Plymouth State University has been named a “Founding Institution” for
participation in phase two of the national project known as the Foundations of
Excellence™ in the First College Year. Plymouth State is one of only 12
institutions selected from the 125 that participated in phase one last spring.
The Foundations of Excellence project, sponsored jointly by the Policy Center
on the First Year of College and the American Association of State Colleges and
Universities (AASCU), will develop a model of excellence for the first college year.
This model can be used by public colleges and universities to develop and refine
their overall approach to educating new students. Funding for the two-year
project has been provided by Lumina Foundation for Education and The Atlantic
“We’re so excited to be part of this project,” says Julie Bernier, associate vice
president for undergraduate studies. “I credit the efforts of our faculty and staff
who have long been committed to developing the best possible experience for our
first-year students. We were selected for our track record of successful first-year
work, our willingness to take a critical look at every aspect of the programs and
services we provide, and to identify ways we can do things even better.”
To qualify for selection in phase II, interested phase I institutions were required
to submit a formal application and a report on their work in phase I. These were
read and scored by members of an external review board who made recommendations
to the Policy Center. Final decisions were based on the readiness of the
Founding Institutions to participate, their prior commitment to first-year students,
and their particular demographic/geographic characteristics. Phase II will be
ongoing from fall of 2003 through fall of 2004.
During the 2003-2004 academic year, Policy Center staff, researchers from
Penn State, and other consultants provided by the Policy Center will work with and
visit the Founding Institutions. Each of these institutions will establish a task force
to undertake a major study of their first-year experience; collect and provide to
project researchers existing campus baseline assessment data; conduct an audit
of current practices specifically designed to enhance the success of first-year
students; investigate first-year instruction across the curriculum; and conduct
certain assessments of first-year student outcomes, including use of the National
Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
Founding Institutions will measure their effectiveness in recruiting, admitting,
housing, orienting, supporting, advising and teaching new students. From this
examination, programmatic improvements can be made to increase student
learning, success and persistence to graduation.
The other Founding Institutions are Chadron State College, Kennesaw State
University, CUNY Brooklyn College, Missouri Western State College, CUNY Medgar
Evers College, Georgia Southwestern State University, SUNY College at Brockport,
Illinois State University, Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi, Indiana University-
Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.