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Center Selects Penn College to Participate in National Project

During the coming year, Pennsylvania College of Technology will participate in a national higher-education project known as “Foundations of Excellence® in the First College Year.” Located in Williamsport, Penn College is a special mission affiliate of Penn State, committed to applied technology education.

The project, sponsored by the Policy Center on the First Year of College, will utilize a model of excellence for the first college year. This model can be used by colleges and universities to develop and refine their overall approach to educating first-year students.

Research has long indicated that new students who are successfully integrated into college are much more likely to succeed. Many colleges, therefore, work especially hard to create a first-rate experience for new students.

Since February 2003, the Foundations of Excellence project has involved more than 300 two- and four-year colleges and universities across the country in developing the standards (“Foundational Dimensions®”) that constitute a model first year. Penn College will work with the Policy Center and its technology support and educational survey partner, Educational Benchmarking Inc., in 2009-10.

Member institutions will measure their effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising and teaching new students. They will then be able to make programmatic improvements that will increase student learning, success and persistence.

In describing the importance of this project, John N. Gardner, executive director of the Policy Center on the First Year of College, located in Brevard, N.C., said, “While much is known about how a campus can improve new student learning and retention, this information has never been synthesized or translated into aspirational standards that are reflective of best practice. The absence of clear standards has powerful educational and financial consequences. This project brings together a number of highly credible researchers, reformers and practitioners, who are creating the blueprint that for too long has been missing.”

Betsy Barefoot, co-director and senior scholar, adds that the standards are not only aspirational, but they can also be used to measure an institution’s current level of excellence in its approach to the first year.

In response to the selection, Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour said, “We are honored to be chosen for this important initiative. The first-year experience is crucial for college students, who face a multitude of challenges as they seek to develop academically and socially in a new environment. We must be confident that we are doing all we can to encourage and support first-year students as they gain the skills they need to be successful in college and in life. “

Additional information about the Policy Center on the First Year of College and this project can be found online . More information about Penn College is available on the Web .

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