The University of Northern Iowa was selected in 2008 to participate in a national higher-education project known as "Foundations of Excellence® (FoE) in the First College Year" -- a partnership with the Policy Center on the First Year of College (www.fyfoundations.org). FoE was a guided, intensive, self study of all aspects of the first college year.
The process used local campus expertise – more than 130 faculty, students, and staff dedicated their time to this effort. The result is that the UNI community is now working together to create an institutional plan for improving student learning and success in the first year that will then influence students’ entire higher-education experience.
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), UNI's reaccreditation agency, granted approval to include this special planning process as part of our reaccreditation efforts. This provided a unique opportunity to make the reaccreditation process a more meaningful faculty and staff-driven intellectual activity, resulting in measureable change and real educational improvement.
Participating in the Foundations of Excellence® will enable UNI to achieve the larger goal of developing benchmarks for student learning in the first year that will guide institutional decisions and actions throughout the college experience. Additionally, the self-study assures that UNI will consider learning outcomes in the broader context of institutional improvement. This process will contribute to the assessment and alignment of our institutional mission, goals, and intended outcomes.