First-year experience programs welcome students into a community of scholars, helping students build meaningful relationships with faculty, staff, and other students. These programs expose students to campus resources and create positive early experiences that increase student persistence, retention, and success. High levels of faculty and staff engagement and campus involvement fosters student persistence and degree completion. UT supports first-year students in many ways but primarily through:
- New Student Orientation, which reaches every incoming student.
- Welcome Week, which helps familiarize new students with the campus every fall and sets academic expectations for the first year and beyond.
- Academic and Transition Courses, which offer small class sizes that allow students to build a relationship with their professors, academic and student life professionals, and peers. These courses either focus on an academic discipline or serve as an extended introduction to the university.
- Residential Programs, which include, but are not limited to, Living and Learning Communities, which create small communities among first-year students.
The plan will consider intentional ways to support students through new student orientation, Welcome Week, residential programs, and academic and transition courses with the following goals:
- Placing student experience at the forefront of all decisions;
- Helping students navigate the academic transition from previous institution, including high school, community college, and other four-year colleges, to UT through high-impact practices;
- Developing awareness and comfort with campus resources and engaging in high impact practices;
- Building an on-campus community through involvement and interpersonal relationships with faculty, staff, and students; and
- Creating consistent metrics to measure progress and success
About the task force
In addition to an executive committee, the task force will have three subcommittees focused on new student orientation, Welcome Week, and first-year programs.
The executive committee is charged with identifying and gaining consensus on foundation activities for first-year programs that create a seamless student experience in support of increasing student academic success, persistence, and completion within the student’s first year. The subcommittees will take a deeper dive into best practices within a specific programmatic area. Each subcommittee will recommend one member serve on the executive committee.
This post will be updated with committee members when the composition is finalized.
March 12, 2020—Kick-Off Meeting
April-July 2020—Data collection & campus site visits
August 2020—Outline of recommendations due
September 2020—First & second drafts of proposals due
October 2020—Final proposals due to the provost