The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition was born out of the success of University of South Carolina’s much-honored University 101 course. This course was the brainchild of President Thomas Jones, who in May 1970 faced a campus fractured by protests. In the aftermath of the campus riots, he hoped to bond students to the institution and transform the way that undergraduate students were taught. Two years later, the first group of entering college students at the University of South Carolina signed up for a new course called University 101. Little did President Jones know that he would do more than create a course, he would provide the impetus for an international movement to improve the educational experiences of first-year college students. This mission was embraced by educators across the country, and in 1982, 175 of them joined John N. Gardner, then the faculty director of University 101, and his colleagues at the University of South Carolina for a meeting on the first-year seminar concept. At the urging of participants, Gardner organized the first Annual Conference on The Freshman Year Experience the following year. The momentum created by the educators attending these early conferences paved the way for the development of the National Resource Center, which was established at the University of South Carolina in 1986. As the National Resource Center broadened its focus to include other significant student transitions in higher education, it underwent several name changes, adopting the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition in 1998.
Today, the Center collaborates with its institutional partner, University 101 Programs, in pursuit of its mission to advance and support efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education. Through its work with conferences and continuing education, a full complement of publications, the pursuit of a research agenda, and the creation and dissemination of online resources, the Center has grown to become the trusted expert, internationally recognized leader, and clearinghouse for scholarship, policy, and best practice for the first-year experience and all postsecondary student transitions.