Jackson State University has been selected to participate in the 2013-2014 national cohort for the Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year Self-Study (FoE). The university was one of 16 selected nationwide for the project designed to enhance new student learning, engagement and retention.
The study is a systematic appraisal process based on a model developed by the John N. Gardner Institute of Excellence in Undergraduate Education, a national leader in efforts to improve undergraduate learning and retention at institutional, regional and national levels.
“We’re excited about our selection,” said Dr. Evelyn J. Leggette, dean of Undergraduate Studies. “This is a way to assess strengths and weaknesses of our first year of college using a nationally vetted model.”
Leggette said the yearlong self-study will engage campus participants in debate, research, analysis and improvement planning for the first year.
The study will measure JSU’s effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising and teaching new students. A university-wide committee has been established, and will use a model based on nine aspirational principles of excellence, termed Foundational Dimensions.
The dimensions are based on philosophy, organization, learning, faculty, transitions, students, diversity, roles, purposes and improvement. The dimensions are the framework of the aspirational model and provide general guidelines for designing an optimum first-year experience for students.
Leggette said JSU’s broad-based university committee is inclusive of faculty and staff.
“As we work toward a higher purpose, higher expectations and higher outcomes, the entire university community is asked to engage in the Foundations of Excellence process, which will benefit the university in improved programs, persistence, retention and graduation rates,” said JSU Provost James C. Renick.
“This is a comprehensive project to gather and interpret evidence and use it to reach conclusions about JSU’s current achievement of the dimensions,” Renick said. “The study also will develop specific recommendations to improve the university’s approach to the first college year.”
JSU applied for the program. Campuses were selected based upon their commitment to first-year students as evidenced in a comprehensive application and validated through interviews with senior campus officials.
The self-study process involves an inventory of current university policies and assessments, surveys to measure faculty, staff and new student perceptions, a final report, a report card and implementation plan.