Posts in News
National Student Transfer Week

The Gardner Institute would like to recognize all the institutions who have demonstrated a strong commitment to transfer students through completing the Foundations in Excellence - Transfer self-study. Transfer students account for over 60% of students who receive baccalaureate degrees.

Congratulations to these two-year institutions:

•      Ashland Community and Technical College

•       Big Sandy Community and Technical College

•       Bluegrass Community and Technical College

•       Bossier Parish Community College

•       Columbus State Community College

•       Elizabethtown Community College

•       Gateway Community and Technical College

•       Hazard Community and Technical College

•       Henderson Community College

•       Hopkinsville Community College

•       Jefferson Community and Technical College

•       Kirkwood Community College

•       Lone Star College-Montgomery

•       Lone Star College-North Harris

•       Madisonville Community College

•       Malcom X College

•       Massachusetts Bay Community College

•       Maysville Community and Technical College

•       Mercer County Community College

•       Minnesota State Community and Technical College

•       NorthWest Arkansas Community College

•       Olive Harvey College

•       Owensboro Community and Technical College

•       Palo Alto College

•       San Antonio College

•       Somerset Community College

•       Southcentral KY Community and Technical College

•       Southeast KY Community and Technical College

•       St. Cloud Technical & Community College

•       Truman College

•       Tulsa Community College

•       Waubonsee Community College

•       Waycross College (Now South Georgia College)

•       West Kentucky Community and Technical College

And these four-year institutions:

•       American Public University System

•       Arizona State University

•       CUNY Brooklyn College

•       CUNY Lehman College

•       CUNY Queens College

•       East Carolina University

•       Georgia Gwinnett College

•       Illinois State University

•       Indiana State University

•       IUPUI

•       Kean University

•       Kennesaw State University

•       Langston University

•       Lourdes College

•       Northeastern State University

•       Northwood University

•       Oklahoma State University-Tulsa

•       Rogers State University

•       Shenandoah University

•       SUNY –Oswego

•       SUNY –College at Brockport

•       Texas A & M University-San Antonio

•       University of Central Florida

•       University of Houston-Clear Lake

•       University of Main-Fort Kent

•       University of Northern Iowa

•       University of Southern Maine

•       University of Texas Brownsville

•       University of Tulsa

NACADA and Gardner Institute announce charter cohort of 12 institutions for Excellence in Academic Advising.

NACADA and Gardner Institute announce charter cohort of 12 institutions for Excellence in Academic Advising.

Monday, Oct 1, 2018, at the NACADA Annual Conference Dr. Charlie Nutt, executive director, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising announced the charter institutions for Excellence in Academic Advising (EAA). EAA is an evidence-based, redesign process that helps institutions create and implement a comprehensive strategic plan for academic advising. The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (Gardner Institute) partnered with NACADA to create the EAA process to change and affirm the role and influence of academic advising in higher education.

The twelve institutions, selected from a large pool of applicants with diverse advising structures, represent a diverse range of institution types. Schools within the cohort include 2-year and 4-year institutions, small private liberal-arts colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as large, private, online, regional and state institutions, public and private research universities.

The charter cohort include:

•       American Public University System (APUS)

•       Claflin University

•       College of the Mainland

•       Florida International University

•       Frostburg State University

•       Johns Hopkins University

•       State University of New York at New Paltz

•       University of Hawai’i at Manoa

•       University of Southern Maine

•       University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire

•       Wheaton College Massachusetts

•       Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

The two‐year program kicked off at the NACADA annual meeting in Phoenix this week. The inaugural cohort will be guided through evidence‐based decision making, planning, and an implementation process to improve their academic advising efforts. They will engage in an institution‐wide initiative using NACADA and the Gardner Institute’s nine “Conditions of Excellence in Academic Advising.” These standards acknowledge the role of academic advising in promoting student learning, success, and completion as well as the complexity of higher education and organizational change. Excellence in Academic Advising Fellows will support the development of a set of evidence‐based institutional recommendations for change, as well as provide support for plan implementation.

“Academic advising is a key component of student success, persistence, and degree completion on many campuses,” said Charlie Nutt, NACADA executive director. “By examining advising through multiple lenses and implementing evidence‐based recommendations, institutions can ensure alignment with priorities for student success.”

About this significant collaborative effort, John Gardner, Gardner Institute chair and chief executive officer, noted that, “The launch of the Excellence in Academic Advising initiative is the most important development for improving the quality of academic advising and raising its overall level of priority on US campuses since the establishment 39 years ago of the National Academic Advising Association.”

