Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Sheryl A. Gowen - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca S. Casey - Chair

Third Advisor

Dr. Philo A. Hutcheson - Chair

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Laura R. McNeal


February 2003 was the inauguration of the Foundations of Excellence project with an open invitation to chief academic officers at approximately 900 of both the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) member institutions. The Policy Center on the First Year of College, under the direction of the Executive Director, John N. Gardner, invited the various campuses to develop standards and guidelines for the first year, which were termed as Foundational Dimensions or simply Dimensions. As a result, over 200 member institutions agreed to participate in the project by establishing campus-wide task forces to look at the initial list of six Dimensions developed by the Policy Center and Penn State research partners. These Dimensions were designed to be essential characteristics of institutional effectiveness in promoting the learning and success of every first-year student. This is a case study of one of the founding institutions of the Foundations of Excellence endeavor, Public State University (PSU). In particular, this study utilizes the Foundations of Excellence Dimensions Statements as a basis to assess Public State University’s first-year experience collaboration efforts. Furthermore, this research is specifically grounded in the 2nd Dimensions Statement of the Foundations of Excellence, looking at what the Public State University first-year experience program looks like through academic affairs and student affairs collaborative partnerships. This study specifically examines PSU’s established partnerships within the First Year Orientation and Advising Committee (FYOAC) and the University College Advisory Council (UCAC) and determines what participants mean by collaboration. Through the use of a rubric, the analysis of the data resulted in a significant finding in reference to collaboration literature. The findings indicated that the literature on academic and student affairs collaboration should include information on institutional culture and investigate whether the underpinnings of institutional culture are actually social systems that are inextricably tied to their external environments, which in turn have a direct impact on foundational benchmarks on collaboration for First-Year Experience programs. Implications of this study’s results are addressed, limitations of this study are discussed, and recommendations for future research are given.