Foundations of Excellence

During 2016-2017, San Francisco State University conducted the Foundations of Excellence (FoE) first-year self-study. Faculty and staff from  Academic Affairs and Student Affairs & Enrollment Management provided input throughout the duration of the academic year to determine the barriers to success for our first-year students. 

Their key recommendations fell into various categories: Academic and Social Engagement, Advising and Mentoring, Sense of Belonging, Organizational Structures and Bureaucracy, Communications and Professional Development for Faculty and Staff.  Among the high priority recommendations, the FoE steering committee recommended the institutionalizing of the first year experience collaboratively between Academic Affairs and SAEM.  In addition, this institutionalization of the first year experience is also part of efforts in terms of the campus Student Success and Graduation Initiative 2025.


Amongst the high priority recommendations, the steering committee identified the following twelve as the highest priority recommendations:

  1. A first year faculty director from Academic Affairs and a first year director from Student Affairs should be appointed/hired.
  2. The Academic Senate should create a first year experience steering committee consisting of campus members from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and Associated Students. This committee should be chaired by the First Year Director from Student Affairs and the Faculty Director from Academic Affairs.
  3. The Academic Senate should pass a resolution supporting a campus philosophy for the first year which aligns with our mission.
  4. A first year peer-mentoring program should be developed and supported financially.
  5. An assessment plan should accompany any new FYE project.
  6. All first year students should take a first year seminar. The FY Steering committee should investigate various models for such a seminar and make recommendations to the Academic Senate on the requirements for such a course.
  7. New student orientation should be accessible for all incoming freshmen, in either an in person or virtual format.
  8. A communications plan for first year students and their families should be created.
  9. The University should recognize and reward excellence in FY teaching. First year courses should  be desirable teaching assignments that are sought after by excellent teachers.
  10. Professional Development should be made available for all faculty and staff who regularly  interact with first year students.
  11. The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) should provide specific programming around engagement of first year students in the classroom.
  12. The University must find ways to engage students outside the classroom. The academic and Nonacademic aspects of student life must be integrated.


Read the complete Foundations of Excellence Report here

Visit the FYE webpage for information on First Year Experience at San Francisco State.