What Foundations of Excellence® Participants Receive 

A Comprehensive Package of Services and Products

Twelve months of intensive advisory support by a team of highly experienced professionals led by John N. Gardner of the Gardner Institute. This advisory support team consists of core staff members in addition to knowledgeable experts drawn from former Foundations of Excellence (FoE) participating institutions. These services are tailored to the unique needs of each campus and include

  • support from a primary Gardner Institute Advisor, a senior staff member who will provide both solicited and unsolicited assistance throughout the project.
  • regular telephone, e-mail, and web-based video communications from the Gardner Institute Advisor and others on the Gardner Institute team.
  • comprehensive written feedback on eleven distinct steps in the self-study process.  
  • technical support for the FoE technology platform, FoEtec®.
  • assistance with FoE surveys: administering, understanding their applications, and interpreting data.
  • periodic national cohort conference calls/webinars that will enable your team to interact with Gardner Institute staff members and colleagues at other FoE participating campuses.

Foundational Dimensions® . The Foundational Dimensions are nine principles underpinning first-year excellence designed as both aspirational and measurement standards for the first year. These nine Dimensions, in both four-year and two-year versions, are the central intellectual assumptions of this work.

Performance Indicators . Each Foundational Dimension is accompanied by a set of performance indicators (P.I.'s) that break down the broad constructs into measurable components.

Current Practices Inventory . This inventory is both a process and template for conducting a comprehensive, institution-wide inventory of all policies, practices, and programs, both curricular and extracurricular, affecting first-year students. Information collected on the Current Practices Inventory serves as a factual knowledge basis for the ensuing assessment activities.

Action Plan for improving the first college year. Foundations of Excellence includes a process and template for producing the ultimate outcome of the process, the action plan.

FoEtec® - an advanced technology platform. FoEtec is available to all participants and serves as a sophisticated, but user-friendly, electronic platform for recording data, internal and external communication, as well as reporting findings. Participating campuses will have a two-year license to use the FoEtec electronic platform.

Foundations of Excellence Faculty/Staff and Student Surveys . As part of participation in the Foundations of Excellence process, campuses will participate in surveys of faculty/staff and first-year and transfer students. The surveys, owned and administered by Educational Benchmarking, Inc., (EBI) are employed early in the self-study process. EBI's interactive on-line analysis tools allow groups to analyze and discuss survey results as team. Final results are an important source of evidence for the self-study process.

Foundations of Excellence Launch Meeting . The Gardner Institute sponsors a required two-day summer meeting to prepare each campus to derive maximum benefit from the Foundations of Excellence process. Three complimentary registrations include most meals and all materials. In addition to the three representatives, additional participants may attend for a fee of $350. The 2011 launch meetings will be held in Asheville, NC at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel on the following dates: four-year institution meeting on July 25th & July 26th; two-year institution meeting on August 1st & August 2nd. Click here for detailed information about recommended campus representatives, meeting schedule, accommodations, and travel.

Foundations of Excellence Winter Meeting. The Gardner Institute sponsors a one-day optional Winter Meeting of all participating campuses. Participants may attend the Winter Meeting for a modest cost recovery registration fee. The 2012 Winter Meeting is scheduled for February 17th in San Antonio, TX.

The Winter Meeting will enable current and past participants to meet and share challenges, opportunities, and outcomes of the project. Detailed registration information will be provided several months prior to the meeting.

Foundations of Excellence Summit Meeting. The Gardner Institute sponsors a required two-day, summer meeting designed to give FoE institutions the opportunity to share their year-long experience and its outcomes. The Summit provides an opportunity for FoE participants to network with each other and the Gardner Institute staff. Registration for two participants are included in the comprehensive fee, and additional participants may attend for an additional per-person fee (TBD). We strongly recommend that each campus be represented by at least two, but preferably three or more, members of the FoE task force.

The meeting location is the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, in Asheville, North Carolina.
The date is Thursday, June 14-15, 2012.

Feedback from Gardner Institute staff on all reporting items.   As part of the Foundations of Excellence process, participating campuses submit, to the Gardner Institute, the Current Practices Inventory and reports on the Foundational Dimensions. In turn, the campus will receive written feedback from Gardner Institute Advisors on each of these reports.

National recognition. While recognizing individual campuses' privacy with respect to specific findings, participating campuses will receive national publicity for their involvement in Foundations of Excellence.

Special opportunity for Higher Learning Commission institutions. Institutions that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) may use the Foundations of Excellence process as the first step in an officially sanctioned "customized self-study process" for the purposes of reaffirmation of accreditation. For more information on this option contact either John Gardner at the Gardner Institute or your HLC campus staff liaison.

Click here for complete cost information on the comprehensive package

Optional Foundations of Excellence Process Enhancements and Support
(for additional costs)

Note: It is the intent and design of the Foundations of Excellence process that it be successful and influential without the additional services described below. But Gardner Institute staff recognize that some campuses may wish to select from a menu of additional forms of support and service, and these are offered in that spirit and recognition.

Campus visit(s): Members of the Gardner Institute advisory support team are available to make site visits to participating FoE campuses. During site visits a number of services may be provided based on the unique needs of the campus. These services include, but are not limited to:

  • Direct work with campus leaders, FoE task force members, and students.
  • Presentations to the campus community during the self-study process (e.g., campus launch, mid-point, or at the conclusion of the study).
  • Information and advice on various first-year initiatives.
  • Interaction with media representatives.

Campus visits may be made by:

  • The campus's primary Gardner Institute Advisor
  • Any of the other Gardner Institute advisory support team members  

Click here for complete biographical information on these individuals.

A Second Perspective: A member of the Gardner Institute advisory support team may be requested to serve as a “critical friend” to the campus task force. This consultant provides additional, independent written feedback on the key components of the self study. The principal advantage of this feature is that the campus secures the added perspective and support of someone who has successfully led and completed the FoE process. This consultant provides extensive feedback in addition to the feedback provided by the campus's primary advisor. This option may also be enhanced by incorporating a campus visit.

Advisory support for former Foundations of Excellence participating institutions. As the Gardner Institute launches its next national cohort group of Foundations of Excellence participants, we will have worked previously with 198 US colleges and universities, public and private, four and two-year, that have participated in a Foundations of Excellence Self Study and Action Plan for campus improvement. Recognizing that the hardest work for many of them may be the implementation of that Action Plan, we understand that some institutions may want or need external assistance on such implementation and we would be pleased to offer such support.

Additional participant attendance at Launch Meeting.
Launch Meeting additional participant costs (above the three complimentary representatives) include a registration fee of $350 per person and costs for travel and accommodations.

Optional participant attendance at Winter Meeting.
Winter Meeting participant costs include a modest cost recovery registration fee per person and costs for travel and accommodations.

For additional information about these optional project enhancements, contact John N. Gardner, President.