Monday, April 17, 2006
Foundations of Excellence committee presents update
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
While the final recommendations won’t be presented until May, the Foundations of Excellence Council at Oakland University already has pinpointed areas where OU has made great strides in improving the first-year experience and where there is opportunity for growth. The committee chairs presented their recommendations during a Foundations of Excellence update April 13 in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms.
Foundations of Excellence is a self-assessment in the areas of philosophy, organization, faculty, learning, transitions, diversity, roles, assessment and serving all students to help OU develop an action plan to improve the first college year for students and lead to greater success and retention rates.
More than 70 OU faculty and staff members have devoted their time and efforts to examine the areas as part of nine subcommittees. The committees surveyed faculty and a sample of freshmen students to gather evidence about the perception and effectiveness of OU’s first-year student experience within the nine dimensions.
“First-year students either fall in love with the university or feel lonely and left out,” said Virinder Moudgil, vice president of academic affairs and provost, adding that with academics and student activities coming together, students will have rewarding and engaging experiences.
The committee’s preliminary recommendations include:
- developing a university-wide, first-year philosophy and aligning it with general education requirements;
- creating a first-year council;
- creating a teaching and learning center;
- developing a required common student experience;
- creating student readiness criteria used in admissions;
- smaller first-year class sizes;
- rewarding faculty for involvement in first-year initiatives;
- reviewing programs that work and institutionalizing and enhancing those campus-wide;
- providing a first-year advising center;
- increasing diversity programming and resources for such programming;
- developing a more balanced approach to explaining the value of higher education and putting excitement behind it.
“Many of these recommendations are things we can do without a substantial addition of resources,” said Susan Awbry, vice provost of undergraduate education and coordinator of the Foundations of Excellence project.
The council will create an action plan to be presented to the university later this spring for feedback. A kick-off meeting will be held in fall 2006 to start developing the selected ideas into services and programs for first-year students.
OU was selected by the Policy Center on the First Year of College to serve as one of two institutional models for the Foundations of Excellence assessment. Twenty-six other institutions also are examining their first-year experiences, with many more expected to join the process in the years to come.