Augsburg News

News Archives - 2003

Augsburg College selected to participate in national project

Sept. 26, 2003

Augsburg College of Minneapolis, has been named one of 12 "Founding Institutions" selected to participate in a national project known as the "Foundations of Excellence in the First Year of College." The project, jointly sponsored by the Policy Center on the First Year of College and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), will develop a model of excellence for the first college year. This model can be used by small, private colleges 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 Philanthropies.

Research has long indicated that new students who are successfully integrated into college are much more likely to graduate. Many colleges, therefore, work especially hard to create a first-rate first year. According to Randy Swing, Co-Director of the Policy Center, attention to the first year will benefit students by helping them to graduate and will benefit institutions by helping them retain students through graduation.

Since February 2003, the Foundations of Excellence project has involved 94 small colleges across the country in identifying the Dimensions of Excellence that constitute a model first year. Of the 94 institutions that participated in spring 2003, 12 were selected through a competitive application process to continue work with the Policy Center and its research partner, the Center for the Study of Higher Education at The Pennsylvania State University. Criteria for selection included a strong campus commitment of the first year and readiness to engage in evaluation and improvement. Over the next 15 months, these institutions will further refine and pilot use of the Dimensions. Specifically, colleges will measure their effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, housing, orienting, supporting, advising, and teaching new students. They will then be able to make programmatic improvements that will increase student learning, success, and persistence to graduation. The blueprint will represent the first holistic examination of the many elements that get students off to the right start.

In describing the importance of this project, John N. Gardner, executive director of the Policy Center on the First Year of College, located in Brevard, North Carolina said, "While much is known about how a campus can improve first-year learning and retention, this information has never been synthesized or translated into aspirational standards that are reflective of best practice. The absence of clear standards has powerful educational and financial consequences. This project brings together a number of highly credible researchers, reformers, and practioners, who, along with their CIC partners will create the blueprint that for too long has been missing."