Mississippi State champions student success as part of inaugural Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience cohort

Contact: Allison Matthews

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University is one of only 11 universities and colleges across the U.S. that are part of a new national initiative, Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience. The institutions are taking on the challenge of redesigning the first two years of college so every student can graduate.

Led by the Gardner Institute, a leading national student success non-profit organization, this initiative is made possible in part through the generous support of Ascendium Education Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ECMC Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation.

The Foundational Postsecondary Experience project aims to transform the critical first two years of college education during which students create the foundation of ultimate success and degree completion. The effort will help institutions focus on inequitable performance gaps and improve student learning and success.

By participating, Mississippi State will closely collaborate with the Gardner Institute and the 10 other institutions in the inaugural cohort over a five-year period to develop innovative strategies, enhance teaching and learning practices, and promote student success and retention. The program will help MSU move toward eliminating demographics, zip codes and other variables as the best predictors of who does or does not succeed.

“Earlier this year, we announced a new strategic plan called Transforming MSU, and we are focused on taking care of what matters, with special attention on student success,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “Our land-grant university mission remains to provide access and opportunity to all sectors of Mississippi’s diverse population, as well as to those from other states and countries. We offer excellent programs of teaching, research and service, and this initiative spearheaded by the Gardner Institute aligns very well with our forward-looking vision for students.

“We are moving ahead in several ways, and one key focus is serving students holistically. We are helping our students thrive through innovative academic programs and memorable experiences, promoting wellness and well-being, and preparing them for fulfilling careers and lifelong learning,” Keenum said.

Gardner Institute CEO Drew Koch said, “We are thrilled to welcome Mississippi State University to the inaugural cohort of Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience. The five-year commitment demonstrates the institution’s dedication to transforming the postsecondary experience for all of their students.”

Koch continued, “This is a bold action. The university clearly recognizes that doing hard things requires long-term commitment, and improving student success in ways that maintain access, eliminate performance gaps, and uphold quality is very hard. But Mississippi State University is committed to doing this hard work. That is why it was selected to take part.”

The 11 participating institutions in the cohort enroll nearly 115,000 undergraduate students. Of these students, 43% receive a Pell Grant and 41% identify as African American, Hispanic, Indigenous, or two or more races. In addition to Mississippi State, the other inaugural cohort institutions include:

Learn more about MSU’s strategic plan, Transforming MSU, at www.msstate.edu/transformation.

For more information about the Gardner Institute and Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience, visit https://gardnerinstitute.org/service/transforming-the-foundational-postsecondary-experience/.

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education is a non-profit that partners with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, and others to help them create and implement strategic plans for student success focused on improving teaching, learning, retention and completion. Through doing so, the institute strives to advance higher education’s larger equity, social mobility and social justice goals.

Mississippi State University is taking care of what matters. Learn more at www.msstate.edu.