Dr. Barefoot served for 11 years as Co-Director for Research and Publications in the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina. In this position, she engaged in ongoing research on first-year programming in American higher education and co-edited a number of publications including the Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition and a series of single-topic monographs. While at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Barefoot also served as a clinical faculty member in the University of South Carolina’s College of Education and taught graduate courses in Principles of College Teaching, Contemporary Trends and Issues in Higher Education, a special topics seminar on The First-Year Experience, as well as the University 101 first-year seminar. She was also involved in acquiring grant funds, designing, and implementing a campus-wide program to provide training in methods of college teaching for graduate teaching assistants at the University of South Carolina.
Dr. Barefoot has also authored and co-authored a number of publications including the 2005 Jossey-Bass books, Achieving and Sustaining Institutional Excellence for the First Year of College, and Challenging and Supporting the First-Year Student: A Handbook for the First Year of College, and most recently (in 2016) The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most. She has also edited The First Year and Beyond: Rethinking the Challenge of Collegiate Transition, a 2008 volume of New Directions for Higher Education. Dr. Barefoot currently serves as co-editor of the New Directions for Higher Educations series. She continues her interest in music as an occasional vocal performer, pianist, and church organist. She is married to another scholar of the first-year experience, John N. Gardner. The “BGs,” as they are known in their neighborhood, reside in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina.
To contact Betsy, please email her at email@example.com or call 828-475-6018.
In this role he co-operates several internal processes including web-based platform support, webinars and database administration. He also assists with event planning, and IT support.
Ethan is a native of Asheville, North Carolina. Prior to joining the JNGI team, Ethan attended the University of North Carolina Asheville where he completed a B.A. in Political Science in the Spring of 2015.
To contact Ethan, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-449-1072
John is an educator, university professor and administrator, non-profit organization chief executive officer, author, editor, public speaker, consultant, change agent, student retention specialist, first-year, sophomore, transfer, and senior year students’ advocate, and initiator and scholar of the American first-year and senior-year reform movements. He serves as President of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (JNGI).
The Institute was founded by John and his wife, Dr. Betsy O. Barefoot, in October 1999 as the Policy Center on the First Year of College. The Policy Center was launched by an initial grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, and has been subsequently funded by additional grants from Pew, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Lumina Foundation for Education, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, and USA Funds. In 2007 the Policy Center underwent a legal and name change to the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and an expansion of its mission to focus more broadly on excellence in undergraduate education, as a fully autonomous 501(c)(3) non-profit entity. Since its inception in 1999, the Institute has received over $8,000,000 in support from its philanthropic partners, most recently again from Lumina Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.
JNGI works with colleges and universities to strengthen their resolve and processes to undertake assessment and other improvement actions to increase student learning and retention. JNGI focuses its work on the use of a previously non-existent set of aspirational standards for improvement of the first-year, the transfer student experience, and the gateway course experiences of students at all undergraduate levels. These first-year and transfer standards are known as JNGI’s “Foundational Dimensions”® in a process called Foundations of Excellence® in the First College Year or Foundations of Excellence® – Transfer Focus. In addition, JNGI offers several additional processes for student learning, success, retention and completion including Gateways to Completion® (G2C®) to improve student performance in high failure rate gateway courses and Retention Performance Management® (RPM®) to improve retention rates for specific cohorts such as first year, sophomores, first-generation, low-income, etc.
John is also the Founding Director and Senior Fellow of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. The National Resource Center, founded by Gardner in 1986, organizes the popular and influential conferences on The First-Year Experience, Students in Transition, and also disseminates information through an extensive series of scholarly publications, videos, national and international conferences, workshops, seminars, and teleconferences. Gardner “retired” in 1999 after 32 1/2 years of service to the people of South Carolina, but continues to serve them in a reduced and more focused way in his role of Senior Fellow (in addition to his full-time appointment with JNGI). He served as Executive Director of both the first-year seminar course, University 101, from 1974-1999, and the National Center from 1986-99. From 1983-96, he also served as Vice Chancellor/Associate Vice Provost for Regional Campuses and Continuing Education.
In his capacity with the National Resource Center, John provides advice, counsel, and intellectual leadership and vision as called upon by his colleagues in the Center. He is actively involved in hosting and presenting at Center conferences, seminars, workshops, and teleconferences. He also remains very involved, as always, in the Center’s scholarship and research activities as in its monograph series and other publishing activities.
