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Aug. 3, 2009
The scholar and teacher regarded as perhaps the nation's leading expert on programs that help college students survive the challenges of the all-important freshman year will lead a day-long workshop at Northwest Missouri State University Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Dr. John N. Gardner is a professor, author, editor, speaker and consultant who has risen to prominence as a student retention specialist and freshman advocate. He is widely known for developing the concept known in higher education as "the first-year experience," a phrase he coined.
Gardner's appearance at Northwest coincides with the 25 th anniversary of the University's Freshman Seminar, a special course designed to introduce new students to college life. In Freshman Seminar, first-year students develop an individualized plan designed to help them acquire skills and utilize resources that will help them succeed academically and socially.
While the Aug. 25 workshop is primarily for Freshman Seminar instructors and Peer Advisors -- upper-level students assigned to assist new freshmen -- Gardner will also speak at events open to the wider campus community and the news media.
A press conference with Gardner will take place at approximately 9:20 a.m. in the Carnahan Reading Room on the third floor of the J.W. Jones Student Union.
The press conference will be followed by a presentation from 10 a.m.-noon titled "First Year Current Trends and Best Practices." This session is especially intended for Freshman Seminar instructors, Peer Advisors and new faculty, but other faculty, staff and department chairs are welcome to attend.
Northwest students, faculty and staff are also urged to take part in a second session with Gardner beginning at 3:30 p.m., also on the third floor of the union.
"Dr. Gardner last visited Northwest 17 years ago, and his influence is still being felt in the way we welcome freshmen to campus," said Dr. John Fisher, assistant professor of communication, theatre and languages and Freshman Seminar director. "Northwest has notably high freshman retention because our first-year students are given access to a multitude of resources and opportunities that allow them to learn the skills they need to do well.
"Dr. Gardner has made it his life's work to help students make a successful transition to college life, and he has greatly influenced Northwest's efforts to develop an outstanding first-year experience."
Gardner currently serves as president of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and executive director of the Policy Center on the First Year of College.
The center, based in Brevard, N.C., and established in 1999 by Gardner and his wife, Dr. Betsy O. Barefoot, was awarded initial grant funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Since then, it has received approximately $7.5 million in support from numerous philanthropic organizations. Founded in 2007, the Gardner Institute works with colleges and universities to strengthen their efforts to improve student learning and retention.
Gardner is a senior fellow of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and a distinguished professor emeritus of library and information science at the University of South Carolina. The National Resource Center, founded by Gardner in 1986, organizes first-year experience conferences and disseminates information through scholarly publications, videos, workshops, seminars and teleconferences.
Gardner was selected by the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) as one of 20 faculty in the U. S. who "… have made outstanding leadership contributions to their institutions and/or American higher education." He was also recognized by the Council of Independent Colleges with the 1996 Academic Leadership Award.
His professional affiliations have included board memberships with AAHE, the International Partnership for Service Learning and Marietta College and advisory board service for the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, "The New York Times" and the Lumina Foundation for Education.
Gardner's work has been favorably reviewed in "The Chronicle of Higher Education," "The New York Times," "The Times of London," "U.S. News and World Report" and "Money" magazine.
The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education Web site is located at http://www.jngi.org/ . Gardner's appearance at Northwest is being supported by a Culture of Quality grant through the Office of the Provost.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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