Wichita State University
Foundations of Excellence
Final Report

To view the September 2009 WSU Foundations of Excellence Final Report - Including Executive Summary - download the PDF here.

Foundational Dimensions for Four-Year Institutions

  • The First Year Matters!
    The first year of college lays the foundation for student academic achievement and persistence. If the first year is to reach its potential for positive influence on student behavior, institutions must create effective first-year learning environments, both in and out of the classroom.
  • What are the Foundational Dimensions?
    The Foundational Dimensions are nine defining characteristics of institutional effectiveness that promote learning and success of first-year students. Learning and success include content and academic skill-building, higher order cognitive skill development, psychosocial development, and persistence to degree completion.
  •  How were the Foundational Dimensions developed?
    The Foundational Dimensions were developed by Policy Center staff members in collaboration with research partners of 400 public and private, two-year and four-year institutions. From 2003 through 2005, Dimensions were pilot-tested in 24 four-year and 10 two-year institutions. Funding for the pilot projects was provided by Lumina Foundation for Education and The Atlantic Philanthropies. A list of participants is available at www.fyfoundations.org.
  • How are Foundational Dimensions used?
    The Foundational Dimensions may be used to call attention to the importance of the first year and provide a starting point for discussions about effective educational practices. The dimensions are also the framework for the formal Foundations of Excellence self-study and improvement planning process. Institutions participating in Foundations of Excellence are guided through a comprehensive, systematic effort to evaluate institutional performance across the nine Dimensions and plan for improvements that will support the academic achievement and persistence of first-year students.

For additional information about the development
and use of the Foundational Dimensions, visit