Thanks to the US Air Force, Gardner was involuntarily sent to South Carolina in 1967 where he served his active duty assignment as a psychiatric social worker in the 363rd Tactical Hospital at Shaw Air Force Base. At the direct order of his squadron commander he became a part-time adjunct instructor for the University of South Carolina while he was on active duty. After completing his military service, Gardner held a two-year temporary appointment as Instructor of History at Winthrop College from 1968-70, and then began his full-time faculty career at USC Columbia in 1970. He taught courses in American and South Carolina history, interpersonal communications for librarians, public speaking, higher education administration, and other special topics. He also regularly taught the first-year seminar, University 101, and a special topics graduate seminar course he developed for the College of Education on “The First-Year Experience.” From 1994-1998 he developed and taught University 401, Senior Capstone Experience (as a sequel to University 101, only for departing students), and this remains one of his legacies to USC about which he is most satisfied in terms of the help it offers students.
Gardner is the recipient of numerous local and national professional awards including USC’s highest award for teaching excellence, the AMOCO Award for Outstanding Teaching (1975), and the Division of Student Affairs Faculty Award “for outstanding contributions……”(1976). The University of South Carolina Alumni Association conferred upon him its highest award for a non-alum, the Honorary Life Membership “for devoted service in behalf of the University” in 1997. He was also named the 1998 recipient of the University’s Administrative Affirmative Action Award “for an outstanding job in promoting equal opportunities at the University.” In 1999, he was the recipient of a University award created and named in his honor, “The John N. Gardner Inspirational Faculty Award” to be given henceforth to a member of the University faculty “who has made substantial contributions to the learning environment in campus residence hall life.” Gardner is the recipient of twelve honorary doctoral degrees recognizing him for his contributions to American higher education (from his alma mater, Marietta College, 1985; Baldwin-Wallace College, 1990; Bridgewater State College, 1991; Millikin University, 1999; Purdue University, 2000; University of Teesside, UK, 2000; Rowan University, 2001: Thiel College, 2006; Indiana University, 2008; Clarion University of Pennsylvania, 2009, the University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2012, and Northwest Missouri State University in 2013.
In 1986, John was selected by the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) as one of 20 faculty in the U. S. who “… have made outstanding leadership contributions to their institutions and/or American higher education.” In 1996 he was recognized by the Council of Independent Colleges with its Academic Leadership Award “for exemplary contributions to American higher education.” He has served on the Board of Directors/Trustees for AAHE, the International Partnership for Service Learning, Marietta College, and the Brevard Music Center; and on advisory boards for The American Council on Education, The Association of American Colleges and Universities, The New York Times, and Lumina Foundation for Education. Gardner’s work has been favorably reviewed in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, The Times of London,U.S. News and World Report, Money magazine, and numerous other publications. In the January 1998 issue of Change, Gardner was cited in an article naming approximately 80 people as the “past, present, and future leaders of higher education.” The authors of this study drew on the results of 11,000 questionnaires to name the leaders whom The Chronicle of Higher Education dubbed “the movers and shakers.” Gardner was included in a special category of eleven so called “agenda-setters.” Also in 1998 Gardner was named as one of the “top ten professionals who have most influenced student affairs practitioners.” This was based on a random sample of practitioners throughout the country as part of a study entitled “The Professional Influence Project” sponsored by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Foundation and conducted by The University of Georgia. In 1999 Gardner was awarded by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) the Virginia N. Gordon Award for Excellence in the Field of Advising, to recognize his contributions towards the enhancement of academic advisement in American higher education. One of the nation’s two major professional organizations for student affairs officers, The American College Personnel Association, recognized him with its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2002.
Gardner is best known as the initiator (in 1982) of an international reform movement in higher education to call attention to and improve what he originally coined “The Freshman Year Experience” and then renamed “The First-Year Experience.” Moreover, since 1990 he has developed a special focus on a second critical transition during the college years to improve and champion: “The Senior Year Experience.” In 1995, he renamed the Center he directed at USC to The National Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, to signify a broader and more generic focus on the need for institutions to focus more intentionally on “students in transition.” John and his colleagues at USC are currently driving a new national discussion about another critical transition in college and have authored a recent book, published by Jossey-Bass, on the sophomore year experience.
