John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Metropolitan Community College – Longview

Institutional Profile

Foundations of Excellence® Cohort:
2005-2006 Two-Year Founding
Carnegie Classification:
Associate’s/Public-Urban-Serving Multi-campus
Regional Accreditation:
Higher Learning Commission
Contact Information:

Dr. Elizabeth Lindquist,

Dean of Instructional Services

Dr. Marvin Aaron,

Associate Dean of Student Development

Implementing New "First Learning Year Theme" (FLYT) Teams
Linda Nelson,

Director of Teaching and Learning Support

In 2005, the Policy Center on the First Year of College selected MCC-Longview to be a participant in the Foundations of Excellence Project. After completing a yearlong self study, a final report including over 70 action plans items was submitted by Longview ‘s First Learning Year Team (FLYT) to the Policy Center. A philosophy statement was crafted and the action items were arranged under five overarching themes: organization, communication, best practices, connections, and assessment. The final report was presented to FLYT members during a celebratory retreat at a local botanical garden, introduced in a skit at the fall 2006 In-service, and e-mailed to all employees.

In the fall of 2006, FLYT reorganized into five “Implementing New First Learning Year Theme” (INFLYT) teams with members from instruction, student development, and the student body. The INFLYT teams comprised the larger FLYT group with oversight by a steering committee. The FLYT Steering Committee expanded to include the President, Dean of Instructional Services, Director of Research & Assessment, Dean of Student Development, Associate Dean of Student Development, Director of Teaching & Learning Support, Division Chairs, and INFLYT Co-chairs.

Work of the FLYT Teams

The self-organizing “theme” teams established three-year plans for implementation of the action items, and began work on Year One (2006-07) initiatives. Three-Year Plan templates were created and teams submitted them to the FLYT Steering Committee. Teams were asked to post their plans on a share-drive to document progress. With the support of administration, action plan funding proposals were submitted and approved for the work of the teams.

The action items of the Organization Team included “focusing budget on first-year initiatives” and “establishing an ESL program.” Funds were used to re-administer the student survey and engage Randy Swing, former Co-Director of the Policy Center, to keynote the Spring 2007 In-service. The ESL initiative was launched using task-force data documenting the need in the community. The Organization Team visited a local resettlement agency, attended a training course at a local high school, and hosted a cultural awareness workshop for frontline college staff. ESL courses were offered for the first time in Fall 2007.

The Communication Team responded to the FoE Student Survey question that found 57.3% of Longview students did not believe that the college helped their families feel part of the college experience. A parent web-site and handbook were created. Parent orientation sessions were developed and offered; the First-Year Philosophy Statement was distributed; and a panel comprised of a counselor, administrator, financial aid coordinator, and faculty member spoke and answered questions.

The Best Practices Team action items guided the creation of a survey to determine best practices on campus, the establishment of an award to recognize outstanding employees, and the development of a prerequisite block of courses for first-year students. In addition, action items directed the team to help students establish a career plan early in their first year. As a result, an “undecided” student group was added to enrollment sessions where counselors provided information on career planning, and later made follow-up calls to the students. Professional development, including sending personnel to national conferences, was supported by the team.

The Connections Team successfully completed a number of action item goals. They developed and offered a BIOL/GUID/MATH learning community; funded the purchase of furniture to create a student lounge in order to foster student interaction; and provided advising outreach, resulting in a 66% increase in enrollment from an area high school. A common academic experience, The New York Times Across-the-Curriculum, was implemented.

The Assessment Team administered the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) as well as student satisfaction surveys for the enrollment sessions. A tracking system was implemented in the Student Information Center, Advising, Access Office, Learning Assistance Center, and Library. In addition, the team recommended new Compass cut scores.

"Every process, department, employee, and student has been touched in some way as a result of the Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year Project."

Results of the FLYT Team Work

Anecdotal reports reflect a changed campus culture: more cooperation and collaboration between departments, more engaged students and more engaged employees, and much more intentional attention to the first year of college. Recently, the Dean of Instructional Services shared the philosophy statement with the new faculty; it continues to be a reminder and guide. Indeed, every process, department, employee, and student has been touched in some way as a result of the Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year Project.

Periodically, the larger FLYT group meets to share and to celebrate accomplishments. FLYT gatherings are well-attended and filled with a sense of purpose, an attitude of camaraderie, and a feeling of renewal. An affirmation of applause (three claps), toasting with sparkling grape juice, or ringing bells have become FLYT rituals. A number of skits and presentations celebrated successes while increasing awareness and interest across the campus. Collaboration for the common purpose of improving first-year student learning and success continues to inspire our efforts. MCC-Longview has completed its first year initiatives—turning aspirations into improvements for the first year of college.