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Austin Peay State University redefining first-year experience through “Foundations of Excellence” education project


Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – This academic year, Austin Peay State University is participating in a national higher education project known as “Foundations of Excellence.”

The project, sponsored by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, will use a model of excellence to redefine the first-year college experience at Austin Peay.

Austin Peay State University Campus. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University Campus. (APSU)

“One of the main priorities of this University is to make sure we help students earn a great education that culminates in a college degree,” Dr. Alisa White, APSU president, said. “Helping these students succeed is our focus as soon as they enroll, and certainly students who enter as freshmen must learn to do college-level work and to transition to college life. Our involvement with this nationally recognized initiative will help us ensure that they have the resources and support they need to graduate.”

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 of 2003, the Foundations of Excellence project has involved hundreds of two- and four-year colleges and universities across the country in developing the standards that constitute a model first year. Austin Peay will work with the Gardner Institute this academic year.

Through this program, the University will measure its effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising and teaching new students. Austin Peay will then be able to make programmatic improvements that will increase student learning, success and persistence.

“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,” John N. Gardner, president of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, said.

“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,” stated Gardner.

Additional information about the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and this project can be found at




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