Gardner’s special area of expertise in higher education was for almost three decades the creation of programs to enhance the learning, success, retention, and graduation of students in transition, especially first-year students, for example through first-year seminar courses. But more recently, since 2003, his efforts have been directed almost exclusively to working with institutions to look beyond this long standing “programmatic” approach to improving the first year and instead to focus the entire experience of first-year or transfer students. Gardner has also served as a workshop leader or trainer in hundreds of faculty development events and has spoken on/consulted with over 500 campuses in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Denmark, and Norway on issues related to first-year and senior students.
John would say in terms of his legacy that the most important work of his career is his current career capstone push to reduce unacceptable D,W,F, I grades in gateway courses (through the Institute’s Gateways to Completion, G2C, process) which have a hugely disproportionate impact on students being able to fulfill their dreams and aspirations and on high attrition rates.
Gardner has authored/co-authored numerous articles and books, including: College is Only the Beginning (1985 and 1989); Step by Step to College Success (1987), Your College Experience (1992,1993,1995,1996,1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 originally with A. Jerome Jewler and in subsequent editions also with Betsy O. Barefoot, Bedford/St.Martins; The Freshman Year Experience (1989) with M. Lee Upcraft, Jossey-Bass; Ready for The Real World (1994) with William Hartel and Associates, International Thompson Publishing; The Senior Year Experience (1998), with Gretchen Van der Veer, Jossey-Bass; Challenging and Supporting the First-Year Student, (2005), with M. Lee Upcraft and Betsy O. Barefoot, Jossey-Bass; Achieving and Sustaining Institutional Excellence for the First Year of College (2005), with Betsy O. Barefoot and Associates, Jossey-Bass; Helping Sophomores Succeed, (2010), with Mary Stuart Hunter and Barbara F. Tobolowsky and Associates, Jossey-Bass; Developing and Sustaining Successful-First-Year Programs, (2013), with Gerald M. Greenfield and Jennifer R. Keup, Jossey-Bass; and The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most (2016), with Peter Felten, Leo Lambert, Charles Schroder, and Betsy Barefoot.
John is married to his professional partner of twenty-five years, Dr. Betsy O. Barefoot. They reside on their twenty-one acre mountain top property in the beautiful western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains near Brevard.
To contact John, please email him at email@example.com or call 828-885-6014.
Betsy joined JNGI in July 2008 as an Associate Director. She serves as an advisor to campuses that are conducting JNGI’s Foundations of Excellence self-studies. Dr. Griffin, also, serves as the primary contact for institution assistance with the Foundations of Excellence surveys and participates in a variety of other Institute activities.
Dr. Griffin came to the Institute with over 30 years experience in higher education. After a brief time at Franklin College in Indiana, most of her tenure was at Missouri Southern State University. Her experience includes many years as a professor of psychology and numerous administrative positions. Dr. Griffin’s administrative positions include Department Head, Interim Dean, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. Several of Dr. Griffin’s roles have provided her with experience working with first-year programs and first-year students. She was the co-coordinator of Missouri Southern State University’s Foundations of Excellence self-study and helped oversee the development and implementation of the resulting action plans. Earlier as Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, she was responsible for the coordination of the learning community program, including recruiting and training the faculty and tracking the success of the program. During most of her career she maintained contact with first-year students by teaching introductory psychology courses.
Dr. Griffin was the co-coordinator of two self-studies for institutional re-accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association. The most recent self-study included a special emphasis on the first year of college using the Foundations of Excellence process. Betsy has made several presentations on self-study at the annual meetings of the Higher Learning Commission. She wrote or oversaw the writing of eight of affiliation status change requests. She also participated in an HLC Assessment Workshop and Assessment Academy Roundtable. She coordinated her campus’ faculty development efforts for over a decade. Her primary focus was on promoting pedagogies of engagement including active learning, critical thinking, and classroom assessment. Betsy received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from East Carolina University. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology at the University of South Carolina. Her research has been primarily in the areas of gender stereotyping, attribution theory, and negotiation strategies. She is a 1997 recipient of the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Griffin received extensive training in Organizational Development through NTL. She has process consulting experience with a variety of not-for-profit organizations.
To contact Betsy, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-449-8048.
Julie is a native of Illinois. Before joining the Gardner Institute in November of 2016, Ms. Heller worked as the PR Director for a historic park and museum. Ms. Heller’s previous experience also includes teaching gateway courses in higher education at Ranken College in St. Louis. She also has worked for a consortium of PBS stations in the Midwest where she managed corporate funding and hosted a business program. She holds a BS from Western Illinois University and a MA from University of Illinois. Julie is married to Daryl Heller, a Spectrum Executive, and resides in Greenville, SC.
