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Press Releases

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

AASCU Selects SU for 'Re-Imagining the First Year of College' Project

Graduates in front of Holloway Hall

AASCU logoSALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University has announced its selection by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to participate in the three-year “Re-Imagining the First Year of College” (RFY) project, a sweeping initiative aimed at transforming the first year of college to enhance students’ success in their undergraduate years and in the 21st-century workplace.

Salisbury is the only institution in Maryland selected for this initiative and one of only 44 nationally.

“RFY is a natural fit for Salisbury University, said SU Provost Diane Allen. “We already had begun a comprehensive examination and reworking of our general education requirements which are a vital part of the first year curriculum. The University also recently established an Office for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, and appointed the first director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities. Our Honors Program is expanding in scope to an Honors College. With the anticipated opening of the Guerrieri Academic Commons this fall, bringing several academic services under one roof, the synergy and collaboration expected will certainly impact our first-year students.

“This AASCU program encourages SU to partner with other excellent comprehensive universities nationally, and will help our campus pull together and connect all the things we’re doing and want to do academically. Salisbury has the highest four-year graduation rate of all comprehensives in the University System of Maryland. The goal of RFY is student success, and we think this innovative program will reenergize planning and execution of our undergraduate teaching and learning experience.”

The first year of college has emerged as the critical barrier to student success, the point at which undergraduate institutions experience the greatest loss of students, according to AASCU. The objective of the RFY project is to help participants – and ultimately the broader AASCU membership of 420 state colleges and universities – implement changes that enhance the first-year student experience and increase student retention and graduation rates, particularly among historically underserved populations.

As part of AASCU’s RFY project, SU will select and implement proven, evidence-based strategies that focus on four core areas to help first-year students succeed: institutional intentionality, curriculum, faculty and staff roles, and student roles.

SU also will participate in a learning community with the 43 other selected state colleges and universities. This community will enable RFY participants to attend national conferences and educational webinars, receive one-on-one mentoring, access online tools and resources, and share ideas, successful strategies and lessons learned.

“We are pleased that these AASCU institutions will commit their enormous talent and knowledge to the success of this initiative, which I believe will have a profound effect on undergraduate education in the 21st century,” said George Mehaffy, vice president for academic leadership and change at AASCU. “The state colleges and universities we selected for RFY represent a broad swath of the institutional landscape and exhibit strong leadership and other qualities that are conducive to effecting broad-scale and sustainable change.”

AASCU will kick off the RFY initiative with academic leaders, including Allen, attending the association’s 2016 Academic Affairs Winter Meeting in Austin, TX, from February 4-6. RFY is funded by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USA Funds.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at

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