This past Tuesday, the College was fortunate to have a day-long session with Dr. John Gardner, founder of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Dr. Gardner is an experienced educator who has devoted much of his career to developing a methodological approach to improving the early college experience with the goal of improving student success. As the College’s consultant on our Foundations of Excellence (FoE) self-study, he spent the day meeting with many different campus stakeholders to explain the process, share observations, and offer suggestions for implementation and potential focus areas.  I believe that the consensus is that John is a man of integrity and high intellect, who brings many years of valuable experience in higher education. He will be a tremendous resource to the College as we proceed with our own analysis of the First-Year Experience.

After meeting with the General Chairs Committee and sharing information on our progress to date in the formation of self-study committees, it became apparent that the faculty is currently underrepresented on the nine Dimensions of Excellence committees. The FoE process is a tremendous opportunity for those who are interested in pedagogy to become involved by assessing our current first-year experience and developing recommendations for improvement.  Undoubtedly, we have established many excellent processes; now we have a chance to optimize these processes and define our educational aspirations for our beginning student cohorts.

The FoE self-study is highly focused, while allowing individuals who participate to incorporate their own unique perspectives in the format of small committee discussions. The analyses are data-driven and are based on surveys that will be administered to both student and faculty/staff populations. I urge the faculty to take ownership of this initiative and become a member of one or more of the dimension groups. Since we are nearing the semester break, it is essential that you join now so that we can finalize the committees.

Please contact your Chair or Dean and volunteer for one of the nine Dimensions of Excellence Committees: Philosophy, Organization, Learning, Faculty/Campus Culture, Transitions, All Students, Diversity, Roles & Purposes, and Improvement. The more faculty who are involved, the more this is a faculty process. There are still opportunities to serve on the Steering Committee and even to participate as one of the co-chairs of this self-study. If you need additional information about the committees, please contact Deborah Vess, Ramona Brown, Susan Holak, Ralf Peetz, Irina Lyublinskaya, Deborah Franzblau, or your academic Deans.  For more information and background about the John N. Gardner Institution for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, please consult the organization’s Website  or our FOE Website.