Foundations of Excellence

Foundational Dimensions

Foundational Dimensions statements constitute a model that provides a means to evaluate and improve the first college year. As an evaluation tool, the model enables institutions both to confirm their strengths and to recognize the need for improvement. As an aspiration model, the D

imensions provide general guidelines for an intentional design of the first year. The dimensions rest on four assumptions:

  • The academic mission is preeminent;
  • The first college year is central to achievement of an institution’s mission and lays the foundation of which undergraduate education is built;
  • Systematic evidence provides validation of the Dimensions;
  • Collectively, the Dimensions constitute an ideal for improving not only the first college year, but also the entire undergraduate experience.


Foundations Institutions approach the first year in ways that are intentional and based on a philosophy/rationale of the first year that info

rms relevant institutional policies and practices.


Foundations Institutions create organizational structures and policies that provide a comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated approach to the first year.


Foundations Institutions deliver intentional curricular and co-curricular learning experiences that engage students in order to develop knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors consistent with the desired outcomes of higher education and the institution’s philosophy and mission.


Foundations Institutions make the first college year a high priority for the faculty.


Foundations Institutions facilitate appropriate student transitions through policies and practices that are intentional and aligned with institutional mission.

All Students

Foundations Institutions serve all first-year students according to their varied needs.


Foundations Institutions ensure that all first-year students experience diverse ideas, worldviews, and cultures as a means of enhancing their learning and preparing them to become members of pluralistic communities.

Roles and Purposes

Foundations Institutions promote student understanding of thevarious roles and purposes of higher education, both for the individual and society.


Foundations Institutions conduct assessment and maintain associations with other institutions and relevant professional organizations in order to achieve ongoing first-year improvement.