To contact Julie, please email her at Heller@jngi.org or call 828-449-1072
Carol joined JNGI in January of 2008 and she serves as Graphic Artist and Executive Assistant. She is responsible for an array of projects which support all JNGI processes including Foundations of Excellence® Self Study, Gateways to Completion® and Retention Performance Management®.
Her duties also include a variety of planning and support for all annual JNGI conferences, events and exhibiting opportunities.
Carol holds an AAB in Advertising from Youngstown State University.
To contact Carol, please email her at email@example.com
or call 828-394-2363.
Dr. Koch has been with JNGI since 2010. From 1998-2010, Dr. Koch held a variety of student persistence and completion-related roles at Purdue University including serving as the founding director of the nationally acclaimed Department of Student Access, Transition, and Success Programs. During his tenure at Purdue, the University increased first-to-second year retention rates by over 8 percentage points and six-year graduation rates by more than 6 percentage points. Before working at Purdue, Dr. Koch served as the Director of Freshman Advancement and Associate Dean at Hofstra University, and he also served as Assistant to the Dean of Summer College at the University of Richmond.
Dr. Koch holds a BA in history and German and an MA in European history from the University of Richmond, an MA in higher education from the University of South Carolina, and a PhD in American Studies from Purdue University. His research interests include student success, the role of colleges and universities in shaping democracy and culture in the United States, and the role of sport in U.S. culture and society.
During his twenty-year career, Koch has garnered substantive experience with undergraduate education administration, strategic planning, fund raising, reaffirmation of accreditation, and enrollment management. His work includes extensive grant writing and fund raising with support coming from sources such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Coca Cola, Lilly Endowment, Inc., Lumina Foundation for Education, the National Science Foundation, and Target Corporation. To date, Dr. Koch’s fund raising and grant totals exceed $11 million.
Dr. Koch is the author of an array of publications pertaining to student success, including the second, third, and fourth editions of The First-Year Experience in American Higher Education: An Annotated Bibliography, published by the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience. He has served on several boards and commissions, including the Indiana College Access and Success Network; the Directorate Board for the American College Personnel Association Commission on Admissions, Orientation, and the First-Year Experience; the Military Family Research Institute; the Higher Learning Commission’s Think Tank on Persistence and Completion; the National Advisory Board for the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition; and the editorial review board of the Journal of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.
Dr. Koch lives with his wife, Dr. Sara Stein Koch, and their six children in Mills River, North Carolina. In their spare time, he and his wife enjoy hiking with their children; attending their children’s track, soccer and lacrosse events; gardening; and reading.
To contact Drew, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-877-3549.
Sara Stein Koch is an Institute Fellow and Senior Associate for Institutional Support with the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. She has spent the past three decades in administration, training, coaching, facilitation, and teaching in higher education.
Her current work with the Institute involves advising institutions on the Foundations of Excellence First-Year, Transfer, and Implement, Gateways to Completion, and Retention Performance Management processes. She also coordinates the curriculum for the Annual Gateway Course Experience Conference. Sara was involved in the development of the Gateways to Completion process, development and administration of the two year National Survey on Student Success practices, and strategic planning for the Institute.
Prior to joining the Institute, Sara served as the Director of Undergraduate Programs for the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University. Her role included the administration and operation of the undergraduate business school program of 2700+ undergraduate students. Her oversight included the areas of curriculum administration, Academic Advising, Career Services, Recruitment, and the development and operation of the Undergraduate Management Communication Center. At the heart of the Center was its outreach and curricular connections through the development of programs and coaching for undergraduate students to improve their professional development and communication skills.
Sara also served as a Senior Consultant with Organization and Career Development in Human Resources at Purdue University. Her consulting focused on the process of talent development and retention, managing change, performance management, and strategic planning design. Through her career Sara has been certified as a SHRM Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR); Harvard Mutual Gains Negotiator, Linkage Inc. Human Resource consultant, Blessing White™ facilitator, Zenger Miller™ facilitator, and Targeted Selection™ administrator.
