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Lehigh to host expert on first year experience

John Gardner

John Gardner, the renowned educator who is considered the “father of the first year experience,” will come to campus for a visit Oct. 4-6 to meet with faculty and staff and discuss a proposed first year experience course.

Gardner’s visit to campus was planned by the First Year Experience Front Runner Group, which is an outgrowth of the university’s strategic plan. The group has been working for nearly a year to develop a pilot first year experience course that will be offered to a group of 200 students next fall. Current plans are for the program to be open to all first year students for the Fall 2013 semester.

During his visit, Gardner will meet with groups of faculty and staff and host an open afternoon symposium from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, in Lamberton Hall. The symposium will include an overview of the proposed pilot course by the members of the working group, and two panel discussions.

The first panel will focus on the contemporary student and his or her pressing interpersonal, social and emotional needs. The second will include reflections from Lehigh faculty about the intellectual needs of first years and how a shared course experience can better prepare Lehigh students for academic and professional success.

Following Gardner’s visit, an invitation will go out to faculty to encourage submission of a course proposal that could be part of the Fall 2012 semester FYE pilot course.

For more than three decades, Gardner’s focus has been on the creation of programs to enhance the learning, success, retention and graduation of students in transition, particularly first year students. Most recently, he has worked almost exclusively with institutions to help them look beyond a traditional programmatic approach, and to focus on shared learning experiences of first years.

A Senior Fellow of the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and  president of the Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, Gardner has authored numerous books on this topic, has trained educators through hundreds of faculty development events, and has spoken at and consulted with more than 500 campuses across the globe.

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011

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