Overview of Key
The Foundations of
Excellence process enables each campus to take a sustained, focused
look at the first year to determine what elements are appropriate and
working well and what needs to be changed.
The process is not
mandatory for any institution.
The engine of the
Foundations of Excellence process is the Foundations of Excellence
task force – a group that has broad representation from across campus.
The process is
enhanced by an advanced technological system (FoEcus).
The work of the task
force begins with a campus audit of the first year (the “Current
Practices Inventory”), continues with a 9 – 12 month process of
evaluation using the Foundations of Excellence model and related
performance indicators, and culminates in the development of an
“Action Plan” for campus improvement.
Campus task forces use
both qualitative and quantitative evidence to support their judgments
of campus achievement.
One form of
quantitative evidence will be the results of the Foundations of
Excellence first-year student survey and faculty/staff survey
administered by Educational Benchmarking, Inc.
Excellence model is the intellectual framework for the process
Model is comprised of
nine standards of excellence, termed “Foundational Dimensions®.”
Dimensions are aspirational, rather than minimum, standards.
constituted the original model developed in February of 2003 by the
Policy Center on the First Year of College and research partners at
Penn State University and Campus Compact. In the spring of 2003, 219
four-year public and private colleges and universities reviewed and
vetted the model and expanded it to the current version comprised of
nine Dimensions. In the spring of 2005, 81 two-year colleges reacted
to the nine Dimensions and collectively developed a version that is
appropriate and relevant to two-year higher education.
In 2003-2004, the
model was pilot tested by 24 four-year colleges and universities as a
method of assessing and improving the first year. A pilot test with 10
two-year campuses began in the summer of 2005.
The Foundations of
Excellence initiative focuses on the institution and its policies,
practices and programs rather than on student-level input
characteristics or learning outcomes. Learning outcomes data can be used
as evidence to support achievement of the Dimensions.
The Foundations of Excellence
initiative expands the conversation on student retention and focuses
directly on the quality of the first year. Retention is considered a
probable outcome of institutional excellence.
Colleges and universities accredited by
the Higher Learning Commission are able to link the Foundations of
Excellence initiative with reaffirmation of accreditation in a
customized self-study focused on the first year.
This project was developed and piloted
with the support of The Atlantic Philanthropies and Lumina Foundation
Comments and questions about this page can be directed to
Foundations of Excellence, HH 235, Salisbury, MD 21801 410-543-6020
Copyright © 2005