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October 1, 2012

FoE implementation: Student success programs

Aligning student success programs, coordinating academic resources and streamlining orientation efforts for first-year students are all ways Purdue will promote student achievement through its Foundations of Excellence (FOE) initiative.

Led by Jared Tippets, the Foundations of Excellence initiative's director of student success, these efforts have begun with the renaming of Purdue's Student Access, Transition and Success (SATS) programs to Student Success at Purdue. The name change reflects the organization's desire to be good campus partners and to provide a holistic, campus-wide approach to promoting student success, Tippets says.

"Across campus, we have many offices and programs that are focused on student success, from the HORIZONS in Student Affairs, to Science Bound in Diversity & Inclusion, Purdue Promise in SATS, and the Environmental, Engineering and Life Science (FEELS) program in the College of Agriculture," says Tippets, director of student success at Purdue.

"My goal is for all these offices to work together instead of independently to help improve student success. If students see us reaching out as a cohesive group rather than as many different voices, we'll be more effective in our mission of improving the success of all first-year students."

Tippets, a member of the Foundations of Excellence implementation team, for the next three years will work with the four other team members and will lead initiative-based changes in his area. A key component of those changes will involve aligning the activities of student success programs across campus, which encompass efforts aimed at helping students succeed academically and socially.

Purdue's Foundations of Excellence initiative -- part of a nationwide push to develop consistent, campus-wide strategies to improve the first-year student experience -- aims to achieve its goals through implementing a host of recommendations developed by a campus-wide task force.

In addition to interoffice collaboration, Student Success at Purdue will explore the coordination of all math, physics and chemistry helps rooms, as well as tutoring services, Supplemental Instruction and the Academic Success Center.  To make things easier for students, information and access to all these resources will be housed at a central website: www.purdue.edu/tutoring, which will be developed in the coming months.

As part of another key FoE recommendation, Purdue will seek to develop a consistent, coordinated orientation course for all first-year students. Now, typically each college -- and in some case each department -- offers different orientation courses.  Going forward, Tippets says, the goal is to ensure all students are instructed on core topics designed to help them succeed regardless of major.

Christine Taylor, vice provost for diversity, chief diversity officer and a Foundations of Excellence task force leader, says developing an orientation course is a critical step toward promoting self-reflection in all first-year students.

"As a university, we learn about ourselves by asking critical questions," Taylor says. "Now, we're developing a way for students to engage in that same process to learn more about themselves and what they want to accomplish."

Along with a coordinated orientation course, Tippets will work with partners across campus to streamline communications sent to first-year students, who often receive mailers and electronic communications from several Purdue sources. One possible goal, Tippets says, would involve creating an orientation booklet containing necessary information for all first-year students.

Coordinating the information students receive as they prepare to embark on their college careers also may allow them more opportunities to explore their professional and academic interests, says Heather Servaty-Seib, co-chair of the Foundations of Excellence transitions subcommittee.

"If information about campus and college life is more readily available and more consistently communicated, students will have an easier time transitioning and will spend less of their time and energy on negotiating campus," says Servaty-Seib, associate professor of educational studies.

"Often -- and particularly for first-year students -- Purdue seems like a number of separate institutions rather than a single university community. Changing this is something we consider vital to the Foundations of Excellence initiative's goals."

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu