What is Foundations of Excellence®?

Now more than ever in challenging economic times, your campus needs an action plan for the critical beginning college experience. Foundations of Excellence® will yield a new vision for enhanced learning and retention of first-year and transfer students as well as priorities for resource allocation. Foundations of Excellence is a comprehensive, externally guided self-study and improvement process for the first year. In 2009 the first year self-study was expanded to include a focus on transfer students. The centerpiece of Foundations of Excellence is a model comprised of a set of principles that are termed Foundational Dimensions® . These Dimensions, developed by the Policy Center on the First Year of College (now John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education) and vetted by over 300 four- and two-year institutions, guide measurement of institutional efforts and provide an aspirational model for the entirety of the beginning college experience (initial contact with students through admissions, orientation, and all curricular and co-curricular experiences). These Dimensions also provide an intellectual foundation for the entirety of the undergraduate experience.

The engine of The Foundations of Excellence process is a campus-based task force - a group with broad representation from across the campus. The work of the task force begins with a campus audit of the first year for new and transfer students (the " Current Practices Inventory ") and continues with a nine- to twelve-month process of evaluation using the Foundational Dimensions and related performance indicators (P.I.'s), and culminates in the development of a strategic action plan for campus improvement. Institutions that participate in the Foundations of Excellence process will have access to a wide array of services and support.  

The Foundations of Excellence process is the signature work of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. The Institute, founded in October 1999, has enjoyed the support of the following philanthropies for the development of its work: The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Lumina Foundation for Education, USA Funds, and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.