The key to any effective program is that it is based on good and regular research and evaluation. To that end, the Office for First Year Resources, in cooperation with the Nazareth Institutional Research Department, regularly conducts research on the first year experience through student interviews as well as in the administration of surveys that measure different aspects of the student experience: learning; co-curricular involvement; relationships with students, faculty and staff; and experience with various college services.
In 2003, Nazareth College was selected from a national pool of colleges to participate in the "Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year" program. The project is a collaboration of the Policy Center for the First Year of College, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) as well as their partners at Pennsylvania State University's Center for the Study of Higher Education, Bentley College, and Marietta College.
Funded by Lumina Foundation for Education and The Atlantic Philanthropies, the project, begun in February 2003, has designed a model for the first college year to which colleges and universities may aspire and against which they may measure their achievements. Nazareth, in addition to 11 other CIC institutions, was named a Founding Institution in a competitive process involving 54 applicants.
The links below further describe the Foundations project, its process and time line.
In addition to "The Foundations of Excellence" project, there are other national agencies engaging in research on behalf of the first year student, as well as other projects focusing on different populations of students in transition. The National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition contains a plethora of references to research, as well as citations of scholarly work focusing on the first year experience.