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Year 1: Foundational Dimensions

Foundational Dimensions statements constitute a model that provides institutions with a means to evaluate and improve the first year of college. As an evaluation tool, the model enables institutions both to confirm their strengths and to recognize the need for improvement. As an aspirational model, the Dimensions provide general guidelines for an intentional design of the first year. The Dimensions rest on four assumptions:

  • The academic mission of an institution is preeminent;
  • The first college year is central to the achievement of an institution’s mission and lays the foundation on which undergraduate education is built;
  • Systematic evidence provides validation of the Dimensions;
  • Collectively, the Dimensions constitute an ideal for improving not only the first college year, but also the entire undergraduate experience.


Foundations Institutions approach the first year in ways that are intentional and based on a philosophy/rationale of the first year that informs relevant institutional policies and practices. 

The philosophy/rationale is explicit, clear and easily understood, consistent with the institutional mission, widely disseminated, and, as appropriate, reflects a consensus of campus constituencies. The philosophy/rationale is also the basis for first-year organizational policies, practices, structures, leadership, department/unit philosophies, and resource allocation.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Stuart Long, Professor, Electrical Engineering, Cullen College of Engineering
  • Staff Co-Chair: Sandy Coltharp, Director of Human Resources, Employment and Talent Management


Foundations Institutions create organizational structures and policies that provide a comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated approach to the first year. 

These structures and policies provide oversight and alignment of all first-year efforts. A coherent first-year experience is realized and maintained through effective partnerships among academic affairs, student affairs, and other administrative units and is enhanced by ongoing faculty and staff development activities and appropriate budgetary arrangements.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: David Francis, Chair, Department of Psychology, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • Staff Co-Chair: Keith Kowalka, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services


Foundations Institutions deliver intentional curricular and co-curricular learning experiences that engage students in order to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors consistent with the desired outcomes of higher education and the institution’s philosophy and mission. 

Whether in or out of the classroom, learning also promotes increased competence in critical thinking, ethical development, and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Laura Turchi, Assistant Professor, College of Education
  • Staff Co-Chair: Christina Gola, Librarian, Head of Liaison Services for Instruction & Outreach, University Libraries


Foundations Institutions make the first college year a high priority for the faculty.

These institutions are characterized by a culture of faculty responsibility for the first year that is realized through high-quality instruction in first-year classes and substantial interaction between faculty and first-year students both inside and outside the classroom. This culture of responsibility is nurtured by chief academic officers, deans, and department chairs and supported by the institutions’ reward systems.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Maria Elena Solino, Faculty Senate President-Elect, Associate Professor, Hispanic Studies, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Staff Co-Chair: Sara Brown, Director of Business Operations, C.T. Bauer College of Business


Foundations Institutions facilitate appropriate student transitions through policies and practices that are intentional and aligned with institutional mission. 

Beginning with recruitment and admissions and continuing through the first year, institutions communicate clear curricular and co- curricular expectations and provide appropriate support for educational success. They are forthright about their responsibilities to students as well as students’ responsibilities to themselves and the institution. They create and maintain curricular alignments with secondary schools and linkages with secondary school personnel, families, and other sources of support, as appropriate.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Melissa Pierson, Associate Dean, College of Education
  • Staff Co-Chair: Trang Phan, Assistant Dean, Director of Student Affairs and International Programs

All Students

Foundations Institutions serve all first-year students according to their varied needs. 

The process of anticipating, diagnosing, and addressing needs is ongoing and is subject to assessment and adjustment throughout the first year. Institutions provide services with respect for the students’ abilities, backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Institutions also ensure a campus environment that is inclusive and safe for all students.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Chinhui Juhn, Professor of Economics
  • Staff Co-Chair: Willie Munson, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services


Foundations Institutions ensure that all first-year students experience diverse ideas, worldviews, and cultures as a means of enhancing their learning and preparing them to become members of pluralistic communities. 

Whatever their demographic composition, institutions structure experiences in which students interact in an open and civil community with people from backgrounds and cultures different from their own, reflect on ideas and values different from those they currently hold, and explore their own cultures and the cultures of others.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Elizabeth Gregory, Director Womens Studies, Professor English, CLASS
  • Staff Co-Chair: Floyd Robinson, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services

Roles and Purposes

Foundations Institutions promote student understanding of the various roles and purposes of higher education, both for the individual and society. 

These roles and purposes include knowledge acquisition for personal growth, learning to prepare for future employment, learning to become engaged citizens, and learning to serve the public good. Institutions encourage first-year students to examine systematically their motivation and goals with regard to higher education in general and to their own college/university. Students are exposed to the value of general education as well as to the value of more focused, in-depth study of a field or fields of knowledge (i.e., the major).

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Carl Boger, Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Clinton L. Rappole Endowed Chair, Conrad Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management
  • Staff Co-Chair: Troy Hopkins, Director of Undergraduate Career Counseling, Rockwell Career Center, C.T. Bauer College of Business


Foundations Institutions conduct assessment and maintain associations with other institutions and relevant professional organizations in order to achieve ongoing first-year improvement.

This assessment is specific to the first year as a unit of analysis—a distinct time period and set of experiences, academic and otherwise, in the lives of students. It is also linked systemically to the institutions’ overall assessment. Assessment results are an integral part of institutional planning, resource allocation, decision-making, and ongoing improvement of programs and policies as they affect first-year students. As part of the enhancement process and as a way to achieve ongoing improvement, institutions are familiar with current practices at other institutions as well as with research and scholarship on the first college year.

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Faculty Co-Chair: Monique Ogletree, Instructional Associate Professor and Faculty Director, Undergraduate Advising Center, College of Natural Science and Mathematics
  • Staff Co-Chair: Maria Peden, Associate Director of Athletics, Student-Athlete Development