institutions to corporations, with its protagonist reflecting on the success and failure of each of the endeavors and an assessment of his own role in the process. The theme throughout the book is the need for clearer understanding between academia and corporations, and how these institutions can work together to serve individuals as well as society as a whole.

This is not a how-to book in the sense of giving advice or practical steps on how to improve relationships between the corporate sector and academia. Rather it serves to highlight the important similarities and differences between these two worlds in a way that is lively and illuminating without being either boring or preachy. In many instances, the vignettes lift the veil of secrecy that sometimes covers how things are really done behind the scenes in academia and within corporate boardrooms.

The book is an excellent resource for anyone in a leadership position in academia or for those who aspire to be in such a position in the future.

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Expanded Edition)
By the Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, Editors; with additional material from the Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, and James W. Pellegrino, Editors (2000). National Academy Press, Washington DC; 385 pages; $24.95; available free online at 

Reviewed by Phillip C. Wankat, Clifton L. Lovell Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University;

How People Learn authoritatively explains the scientific theories of learning in language that is readily understandable by non-experts. There are a large number of examples and illustrations to explain the abstract concepts. Applications to actual practice, mainly drawn from K–12 experience, are plentiful. There are chapters on the education of K–12 teachers and suggested research to study classroom teaching and its effect on learning. Professors can easily transfer the knowledge to apply the principles to higher education.

Many of the learning principles discussed in How People Learn, such as the need for fast feedback to help students overcome misconceptions, will be familiar to professors interested in teaching and learning. However, the book often provides additional fascinating details (for example, that to overcome misconceptions, feedback on experiments must occur in 20 to 30 minutes) and provides a wealth of resources for readers interested in pursuing any topic in more depth.

There are also learning principles, such as deliberate practice, that will probably be unfamiliar to most professors. Time-on-task alone often does not result in rapid learning of complex skills. Deliberate practice involves first breaking the task down into parts in the way that experts approach the task. Students then need to practice and master the skills required for each part as they work their way through the task. Very large increases in learning rates are reported when deliberate practice is employed.

Professors who want to increase student learning will find that How People Learn provides the learning principles they need to use as a basis for restructuring their courses.

Whites Confront Racism: Antiracists and Their Paths To Action
By Eileen O’Brien (2001). Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, Maryland; 176 pages; $67.00 ($21.95 paperback)

Reviewed by Mary Lou Anderson, dean and interim provost, Assumption College;

O’Brien, a sociology professor at State University of New York-Brockport, begins her unique study of white antiracists with a story recalled by Malcolm X. In his autobiography, he wrote about meeting a well meaning white woman, who, after one of his speeches, boards a plane to follow him to his next destination so she can ask him a question: “What can I do?” His response was “nothing.” According to O’Brien, Malcolm X later expressed deep regret at his response as he realized much later that both races have to work together to solve America’s race problem.

Using Malcom’s story, O’Brien, through extensive field research, shows how individual whites as well as white groups and organizations such as Anti-Racist Action are working to help all citizens understand that racism is a blot on our national character. O’Brien discovered that whites who are antiracist usually have come to their views through involvement with organizations, relationships, or some kind of social activism. Several people interviewed by O’Brien trace their involvement in antiracism activities to other action committees in college. Those who actively participated in anti–Vietnam War activities were often drawn to antiracist action.

O’Brien asserts, however, that “many white antiracists would not have gotten involved in this type of activism if an antiracist organization were not in existence in their communities.” She further points out that groups such as Anti-Racist Action and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, the two organizations she studied, rely on their view of racism to further their agenda.

By focusing on these two organizations, O’Brien is able to contrast the two groups and show that there are many different types of antiracism. While it may not be possible to find agreement or unity among all antiracists, O’Brien makes the point that accepting and respecting the other’s work in the antiracist movement is key to furthering the antiracist cause.

Whites Confront Racism is an interesting book and an important study on antiracism as a social movement led predominately by whites.

The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism
By Robert A. Harris (2001). Pyrczak Publishing, Los Angeles; 208 pages; $19.95

Reviewed by Mary Pinkerton, associate professor of English and associate dean, College of Letters and Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater;

As a seasoned teacher of freshman English and former department chair, I consider myself fairly adept at dealing with the cagey plagiarist. Still, in the age of the Internet, tactics are evolving. We all need help in tracking those few culprits, and this book provides some excellent information and tips.

Robert Harris gives advice about setting up a classroom climate in which plagiarism is discouraged and designing research assignments that make plagiarism more difficult to engage in successfully and easier to spot, and he follows up with very specific and up-to-date information on useful electronic tools.

The material in the first three chapters of the book (“Educating Yourself about Plagiarism,” “Educating Your Students about Plagiarism,” and “Constructing Assignments to Prevent Plagiarism”) will not be particularly new. The real strength of the book comes in chapters four and five. The most informative segment of the chapter “Detecting Plagiarism” discusses the importance of using multiple search engines to track suspect parts of papers. “Strategies for Dealing with Plagiarism” stresses the importance of being prepared and suggests a variety of questioning techniques, including the use of a modified cloze test.

This book contains excellent practical advice for the experienced teacher and the neophyte alike. Material about using web tools in the detection process provides its major contribution, but is contextualized within the larger questions of academic honesty, community membership, and institutional policy. Though there is some repetition, and the cartoons didn’t strike me as very funny, the book does provide some excellent information should the suspicion of plagiarism arise.

