Texas A&M-Texarkana is continually striving to improve the college experience for their students.The university recently completed the internationally recognized John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education Foundations of Excellence process. Foundations of Excellence is a comprehensive self-study and improvement initiative focused on the freshman and transfer-student experience. Bringing together faculty, staff members, administrators and students, the process produces a strategic action plan to improve institutional performance and provides support for the implementation of the action plan.

A&M-Texarkana team leaders Elizabeth Patterson, assistant vice president for student success, Dr. Tom Wagy, professor of history, Dr. Corrine Hinton, assistant professor of English, Carl Greig, assistant vice president of student affairs, and senior data analyst Ricky Ray built a team of more than 40 faculty and staff members who all contributed to the Foundations of Excellence process.

“It was an honor for Texas A&M University-Texarkana to be selected as a participant in the 2014-15 cohort in the Foundations of Excellence initiative with the John N. Gardner Institute. Our advisor from the institute guided us and provided helpful information and feedback,” said Patterson. “We are eager to use what we have learned to enhance programs and make improvements across the university so that all students have excellent experiences during their first year and beyond at A&M-Texarkana.”

The Foundations of Excellence process included an evaluation and assessment of institutional behaviors, policies and practices including initial contact with students through admissions, orientation and all curricular and co-curricular experiences.

“Texas A&M University-Texarkana recognizes that the first-year experience is crucial for students’ success. This is true for recent high school graduates, community college transfers, or older students attempting to complete a degree,” said Dr. Wagy. “With the assistance of the John N. Gardner Institute, A&M-Texarkana has committed to a program that will enhance the first-year learning experience for all of our students. After a year of self-assessment, the university will begin implementation of the program in the fall of 2015.”

A&M-Texarkana was one of only eight colleges and universities to complete the Foundations of Excellence process in 2014-15.

“The time and hard work from our dedicated faculty and staff have made this first year of the Foundations of Excellence initiative tremendously successful,” said Dr. Hinton. “Now, what we have learned from the self-study process will allow us to be mindful in the decisions we make and deliberate in the actions we take toward improving the quality of our students’ first-year experience at A&M-Texarkana. I am excited about what we will accomplish as we advance into the implementation phase.”

The John N. Gardner Institute is a national leader in helping colleges and universities to increase student success. Nearly 300 universities and colleges have worked with the institute to build a comprehensive strategic action plan to yield a new vision for enhanced learning and retention.