The Journal of Higher Education 75.2 (2004) 239
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Creating Campus Community: In Search of Ernest Boyer's Legacy by William M. McDonald and Associates. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002. 200 pp. ISBN 0-7879-5700-3.
Building a community is messy human architecture. This collection of institutional narratives intends to illustrate a variety of designs, some at small, denominational colleges (Messiah College, Carson-Newman College) others at large public institutions (Penn State University, Oregon State University, SUNY Stony Brook). Each narrative describes a campus community-growing project in enough detail that a reader might visualize the necessary scaffolding. Each chapter contributes to a set of themes that illustrates essential scaffolding for community building. The themes include the importance of (a) understanding and communicating the institution's mission; (b) identifying and using a common language for community; (c) being clear that community-building demands commitment, caring, and relationship-building; (d) aligning institutional mission and daily practice; and (e) being savvy to the great individualism/communitas paradox in U.S. higher education.
McDonald and Associates (the associates are the many contributing authors to this volume) wrote the book to honor the work of Ernest Boyer, a Messiah graduate, but better known as the president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1979-1995. Toward the end of Boyer's life, Carnegie published his report, Campus Life: In Search of Community (1990). Concerned that colleges and universities were anything but communities, Boyer articulated six conditions that could be translated into every day practices. McDonald lists them in the preface: an educationally purposeful place where learning is the focus; an open place where civility is affirmed; a just place where persons are honored and diversity pursued; a disciplined place where group obligations guide behavior; a caring place where individuals are supported/service is encouraged; a celebrative place where traditions are shared. Boyer thus imagined educative structures where to learn means to thrive.
As each of the five narratives illustrates, this is no small order. The book, taken as a whole or by chapter, will be especially useful to leaders who aim to transform institutional practice and want to picture a range of designs. The message, however, in each of the five narratives is the same. Community building exacts institutional resources that include fiscal resources, human energy, and the alignment of belief and practice. The authors of these accounts, guided by Boyer's blueprint, first imagined such communities, then built them. Are these perfect structures? Of course not, but they don't have to be. As works- in-progress, the examples illustrate the difficulty of campus community building and its value.
University of Wyoming