John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

What is Foundations of Excellence (FoE)?

Designed to guide you and your institution through a comprehensive, evidence-based, externally guided self-study and improvement process to bring about transformational change in student success and retention of first-year and/or transfer students.

FoE-options_webNow more than ever in challenging economic times, your campus needs a strategic action plan for the critical beginning college experience. Foundations of Excellence (FoE) will yield a new vision for enhanced learning and retention of first-year and/or transfer students as well as priorities for resource allocation. As a participating institution, you will select to focus on the first year (FoE First Year) and/or the collegiate transfer (FoE Transfer).

The centerpiece of FoE is a model comprised of a set of principles that are termed Foundational Dimensions®. These Dimensions, developed by the Gardner Institute, formerly the Policy Center on the First Year of College, 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 FoE 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 (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 FoE process will have access to a wide array of services and support.

FoE is generally a one-year process with an optional but highly recommended second year (FoE Implement) focused on implementation of your action plan(s). In addition, we offer FoE Refresh for former FoE participating institutions that want to update and re-energize their FoE process and/or action plan(s).

FoE has been used by hundreds of institutions – including entire systems and/or districts – to improve the first-year and/or transfer experience as well as measurably improve student retention and related tuition revenue.

Participation in FoE is open to any regionally accredited four- or two-year postsecondary institution in the US and comparable educational institutions in other countries. Apply to be a part of the next FoE cohort today.