Front: Bethany Andreasen, faculty member in history and Faculty Senate president, Gary Rabe, vice president for academic affairs, Pat Hubel, academic projects and research. Back: David Fuller, president, John Girard, enrollment services, and Dick Jenkins, vice president for student affairs.
MSU selected to participate in national higher education project
August 17, 2007
During the coming year, Minot State University will participate in a national higher education project known as "Foundations of Excellence® in the First College Year." The project, sponsored by the Policy Center on the First Year of College, will utilize a model of excellence for the first college year. This model can be used by colleges and universities to develop and refine their overall approach to educating first-year students.
Research has long indicated that new students who are successfully integrated into college are much more likely to succeed. Many colleges, therefore, work especially hard to create a first-rate experience for new students. According to Randy Swing, co-director and senior scholar of the Policy Center, attention to the first year will benefit students by helping them to meet their educational goals and will benefit institutions by helping them retain students through graduation.
In response to the selection, Gary Rabe, Minot State University vice president for academic affairs said the institution is "absolutely delighted and honored" to be selected for participation in the two-year program.
"I have been saying that this is a pivotal year for Minot State University. First, we have to be successful in our reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission," said Rabe. "Second, this is the year that we need to grow legs on Vision 2013, our new strategic plan. We have to start taking action on its priorities. Participating in Foundations of Excellence fits perfectly with MSU’s strategy to foster engaged learning and place for the benefit of students. Indeed, one of the priorities contained in that strategy is planning and developing a first-rate comprehensive program to support first-year students, their retention and their success. This is, indeed, a perfect fit."
Since February of 2003, the Foundations of Excellence project has involved over 300 two- and four-year colleges and universities across the country in developing the standards ("Foundational Dimensions®") that constitute a model first year. Minot State University is one of 26 institutions that will work with the Policy Center and its technology support and educational survey partner, Educational Benchmarking, Inc. in 2007-2008. Member institutions will measure their effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising, and teaching new students. They will then be able to make programmatic improvements that will increase student learning, success, and persistence.
Speaking from personal experience as a former project liaison and currently as the associate director of the Policy Center, Kathleen Morley remarked, "I have been most impressed by the extent to which project leaders are finding the Foundations of Excellence® process impacting institutional culture - something most would agree is a true challenge at institutions of higher education."
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, N.C., said, "While much is known about how a campus can improve new student 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 practitioners, who are creating the blueprint that for too long has been missing."
Betsy Barefoot, co-director and senior scholar, adds that the standards are not only aspirational, but they can also be used to measure an institution’s current level of excellence in its approach to the first year. Barefoot is the senior staff member who will serve as the primary advisor to Minot State University.
Along with 13 two-year institutions, the following four-year institutions will be participating in the 2007-2008 Foundations of Excellence cohort: Bethune Cookman University in Florida, Buena Vista University in Iowa, California State University-San Marcos, Centenary College New Jersey, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina, Framingham State University, Massachusetts, Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Morgan State University in Maryland, Salem State College in Massachusetts, State University of New York at Stony Brook, University of Texas at El Paso and Western New Mexico University. Support for this project has been provided by Lumina Foundation for Education.