The Power to Transform Higher Education Through Excellence in Academic Advising

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising has joined with the Gardner Institute to advance student learning, success, persistence, retention, and degree completion through a comprehensive, standards-based strategic planning process to promote excellence in academic advising.

This partnership brings together the national and global academic advising expertise of NACADA with the Gardner Institute's 18 years of experience in guiding institutions through evidence-based decision-making, planning, and implementation to effect positive change in the student experience.

Excellence in Academic Advising Difference

There are scores of vendors that offer technology and other solutions for academic advising. These solutions, while often good, may do little to change the actual processes, practices, and culture associated with academic advising  at a college or university—at least in any intentional way.  The Excellence in Academic Advising initiative addresses these gaps by engaging institutions in a holistic and systemic review of academic advising from a teaching and learning perspective, with support and guidance from experts in the field and experts in educational and organizational change. The evidence-based decisions and action plans that emerge from this focused and intentional review not only make this initiative different from others, but also more sustainable for institutions committed to supporting student success in college. 

NACADA and the Gardner Institute—along with a cohort of charter institutions—will refine, validate, and establish the aspirational standards for colleges and universities to evaluate and improve academic advising. These standards, or "Conditions of Excellence in Academic Advising," acknowledge the role of academic advising in promoting student learning, success, and completion as well as the complexity of higher education and organizational change. Thus, this process invites institutions to examine academic advising through multiple institutional lenses.

Improving Teaching, Learning, Equity, and Success in Gateway Courses

Gateway courses—college credit–bearing and/or developmental education graduate experience in the United States. As long as there have been U.S. colleges and universities, there have been entry courses that pose difficulties for students—courses that have served more as weeding-out rather than gearing-up experiences for undergraduates. Perhaps the gateway-course weed-out function was more appropriate in the days when a college or university credential was reserved for a privileged few, or even during the era when a high school credential was more than adequate preparation for work and life in a democratic republic. But we no longer live in those times.






Gardner Institute Announces Senior Leadership Actions

October 12, 2017

Gardner Institute Announces Senior Leadership Actions

Brevard, NC - The Board of Directors of the non-profit higher education organization, the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, has announced two leadership change actions of great significance for the long-term future of the organization. Having just completed, at John Gardner's request, a thoughtful three-year process of planning for leadership succession to insure the organization's continuing viability, growth, dynamic new directions, and sustainability, the Board has determined that effective October 1, 2017, its co-founder and president, John N. Gardner, will become Chair and Chief Executive Officer, and its Chief Operating Officer, Andrew K. "Drew" Koch, will become President and Chief Operating Officer.

The Institute is a prominent and trusted advisor to colleges and universities on a variety of successful approaches to improve student learning, retention, completion and success. Founded by Gardner and his wife, Betsy O. Barefoot, in 1999, the Institute is an outgrowth of Gardner and Barefoot's pioneering work in establishing the "first-year experience" movement. The year 2017 is Gardner's fiftieth in service to the global higher education community.

Koch joined the senior staff of the Gardner Institute in 2010 after a long record of student success leadership efforts at Purdue University. Since 2010, he has held multiple positions of senior leadership in the Institute and has led the development of multiple new initiatives, most notably to improve learning and reduce student failure rates in "gateway courses." Koch's work has also focused on the use of analytics in student success strategic planning efforts.

"It is an honor and pleasure to be able to continue to serve the Gardner Institute in this new role," commented Koch. "I have been privileged to work with John, Betsy, and the broader Gardner Institute team to advance the Institute's mission over the past seven years. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with them, as well as the Institute's Board of Directors, as we work to expand the organization's work with the nation's diverse higher education institutions and the twenty-first century learners they serve."

"I have worked with both Drew Koch and John Gardner for decades," commented Scott Evenbeck, President of the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College and member of the Gardner Institute's Board of Directors. "Drew's strong advocacy for historically underrepresented and underserved students, and his strengths both in articulating policy issues and programmatic responses to enhancing student success have been a tremendous asset to the Gardner Institute. He and John have made, and will continue to make, a wonderful team."

"The Board of Directors believes the Institute is now even more securely positioned for long-term stability of visionary leadership by appointing this team of two most senior organizational leaders," added Jillian Kinzie, Associate Director, Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and Gardner Institute Board of Directors member. "This leadership change will help insure that efforts to advance student success are grounded in the foundational work that the Institute is known for and responsive to contemporary developments in higher education."

"These actions are a vital and necessary move for an complex organization that is steadily scaling its impact on higher education student success," added Gardner Institute Board member Louis Albert, who is currently Professor of Practice at Arizona State University and recently retired from his position as President of Pima Community College's West Campus. "The Board could not be happier about and more supportive of this dynamic, future-focused team."


Julie Heller  

Louis Albert

Scott Evenbeck

John Gardner

Jillian Kinzie

Drew Koch  

About the Gardner Institute

The Gardner Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, educators, and other entities to create and implement evidence-based, culture changing strategic plans for improving outcomes associated with teaching, learning, retention, and completion. Through its efforts the Institute strives to advance higher education's larger goal of achieving equity and social justice. Specific focus is given to helping institutions develop and implement strategic action plans for first-year, second-year and/or transfer student success; improving teaching, learning and success in gateway courses; and conducting professional development focused on advancing educational excellence. For more information, visit





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