Initiative aims to improve transfer experience

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Dr. David Wood, dean of performance excellence, talks about the history of Foundations of Excellence and its mission on Wednesday. He detailed the six action items in the implementation phase.   Raquel Estrada

Dr. David Wood, dean of performance excellence, talks about the history of Foundations of Excellence and its mission on Wednesday. He detailed the six action items in the implementation phase. Raquel Estrada

Volunteers are needed for Phase 2 of Foundations of Excellence.

By Emily Rodriguez

erodriguez734@student.alamo.edu

Despite an $18 million capital improvements project to improve Moody Learning Center, especially the library floors and basement level, the transfer center may be relocated from the basement level to make it more visible to students.

This is one of six recommendations from the Foundations of Excellence Task Force, which sponsored a celebration Wednesday in the visual arts center to mark the implementation of Phase 2 of “From the Ground Up,” an initiative to improve the overall transfer experience for students.

Vanessa Torres, director of public relations, said that the recommendations could take three to five years to reach full implementation, so the location and process of moving the transfer center have not been decided.

The Foundations of Excellence is an employee-led, two-year study funded by a grant from the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.

The district funded the first year of the initiative; the college will fund the second. The cost for each year is $32,950.

“This is something that we chose to do, and it’s something that we studied ourselves in a very candid and honest way,” President Robert Zeigler said. “Recommendations that come out of this — we can choose to implement those recommendations or not. This has been something that I think is very valuable and worthwhile.”

More than 100 members made up nine committees that consisted of faculty, staff and students from this college as well as representatives from University of Texas at San Antonio to develop recommendations based on the study.

Out of the 267 institutions that have participated in studies sponsored by the Gardner institute in 11 years, only 50 chose to focus on the transfer process.

Any study at the institute can focus on either the first year in college experience or the transfer environment.

Dr. David Wood, dean of performance excellence, said, “In 1925, we were founded as an institution whose primary responsibility was transfer. Somewhere along the way as an institution, we took for granted that our students were transferring. When we look at numbers and see that we have a 21 percent transfer rate, we had to act.”

Phase 1 consisted of a self-study identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the transfer experience for students.

Phase 2 will implement the six action items identified by the study.

The six action items are to:

• redesign and relocate the transfer center,

• train faculty advisers and create a handbook for them to follow,

• identify and track transfer-bound students,

• create a handbook for transfer-bound students,

• redesign Banner to utilize Alamo GPS for the two-plus-two degree plans for the 10 largest receiving institutions for transfer-bound students, and

• improve communication between faculty, students, counselors, the transfer center and four-year institutions.

Gardner recorded a YouTube video commending the work of the task force and shared the report with another college to assist them with their own study.

“These folks contributed to a final report that is as fine a piece of work as I have seen in the 11 years that we’ve been doing the Foundations of Excellence,” Gardner said in the video.

The video can be viewed at http://youtu.be/mY_fGIPuIMQ.

There are three target deadlines the task force hopes to reach.

By Dec. 1, a plan for each action item should be developed.

March 1, an action plan will be worked on and updates for the initiative will be provided.

Finally, by June 1, the team will continue to work and provide recommendations for subsequent years to maintain the purpose of the initiative going.

Volunteers are needed for the Foundations of Excellence implementation team.

To join, email Mona Aldana-Ramirez, Foundations of Excellence liaison, at maldana-ramirez@alamo.edu.

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