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Philosophy

Purdue's educational mission is clearly articulated in its strategic plan. In pursuit of that mission, Purdue has established numerous efforts that facilitate effective learning and teaching, from assessment to support for teaching to methods for continually improving the academic environment.[36] Additionally, many areas of Purdue are highly sensitive to the needs of first-year students and have developed approaches that include intentional programs that positively enhance the first-year experience.

Despite having both a clear statement of its overall learning mission and nationally recognized programs focused on first-year teaching and learning, Purdue lacks a common statement of institutional values specific to the first-year experience.

Just as Purdue's strategic plan goals are pervasive on campus, a well-conceived and articulated philosophy statement regarding the first-year experience would provide a clear and concise vision to inform and catalyze relevant institutional policies and practices. The statement would serve as a foundation for organizational policies, practices, structures, leadership, department and unit missions, and resource allocation.

A cross-campus review of institutional data, Office of Admissions literature, internal publications and websites, mission statements, vision statements, value statements, strategic plans, and the Foundations of Excellence Faculty and Staff Surveys revealed that a few individual departments within colleges or divisions have some themes or foci specific to the first-year experience, but these elements are neither uniform nor widely adopted across campus.

The Foundations of Excellence process provides a unique opportunity to formulate a common statement of philosophy and vet that statement among a broad cross section of campus representatives. The cross-campus characteristics of the nine Dimension Committees provide a positive environment in which one central philosophy statement can gain acceptance, influence colleges and departments, and solidify a commitment to the management changes necessary to adopt this philosophy and positively shape campus culture. Adoption of this statement will provide core values, clarity and an ongoing, high-level awareness so that there will be a unified approach to goal setting and direction.

We are mindful that Purdue's size presents a challenge. As with any statement of this nature, at a large institution there can be differences in interpretation and some risk that the statement will be ignored, misunderstood or altered to support specific needs rather than the collective good. To make institutional change that is long-lasting and has significant impact, executive leadership and leadership from all units that interact with first-year students must keep this statement in mind and give it high priority as they allocate resources and make decisions.

Recommendations

  1. Vet the following proposed Purdue University Philosophy Statement for the First-Year Experience with the University community.

    At Purdue, we believe the first-year experience should enable students to build a solid foundation for success, not only at the University, but also throughout their lives.

    Through learning experiences and support services, both in and beyond the classroom, students grow intellectually and develop personally. They acquire knowledge and skills to succeed academically, build confidence and resilience to accept and embrace challenges, and develop their personal and academic identity.

    Students are welcomed into and expected to participate actively in a vibrant and intellectually challenging community within which all members feel a sense of belonging, irrespective of personal or group status, culture, or ethnicity. They share interests and activities with one another and learn to think, act, and remain openly respectful of diverse views and experiences.

    Students are challenged to become globally prepared, interdependent, critical thinkers, with an ever-increasing ability to locate, assess and apply knowledge resources that help them develop as whole, productive citizens and leaders on campus and beyond.

    As a Purdue community, we hold ourselves accountable for providing experiences, support services, access to faculty and staff, and a safe learning environment whereby students can achieve these goals.

    DISCOVER — ENGAGE — LEARN

  2. Request that the executive leadership, deans and Foundations of Excellence Steering Committee review the statement and evaluate its impact on their respective units through honest discussion of challenges, opportunities, action items and assessment.

  3. Affirm the approved statement through the Foundations of Excellence process and roll out via a communication plan in cooperation with Purdue Marketing and Media.


36. 2010 Re-accreditation Self-Study Report for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools: Reaching New Heights. Purdue University. http://www.purdue.edu/accreditation/2010/index.php (accessed July 12, 2012)