“As an archetypal student success higher-educator myself, I did not enter this profession intentionally….But my life experiences did prepare me to be very successful at this work. So, what are those experiences, and types of knowledge, insight, skills that equip one to do this kind of work? This book is about encouraging the next generation of successors to use their experiences to become equity warriors within the system.”
- John N. Gardner
This book argues that today more than ever we need new and more student success leaders to step forward to make the changes that students need, and it offers the story of one such leader in the belief that it will help others see how they can make their own contribution to this movement. The author relates a story about events and individuals that launched a national and international movement to enable many more college students to proceed beyond the beginning college experience and complete the credential they are seeking. It is also the author’s personal history – how he ended up spending his whole life in college, and how college can make us wiser and more successful than when we started the journey.
John Gardner brings 55 years of professional experience to telling this story. He begins with the story of how colleges can and do introduce students to life changing perspectives and ideas. In Gardner’s case it was a matter of being introduced to the question: “what is justice?” and then spending his entire professional life seeking ways to bring justice to underserved college students by making changes from the inside of the higher education system.
An on-line compendium accompanies this book, which includes prompts for guided reflection and questions and topics for discussion, as well as additional material on the author’s background and personal philosophy.
“This book captivates readers with this unusual, heartfelt, life-changing adventure of my colleague and dear friend, John Gardner who is without a doubt higher education’s ‘Man of La Mancha.’ The story of this author’s life's ‘crusade’ for students who are underserved and inequitably treated as they pursue dreams of a better life with a college diploma is a touching tale that will stir hearts and minds with a tantalizing fascination to join in the Crusade. I certainly couldn’t resist.”
Entrepreneur, Investor and John N Gardner Institute Fellow
“Behind all successful leading-edge ideas is the vision of a genius, and this is ever so evident in John N. Gardner’s authentic account of his journey in college and the military. In this one-of-a-kind memoir, he recounts epiphanous moments in his life including the people and events that inspired him to create some of higher education’s most impactful innovations, chief among them what is known as ‘the first-year experience.’ If you are a champion of student success I believe my friend and colleague, John, would want you to read his book to reflect on your own life journey, your own epiphanies and allow these learnings to inspire creative ideas about how to positively impact all students especially those who are first-generation, low-income and racially minoritized. And then, take transformative action to become an equity warrior and to fashion the next generation of the American student success movement. My own hope is to honor John’s legacy in this profound fashion.”
Laura I. Rendón
author of Sentipensante Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice and Liberation, Second Edition, Stylus
“John N. Gardner’s Launching the First-Year Experience Movement is a must-read for anyone interested in the field of student success. Gardner, one of higher education’s leading scholars and thinkers, offers a wealth of insight and wisdom in this delightful and insightful memoir. Through his own experiences as a higher education leader and innovator, Gardner provides a unique and important case study of how to effectively make a difference in our field.”
Director, University 101 Programs, University of South Carolina
"Tools to network more effectively, including an orientation CD giving the Formula for Success" in BNI, a badge, a vinyl card holder to carry."