Challenges of a Changing America: Perspectives on Immigration and Multiculturalism in the United States
Ernest R. Myers, Editor (2nd Edition, 2001). Caddo Gap Press, San Francisco; 215 pages; $29.95

Reviewed by Joseph J. Wydeven, dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Bellevue University;

Framing crucial issues in immigration and multiculturalism, this book consists of studies and reports by Ernest Myers and 13 contributors that address dynamic changes in American demographics. Myers’s sometimes polemical opening chapter provides a historical perspective critical of the “Eurocentric racism” found in American immigration and refugee policies and sets the scene for the book’s three large emphases.

The first of these is the social psychology of African Americans, whose identities are shaped in part by the African diaspora and whose psychologies should be addressed within distinctive African-American family and community relationships.

The second is central to American multiculturalism, the social and psychological needs of recent immigrant and refugee groups — from Southeast Asia, El Salvador, Cuba, and Ethiopia. These groups, motivated by very different factors, nevertheless have in common a difficult transition to American life. Their healthy adjustment, these reports conclude, would be improved by better training (including improved language skills) of those staffing resettlement facilities, greater sensitivity to the customs and psychology of immigrants, and even the implementation of a national immigrant mental health center.

Third is the intercultural conflict between African Americans and the Korean Americans who have established commercial enterprises within African American communities. Myers presents empirical data on reactions from both groups, and suggests workshop solutions that defuse conflict, raise consciousness, and deflate rumors — such as the fallacious belief that Koreans are sponsored in business by the U.S. government.

This book should be of much interest to educators. The works are accessible — though poorly edited — and the conclusions broadly applicable to other pertinent groups. Despite politically heated, reductionist either-ors, multicultural education is necessary to combat intercultural fears and misunderstandings; at the same time a unified American perspective is essential to the proper education of immigrants newly involved in America life.

Academic Freedom: A Guide to the Literature
Stephen H. Aby and James C. Kuhn IV, Compilers (2000). Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut; 225 pages; $75.00

Reviewed by John A. Downey, graduate student, Higher Education Administration Program, University of Virginia;

In this comprehensive review of the academic freedom literature, structured as a series of 481 abstracts, the compilers provide informative summaries arranged in topical chapters. The introduction provides Aby and Kuhn’s rationale for the book’s organizational structure, and the text exposes the myriad of influences that have continuously altered the concept of academic freedom in higher education.

The compilers begin by reviewing articles concerning philosophies behind the concept of academic freedom. In chapters two through six, various aspects of the history of academic freedom are scrutinized. Chapter seven is concerned with the “culture wars” during the modern era of higher education. The premise that modern attacks on academic freedom come from both liberal and conservative ideology is evident from the diversity of articles presented. Ultimately the compilers demonstrate that polarity of political perspectives prompts several scholars to call for a balance between academic freedom and responsibility. The influence of academic freedom on religion and tenure are the subjects of chapters eight and nine respectively, whereas chapter 10 is concerned with academic freedom around the world. In the final chapter a comprehensive listing of academic freedom websites is provided.

The book is a marvelous compilation of the literature. Although a chronological index of the entire set of the 481 citations could have helped the reader understand each article in light of an overall historical context, this small oversight did not diminish the important benefit of the book’s organizational structure. The thematic chapter topics help the reader understand the fundamental factors influencing the historical construct of academic freedom. The diversity of those factors, from the influence of the church in the Middle Ages, to loyalty pledges during World War I, to the fears of communism during the Cold War, to the modern culture wars and the rise of litigation today, demonstrates the breadth of historical pressures that threatened the free and open expression of ideas in higher education.

Still, academic freedom endures, even in the face of new threats that emerge from the use of technology, calls for fiscal accountability, and legislative activism. What becomes clear from Aby and Kuhn’s review is that the enduring concept of academic freedom will never remain stagnant. Instead, academic freedom will forever change as historical events contribute to the tension between the free and open exchange of ideas on the one hand, and the academy’s desire for accountability to the public on the other.

The Transition to College Writing
By Keith Hjortshoj (2001). Bedford/St. Martin’s, Boston; 228 pages; $18.50

Reviewed by W. Jeffrey Marsh, associate professor, Brigham Young University;

Because there are so many types of colleges to choose from, secondary schools cannot possibly prepare students for each unique environment. Hjortshoj’s underlying premise for his book is that most secondary school preparations are for college admission rather than for the college experience, and that this is particularly true in regards to college writing.

Beginning with the question “Are you prepared for college?”, Hjortshoj leads readers through a thoughtful analysis of the many transition issues facing every college student. He deals with the diverse hurdles students run into as they begin writing across the curriculum, including: What do college teachers expect? How can you approach each writing assignment best? How do you stay on top of all the reading assigned in college? How can you learn to read more strategically? How do we do investigative writing? Why should you learn to revise your approach to research papers? Why does dense jargon and chatty informality undermine clarity? What are the best note-taking practices? How do you establish a voice and perspective of your own in your writing?

Don’t be misled, however. Hjortshoj’s book is more than a simple “how-to” guide. It is loaded with examples of practically every kind of college writing students will encounter and is filled with pragmatic wisdom regarding transition issues. As a trained anthropologist, and now director of the Writing Across the Majors program at Cornell University, Hjortshoj provides enlightening examples of successful writing strategies across the curriculum, including the sciences. Perhaps the most important question Hjortshoj answers for students is, “How is college writing different and how can you succeed at it?”

This book has been carefully designed to help students negotiate their transition into higher education, and to help them more quickly and effectively adapt to the expectations and standards of the college environment. It is well written and engaging. It is geared to new students as well as those who are already on campus. Regardless of discipline, faculty members and students alike will find Hjortshoj’s book one of the most useful writing primers dealing with transition and writing in higher education.

Copyright © 2008 - American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation