Re-Imagining the First Year of College at SOU

Re-Imagining the First Year (RFY) is a project aimed at ensuring success for all students, particularly those who have historically been under served by higher education: low income, first generation, and students of color. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation andUSA Funds, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has created a coalition of 44 member institutions that will work together for three calendar years (2016-18) to develop comprehensive, institutional transformation that redesigns the first year of college and creates sustainable change for student success.

The goal of RFY is to dramatically improve the quality of learning and student experience in the first year, increase retention rates, and improve student success. The RFY project is a groundbreaking collaboration to substantively and sustainably alter the first-year experience for students at participating AASCU institutions.

The first year of college has emerged as the critical barrier to college success, the point at which colleges experience the greatest loss of students. The RFY project recognizes that no single intervention will solve student performance, and that solutions that fail to reflect the differing needs of a changing student body will not be successful. RFY seeks to inspire redesigned approaches that work effectively for all members of an increasingly diverse, multicultural, undergraduate student body, eliminating the achievement disparities that have plagued American higher education for generations. Ultimately, re-designing this critical first year will allow for broader reform of the undergraduate experience in the future.


There are 44 institutions participating in RFY. Southern Oregon University is one of them. Together, we will form a learning community that reviews and shares evidence-based practices, programs and implementation strategies. The RFY initiative entails a comprehensive, “top-down, bottom-up” approach that engages the whole campus in focusing on four key areas to help first-year students succeed:

  • Institutional intentionality,
  • Curriculum redesign,
  • Changes in faculty and staff roles, and
  • Changes in student roles.

Participants will receive extensive support through national meetings, expert webinars, individual consultation, and online resources and tools. The project will build a robust collection of integrated strategies, programs and approaches that participating campuses can adapt to improve student success. The RFY team leaders from each of the 44 participating universities met in Austin, Texas in February 2016 as part of AASCU’s Academic Affairs meeting to formally kick off the project.

For the list of participating institutions, click here.

RFY Project Site at AASCU