Higher Education Center Selects UH to Participate in National Project on Excellence

Provost Paula Myrick Short announced today that the University of Houston recently was selected by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education to participate in a national higher education project known as “Foundations of Excellence®.” 

Throughout 2013-2014 academic year, University of Houston faculty, staff and students will collaborate with the Gardner Institute using a model of excellence for the first college year to develop and refine the University’s overall approach to educating first-year students.  

Research has long indicated that the successful integration of new students into college greatly increases the likelihood of their academic success.  As a result, institutions of higher education place particular emphasis on creating a first-year experience that establishes a solid foundation supportive of success in college and beyond degree attainment. 

Since February 2003, the Foundations of Excellence project has involved more than 300 two- and four-year colleges and universities across the country in developing the standards (“Foundational Dimensions®”) that constitute a model first year.

Working with both the Gardner Institute and educational survey partner, Educational Benchmarking, Inc., member institutions will measure their effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising and teaching new students. They will then be able to make programmatic improvements that will increase student learning, success and persistence.

In describing the importance of this project, John N. Gardner, president of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education in Brevard, N.C., said, “While much is known about how a campus can improve new student learning and retention, this information has never been synthesized or translated into aspirational standards that are reflective of best practice. The absence of clear standards has powerful educational and financial consequences. This project brings together a number of highly credible researchers, reformers and practitioners who are creating the blueprint that for too long has been missing.” Betsy Barefoot, vice president and senior scholar, said the standards are not only aspirational, but they can also be used to measure an institution’s current level of excellence in its approach to the first year.

Provost Short stated, “Our selection and the work that we will do as a part of the Foundations of Excellence initiative will enable UH to plan and implement a cutting edge first year experience program based on research, campus engagement in the process, and specific outcome measures to promote student success.” 

Additional information about the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and this project can be found at JNGI.org.