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Three colleges join "Foundations of Excellence" initiative benefiting Lone Star College students

HOUSTON (Oct. 21, 2011) –  Lone Star College-CyFair, LSC- Kingwood and LSC-Tomball were recently selected to be a part of  “Foundations of Excellence (FoE),” a national program designed to evaluate and revitalize the campus’ services for first-year college students.

They will be joining LSC-Montgomery and LSC-North Harris that are already participating in the program.                                                              

“Lone Star College believes it is our job to make sure every student completes their educational goals to become more competitive in the job market,” said Dr. Donetta Goodall, Lone Star College System vice chancellor of academic affairs and student success. “We are extremely proud that each of our colleges will now be participating in this FoE initiative to help these students reach their educational goals and beyond.”

The FoE program is a year-long, comprehensive guided self-study and improvement process that explores the aspects of the new student experience and produces a plan for institutional improvement. While the process focuses mainly on the college’s policies, practices and programs, part of the evaluation process engages both traditional and non-traditional students through surveys to understand what they’re experiencing.

Each college will have a task force charged with leading the FoE initiative respectively. There are nine dimensions of the FoE plan including Philosophy, Organization, Learning, Campus Culture, Transitions, All Students, Diversity, Roles and Purposes, and Improvement.

This program is only a part of an overall “completion” process at LSCS that includes the recent Completion by Design grant and the Best Start program.  The Completion by Design grant was awarded to LSCS by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of this program, Lone Star College has been chosen to lead a state-wide effort aimed at significantly increasing completion rates of community college students by focusing on helping low-income students finish postsecondary education more quickly and with greater rates of success.

The Best Start program is part of a quality enhancement plan required for reaccreditation for Lone Star College. The premise of a “Best Start” is that for students to be successful in obtaining credentials, they need to set a goal; make a plan; get connected with faculty, advisors or counselors; and get involved on campus. 

One of the benefits of the FoE process to students is that it will help college staff develop strategies to eliminate the roadblocks to student success or to better equip students to overcome them, said Dr. Katherine Persson, president of LSC-Kingwood.

“The self-study will give us data-driven information needed to make change,” said Persson. “In a way, this initiative is the starting point for the broader Completion by Design project that is focused on having all students complete a certificate or degree or transfer to a university.”

In addition, students who successfully complete a course gain knowledge and self-confidence; however, it does not enable a student to compete with others for higher paying jobs that require completion of a certificate or degree, said Dr. Audre Levy, president of LSC-CyFair.

“Successfully completing the first year of college work establishes a pattern that greatly increases a student’s chance of completing a certificate or degree or transferring to a university to finish a baccalaureate degree,” said Levy.  “Changing current practices and/or initiating new ones that will help more students complete 30 semester credits of college coursework will greatly increase a student’s ability to finish their educational goal,” said Levy.

More than 300 four- and two-year higher education institutions have participated in the FoE process.

“We want students to graduate, we want them to look back as alums and say I'm a better person because I chose Lone Star College," said Dr. Susan Karr, president of LSC-Tomball. “This is just one more way for us to tie in our completion initiatives we have been working on with our cadre colleges in the Completion by Design grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

The principles of FoE were developed by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, formerly the Policy Center on the First Year of College.

For information on FOE, go to www.fyfoundations.org/overview.aspx. For information on LSCS certificate and degree programs, go to LoneStar.edu.

With more than 75,000 students in credit classes for fall 2011, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.