In 2011, Purdue recognized that we needed to change direction in order to reach our aspirational goals. We have the ability to deliberately design the academic environment and student experience to greatly enhance learning, competence, confidence, and ultimately student success. Our commitment is to change what we do and how we do it.

The leadership of the four campus units with responsibility for many departments and programs that have high levels of interaction with first-year students— Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Housing and Food Services, and Diversity and Inclusion—collaborated to jointly sponsor a yearlong study resulting in an action plan. Together, these campus leaders engaged the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education to facilitate a reflective process of assessment and action.

A task force of more than 200 Purdue faculty, staff, and students studied methods to align Purdue's resources to enhance the first-year experience. A steering committee of 34 University leaders guided discussions around nine aspirational standards for excellence in the first year, known as "Foundational Dimensions."

Purdue's nine Dimension Committees were charged with evaluating and rating specific performance indicators, as well as producing recommendations and reports. The reports and recommendations were closely examined, evaluated, revised, and synthesized by the Steering Committee to generate the findings, primary recommendation, and responsibilities.

The task force's key recommendation is that a single organization for undergraduate student success be given responsibility and authority to coordinate efforts that integrate curricular efforts with co-curricular efforts in order to provide an intentional, cohesive first-year experience that result in success. This organization will report to the Provost and will be charged with coordinating responsibilities in three thematic areas.

  1. Specialized and heightened focus on the experiences of first-year students.
  2. Coordinate curricular, co-curricular, and academic success efforts for first-year students.
  3. Focus on an environment of improvement based on innovative evidence-based decision-making and scholarship.

As a fundamental change to Purdue's organizational structure, the benefit is that Purdue will have an intentionally developed, coordinated, University-wide strategy that encourages students to pursue excellence and supports them in their endeavors. Thus, academic and support units will be invited to fully and collaboratively participate in the first-year experience.

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