Drew Koch, Gardner Institute president and chief operating officer added, “We believe the combination of analytics, sage and trusted external guidance, and wise internal institutional knowledge that we are building into the EAA model will yield measurable improvement in institutional outcomes related to academic advising – especially for our nation’s most historically underserved and underrepresented students. There are important completion agenda and equity imperative considerations at work here. We are delighted to be part of this historic endeavor.”

NACADA is a global association of professional advisors, counselors, faculty members, and administrators working to enhance the educational development of students in higher education through research, professional development, and leadership. The Gardner Institute is a non‐profit organization dedicated to partnering with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, educators, and other entities to increase institutional responsibility for improving outcomes associated with teaching, learning, retention, and completion.

For more information, contact

American Historical Society Receives Grant to Redesign Introductory History Courses

From the American Historical Society 9/18/2018

The American Historical Association (AHA) has received a $1.65 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to lead “History Gateways,” an evaluation and substantial revision of introductory college-level history courses to better serve students from all backgrounds and align more effectively with the future needs of a complex society. 

Introductory history courses, like those in chemistry, math, English, biology, and psychology, unfortunately are directly linked with a significant proportion of attrition among “first generation” college students. According to recent research faculty development can be more effective than remedial courses as a pathway to student success. The AHA, in collaboration with education researchers and faculty professional development specialists at the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (Gardner Institute), will work with history faculty to rethink what it means to be “introduced” to history at the post-secondary level, and to implement necessary curricular change.

Drawing on the successful AHA’s Tuning project and the Gardner Institute’s successful Gateways to Completion (G2C) program this initiative will work closely with eleven 2-year and 4-year institutions in Chicago, Houston, and New York. History Gateways will launch in January of 2019 and will continue until December of 2022.

Institutional partners include:

New York Metro Area

St. Francis College

Bergen Community College

Kean University


Houston Community College

University of Houston

University of Houston Downtown

Texas Southern University



Roosevelt University

Waubonsee Community College

University of Illinois at Chicago

Purdue University Northwest

The American Historical Association is the largest professional organization serving historians in all fields and all professions. Founded in 1884, the AHA has become a trusted voice for history education, the professional work of historians, and the critical role of historical thinking in public life.

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, educators, and other entities to increase institutional responsibility for improving outcomes associated with teaching, learning, retention, and completion. It is dedicated to advancing higher education’s larger goal of achieving equity and social justice.

Summer Reading. Institute Style
This summer we asked the staff and fellows of the Gardner Institute to tell us what they were reading. We had a small peek into their bookshelves and compiled a list of favorites. The list runs the gamut from insightful books and articles about teaching, learning, and the current political climate, to fascinating biographies, gardening books, and escapist novels! We anticipated a diverse list of books which we would immediately want to add to our own bookshelf They did not disappoint.

This summer we asked the staff and fellows of the Gardner Institute to tell us what they were reading. We had a small peek into their bookshelves and compiled a list of favorites. The list runs the gamut from insightful books and articles about teaching, learning, and the current political climate, to fascinating biographies, gardening books, and escapist novels! We anticipated a diverse list of books which we would immediately want to add to our own bookshelf They did not disappoint.

The New York Times, The Atlantic and Longmire Mysteries

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John Gardner 

Gardner Institute

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My summer reading (in between classical music concerts at the Brevard Music Center with my wife Dr. Betsy Barefoot) consists of:

  1. Daily devouring of The New York Times

  2. The latest issue of The Atlantic Magazine

  3. Working my way through the entire series of the Longmire Mysteries 13 volumes by Craig Johnson!


Slavery in Small Things Slavery and Modern Cultural Habits, by James Walvin


Drew Koch

Gardner Institute


In his book, Slavery in Small Things: Slavery and Modern Cultural Habits, James Walvin chronicles how London, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, and other 18th and 19th century British cities thrived on slave commerce. This commerce took many forms. It was found in the transportation of enslaved Africans to the Americas. It was also evident in the distribution of slave-produced goods such as tobacco, sugar, cocoa, coffee, tea, and mahogany. And it manifested itself in creation of whole industries that were tightly connected to slave-produced goods such as porcelain (for sugar bowls and tea sets), pipes (for tobacco), coffee houses, and exquisite furnishings (made from mahogany). In short, the British Isles and European mainland were inextricably linked with slavery. However, unlike the American continent, where, as Walvin notes, “the modern American state came into being in 1787 arguing about slavery” (Walvin, 2017, p. 3), slavery by and large remained out of sight in Britain and Europe, even if it “had become part of the warp and weft of British commercial and social life” (p. 4).  The book has been a fascinating read. It has me thinking about how, in the contemporary era, the legacy of slavery is still manifesting itself in many “small things” that add up in big ways in the United States.  In fact, I am drawing on these exact thoughts to help frame a chapter in a forthcoming book on gateway courses – since, sadly, as I’ve shown in previous scholarship, race is one of the most significant factors in predicting who does or does not succeed in gateway courses in college.


Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students,  by Zaretta Hammond

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Isis Artze

Florida International University


This summer, I'm reading Zaretta Hammond's Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. In it, she describes a four-part framework for teaching in culturally responsive ways, one that combines the research on cognition with that on culture and inclusion, and - importantly - offers practical guidance for those of us wanting to engage in this critical work. Hammond argues convincingly that culturally responsive teaching is “one of our most powerful tools for helping students find their way out of the [achievement] gap.” The four categories of the Ready for Rigor Framework are awareness, learning partnerships, information processing, and community of learners. I've been meaning to read it for quite some time now, so I signed up to facilitate a faculty book group this summer and had the pleasure of discussing it with extremely thoughtful faculty colleagues, mostly from STEM fields. Since Hammond’s examples and anecdotes are from the K-12 sector, some of our discussions focused on identifying what’s relevant to our contexts and how we might adapt some of the strategies. One of the features I most appreciate about Hammond’s book is her explicitness, as I find that some authors are so careful with their language when discussing matters of race and inclusion that their insights become muddled. Here’s an example from the awareness category of her framework, one that I consider the key element of culturally responsive teaching: “Every culturally responsive teacher develops a socio-political consciousness, an understanding that we live in a racialized society that gives us unearned privilege to some while others experience unearned disadvantage because of race, gender, class, or language.” 


Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World – and Why Things are Always Better Than You Think, by Hans Rosling

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Rob Rodier

Gardner Institute


Rosling talks about using data and visualizations based on facts from the World Bank and United Nations and describes ways to use a “fact-based framework” to view and reason about the world. Overall, it is a story about how the world is getting better despite what you may always hear or the “negativity instinct.” Hans discusses this negativity instinct and 9 more instincts in relation to modern data that supports the instincts (or not).


Educated,  by Tara Westover

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Rebecca Campbell 

Northern Arizona University


I'm reading Tara Westover’s Educated.  I tend not to risk reading anything that’s fiction unless it’s recommended or I already am familiar with the author.  Educated was highly recommended by colleagues and was the NY Time’s May book club choice.  So, as the dust has literally and figuratively settled after my very hectic June (moved, got married, taught 2 courses, blah, blah, blah), I was being really picky about what to choose for my precious quiet time.  Fiction is a treat and I maxed out on professional development books about pedagogy last Spring.  I am also transitioning to the role of part-time associate dean in our College of Education right now.  So, the story of an individual who never stepped foot in a classroom was particularly intriguing.  With all of the recent protests and changes to public education, the idea of reading about someone who was denied a K-12 formal education really caught my attention.  I’m only a short-ways in but the book is great thus far!


IQ, by Joe Ide

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Peter Felton

Elon University


IQ is a smart and quirky detective novel, the first by author Joe Ide. The main character, Isaiah Quintabe (aka IQ), is a brilliant orphan who is trying to make a life for himself in a crime-soaked part of Long Beach, California. IQ is a charming but imperfect protagonist -- reviewers often compare him to Sherlock Holmes. However, IQ lives in a very different world than Sherlock, and in many ways, IQ is a more likable person than that other super smart detective. At the start of the book, IQ is trying to mind his own business and make his corner of the world a somewhat better place, although he has some unresolved issues from his past that keeps, him up at night. The story moves quickly, and the writing is compelling -- funny and profane. The characters and the story are memorable. This is not the most profound book you’ll read this summer, but it might be the most enjoyable.


Calypso, by David Sedaris

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Betsy Barefoot

Gardner Institute


“Calypso” by David Sedaris.  Anyone who has read Sedaris knows that occasionally he says outrageous, scatological things, but if a reader can get over that, overall this book is really sweet – it’s about his aging father, his sister who committed suicide, his other sisters who are famous in their own right and his partner Hugh.  I loved it – it’s a story about a family – a strange family but one in which there is a lot of love. 


Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

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Bryan Dewsbury

University of Rhode Island


In this multi-generational story, Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi documents the lived experiences of the offspring of two half-sisters. One sister married a village 'big man' in the Ashanti kingdom, was captured and sold into the Transatlantic slave trade, and the other married a British officer and lived in the slave castle in Cape Coast, Ghana. Each chapter is a vivid description of life in either 18th century Ghana or generations of slavery, through reconstruction in America. Though this is a work of fiction, each generational depiction is factually accurate, both in her construction of the social contexts, and the specific ways in which social inequities were handed down to subsequent generations. This unintentional handing down of disadvantage is what makes this work so powerful. By the end, one certainly senses that engaging in this writing may have been cathartic for the author. Certainly, her work shines a new light on how one might think of 'generations of blackness', not just in America or Africa, but anywhere chattel slavery caused its spread and permanence.


Flat Broke With Two Goats, a Memoir by Jennifer McCana

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Sara Stein Koch

Gardner Institute


Flat Broke With Two Goats is the memoir of a local (Asheville area) well-educated woman and her life of bad financial decisions. What I liked about the book was both its honesty and how it left the reader slapping her head saying “really?!”. For any Asheville or Brevard native, there are numerous references to places that you’ll recognize.


The Road from Coorain, by Jill Ker Conway

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Catherine Andersen

University of Baltimore


I just finished reading The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway the first woman to serve as Smiths College President.  I recall that Roberta told me she was at her recent college reunion. 

Jill died this June, and I was inspired to learn more about her after reading her obituary. The Road from Coorain is a beautifully written memoir of growing up in the wilds of Australia.  I was touched by her story and the influences on her by her parents -especially her mother who in her own way was a woman well ahead of her time but limited by circumstances. 

Jill -even as a child- navigated complicated family dynamics and managed to emerge as a brilliant scholar, leader, and humanitarian.  

Loved this book and wish, as Roberta did, I  could have met this wonderful person.


Eunice, the Kennedy who Changed the World, by Eileen McNamara

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Katie Locke

Gardner Institute


I recently heard an interview with Maria Shriver, Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s daughter and it drove me to want to learn more about her mother. I read Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World. While Eunice’s brothers were groomed to be politicians and leaders of the free world, Eunice, smart and Stanford educated created her own opportunities. She was driven by a desire for equality, passionate about advocating for individuals with disabilities, and unwilling to be hampered by familial or societal views of the role of women in the political stage.  Eunice started the Special Olympics, McNamara illustrates her impact is far-reaching and more impactful than any of her siblings.

Eileen McNamara’s biography is both intimate, and comprehensive. She portrays Eunice as a mother, a devoted Catholic, and the formidable woman whose impact is far-reaching.  A great read and a book to share with your daughters.


Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning, by James M. Lang

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Vicki McGillin

Gardner Institute


When looking for readings that offer accessible, small and impactful approaches that are based in the cognitive sciences, this is one of the most frequently recommended books today.  While not a learning scientist (his discipline is English), Lang has offered a very easy to read compilation of learning activities that can be easily introduced in the classroom.  His approach to curricular transformation is an evolutionary one (one small change at a time that can cumulatively lead to meaningful outcomes). Not all curricular changes have to be BIG to achieve significant results. He backs his approaches with a lay understanding of the science and the pedagogy.  His chapters cover both learning factual information and the development of cognitive skills (reading, writing, problem-solving), as well as developing a mastery orientation.  Highly recommended.   I couldn't stop at just one so I am also recommending 84K by Claire North

84K,  by Claire North

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It is hard to recommend such a dark, dystopian novel for summer reading, but perhaps, it takes a bright summers’ day to work through Claire North’s vision of a not distant future England, where every life has a monetary value and crimes are punished by fines according to the value of the person and the nature of the offense.  You enter this world through the life of a man (sometimes) called Theo Miller, who has spent his entire adult life creating the most inoffensive “jedermann” persona possible.  His careful and joyless balancing act is disrupted when he learns that he may have fathered a child, now a teenager lost in the system.  Crossing several timelines, this novel explores the uncovering of the man under the persona, as he seeks the one thing that may give meaning to his life. North's vision of this near future, wholly owned by the Company, rings uncomfortably close to some contemporary currents.


Taming Wildflowers, by Miriam Goldberger

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Carol Huhn

Gardner Institute


This book is a wonderful resource for learning more about the importance and benefits of incorporating native plants into your landscape.  Despite its small size, it is rich with detail regardless of the region in which you live. It’s a “keeper” in my gardener’s library!


All books are available online or from your favorite local independent bookseller.