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The National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition serves as the trusted expert, internationally recognized leader, and clearinghouse for scholarship, policy, and best practice for all postsecondary student transitions. The following statements of mission and core commitments provide a foundation for these activities and guide the Center's efforts.

Mission Statement

Building upon its history of excellence as the founder and leader of the first-year experience movement, the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition serves education professionals by supporting and advancing efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education. We achieve this mission by providing opportunities for the exchange of practical and scholarly information as well as the discussion of trends and issues in our field through the convening of conferences and other professional development events such as institutes, workshops, and online learning opportunities; publication of scholarly practice books, research reports, a peer-reviewed journal, electronic newsletters, and guides; generating, supporting, and disseminating research and scholarship; hosting visiting scholars; and maintaining several online channels for resource sharing and communication, including a dynamic website, listservs, and social media outlets.

Core Commitments

Student Transitions: Student transitions such as the first year of college, sophomore year, transfer experience, degree completion, and new graduate student experiences are critical junctures in the educational pipeline and unique opportunities for postsecondary student learning and development. We strive to set a standard of excellence for supporting student transitions and facilitating educational success for a diversity of students in the 21st century.

Connection Between Research and Practice: We believe that good practice in higher education must rely upon a foundation of high-quality research. Conversely, good research draws from and informs practices in our field. As such, the work of the National Resource Center advances and supports both scholarly practice and applied research.

Inclusion: We strive to create a supportive and professional environment where a diversity of viewpoints are recognized and considered in the ongoing dialogue on student transitions. One of the greatest strengths of the first-year experience and students in transition movement is its ability to cut across traditional boundaries in higher education and involve professionals from multiple sectors of education, institutional roles, and disciplinary perspectives as well as from a variety of personal backgrounds, institutional environments, and educational experiences.

Collaboration: Partnership and collaboration draw from the interdisciplinary nature of higher education, communicate an ongoing commitment to inclusion, and, ultimately, enhance the success of our efforts to support student transitions. The National Resource Center models effective collaboration and aims to create intentional and integrative connections between colleagues, units, organizations, systems, educational sectors, regions, and countries in support of student transition and success.

Lifelong Learning: We believe that all educators continue to be lifelong learners. We support a climate of intellectual curiosity and provide the tools and media to pursue professional development and an ongoing process of inquiry, exploration, and discovery.

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.

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