John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

The International FYE Movement Continues

John N. Gardner
President

I don’t have any idea how many of my readers have founded something and left it as a legacy to  successors. But in my case, one of the things I am most proud of and pleased with is the job my successors in the USC National Resource Center at the University of South Carolina (Stuart Hunter, Nina Glisson, Jennifer Keup, and their conference organization team) have done to institutionalize, sustain, and expand the series of International Conferences on The First-Year Experience which I founded in 1986.

This week we offer our 24th International Conference, this one hosted in Great Britain as many of them have been previously, in Manchester. This meeting will follow a meeting of a spin off organization, the European FYE Conference series. One of the most important and useful outcomes of our series has been to serve as a catalyst for a European adaptation of which we are also most proud.

As approximately 250 delegates convene from 23 countries, they will represent the higher education systems of:

Australia
Belgium
Canada
Denmark
Finland
Grenada
Jamaica
South Korea
Japan
Republic of Ireland
Netherlands
New  Zealand
Nigeria
Norway
People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong)
Republic of South Africa
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Switzerland
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States

To me this international representation represents many things:

1. The “convergence factor” of increasing similarities in all societies seeking to expand access to tertiary education
2. The institutionalization of the so-called “first-year experience” movement
3. A testimony to the powerful pioneering role played by the University of South Carolina in organizing the first convenings on this topic
4. The fact that the “FYE” increasingly has taken on some elements of disciplinary status, one of them being international ownership, scholarship, research, publication, and practical applications.

So if any of my readers are on campuses where there are still questions about the legitimacy of these efforts to improve success of first-year students, this conference series development is one more piece of evidence of the legitimacy of this academic undertaking, now in its third decade of international outreach.

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