The first-year experience initiative is the result of the recommendations from the First-Year Experience Task Force Report, issued in fall 2012. The overarching goal is to improve the experience of first-year students through intentional, integrated programs so that students establish a strong foundation of community, academic success and personal growth to build upon through to graduation.
The time is now to address critical issues that hinder undergraduate student success. The passage of Oregon Senate Bill 253 in 2011 set an ambitious educational attainment goal that aims for 40 percent of all Oregonians to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, 40 percent to hold an associate’s degree and 20 percent to hold a high school diploma or equivalent by 2025. Oregon State University has a responsibility to our students and to our state's citizenry to improve retention and six-year graduation rates and as well as address persistent gaps in student achievement.
University-wide concentrated efforts to turn Oregon State into a world-renowned institution have resulted in tremendous achievements in recent years. The university has grown to become one of the leading research universities in the nation, garnering over $263 million in research funding in fiscal year 2013, including $36 million in private sector financing—a 65 percent increase in this area over the previous five years. The OSU Foundation’s Campaign for OSU has greatly surpassed its original goal of $625 million, and is on track to meet its $1 billion goal in 2014, leading to funding for new facilities, endowed faculty positions, scholarships and more. With the success of these priority areas in mind, it is now time to turn our energy toward our undergraduate students. Our first-to-second year retention rates and six-year graduation rates have not improved significantly in recent years. With focused energy and renewed commitment, we believe that we can move these numbers and help more students realize that educational goals.
We as a university must be intrusive in our care of students. The process of transitioning to college is—and should be—challenging, but we should proactively support student growth and success in this transitional process so that all students who apply themselves can be successful. If we have knowledge that a student is struggling or in difficulty, it must be our responsibility to reach out and offer help. Students’ earliest experiences at Oregon State should be much more than a checklist of requirements, a series of isolated interactions or a menu of disconnected options.
We envision a three-year period to implement, fine-tune, assess and improve our activities starting in fall 2013 and arriving at an initial steady state of implementation by fall 2016.
Yes. Visit the first-year experience student website here.