Sara has also developed and taught undergraduate courses on Conference Leadership and Human Resource Issues and Critical Thinking for the School of Technology at Purdue University. In addition, she appeared frequently to guest lecture classes on teamwork, interviewing, conflict and communication in Civil Engineering, Management, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Her early career work in student affairs took her from the University of South Carolina to Hamilton College and Pratt Institute.
She earned her BS in Business Administration at Winthrop College, Master’s in Education from the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.
Sara and her husband Drew have six children, Andrejs, Maks, Hunter, Hudson, Grayson, and Lauren. Though she was born and raised in New York, she has lived in Florida, Tokyo, New York City, Indiana and she now resides in the Asheville area of North Carolina.
Victoria McGillin, Ph.D. has consulted independently on higher education collaboration since her retirement as Provost and Professor of Psychology at Otterbein University. She has also served as a Senior Advisor on the Gateways to Completion process with the John N. Gardner Institute. Vicki led curricular, programmatic and business collaboration initiatives for the 52 member institutions of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, where she helped found the Ohio Project Kaleidoscope (AAC&U) Regional organization, and the Ohio/Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia Higher Education Recruiting Consortium (HERC) as well as state-wide planning groups focusing on collaborative professional development and course sharing. Prior to her leadership role at Otterbein, Dr. McGillin served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Linfield College (OR) and Associate Provost at Texas Woman’s University.
Vicki began her academic career as an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut before moving to Clark University (MA) where she subsequently served as Associate Dean of the College. Stimulated by her first, First Year Experience Conference, she initiated a First Year Seminar program at Clark organized around student engagement with primary research. Subsequently, at Wheaton College (MA), Vicki served as Dean and Assistant Provost. The First Year Advising Teams she created received national recognition, both from the National Academic Advising Association and as one of the primary sources for high levels of student engagement and retention at this DEEP school (George Kuh and associates). She has consulted with over thirty colleges and universities on advising, resilience, curriculum and faculty development and has served on over a half-dozen higher education boards or executive committees, including multiple positions on the National Academic Advising Association Board of Directors.
As an academic leader, Vicki focused on the career-span professional development of academics, student academic resilience, strategic planning and budgeting, authentic learning outcomes assessment, the redesign of teaching/learning spaces and on evidence-based curricular reform. Vicki led or co-led strategic enrollment management leadership teams at three institutions, promoting intra-institutional collaboration to enhance admissions/retention of students. She has published or presented over 100 papers on these topics. She has consulted/advised national and regional organizations on leadership development and the development of academic and business collaborations/consortia including the Project Kaleidoscope (AAC&U) STEM Senior Leadership Institute, the New England Resource Center for Higher Education, National Academic Advising Association Summer Institute and Assessment Institutes, and the Council of Independent Colleges Chairs Institute.
Dr. McGillin earned her B.S. and M.S. in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University.
To contact Vicki, please email her at email@example.com
Robert is a seasoned network and IT security professional. From 1998-2002 he served as the Microsoft Servers administrator for the Selee Corporation in Hendersonville, NC, and from 2003-2010 he worked for Brevard College in Brevard, NC, where he most recently served as Network Manager.
He has been a member of several technology-related professional associations ranging from InfraGard to numerous regional groups such as the Asheville Networking Professionals Group, the Western North Carolina Association of Information Technology Professionals, the Western North Carolina Linux Users Group, and the WCI Information Technology Professional group.
Robert has presented on an array of IT topics to groups as varied as the Appalachian College Association Information Technology Directors and linux user groups.
Robert holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.S. in Information Assurance from Norwich University.
To contact Rob, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 828-449-8050.
Angela Whiteside serves as Vice President of Finance, Human Resources and Events and has been with the Institute since 2001. She oversees the finances, prepares and monitors the budget, and collaborates with the finance committee. Ms. Whiteside is responsible for receivables and disbursements as well as presiding over the annual independent audit each year. She also works with management to prepare all contractual agreements for participating institutions and provides financial support on incoming grants. She is directly responsible for the overall administration, coordination and evaluation for all human resource functions. In addition, her responsibilities include strategic management and execution of all the Institute’s conferences and special events and board meetings, in which she is Secretary and Treasurer. Angela directly supervises multiple employees at the Institute. She holds a BS in Business Administration from Gardner Webb University and is a MBA from University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is married to Lewis Whiteside, a BMW employee and has two children. Angela has lived in North Carolina since she was eight.
To contact Angela, please email her at email@example.com or call her at 828-449-8053.