Chartered in 1986, the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina is an outgrowth and extension of the University 101 first-year seminar. The course began at USC in 1972 with 239 freshman volunteers and was made an official course two years later. President Thomas Jones used a portion of a Ford Foundation grant to improve undergraduate teaching to support the development of the University 101 program.
The original course focused on three main areas: the meaning of higher education, students’ roles at the university, and the university’s resources and support services. The program was initially led by J. Manning Hiers. John N. Gardner from 1974 until his retirement in 1999. By the 1974–1975 academic year, University 101 was enrolling almost thirteen hundred freshmen in more than sixty sections of the course. In addition to the course, the program also included an extensive instructor training program. Research conducted at USC and across the country has found that University 101 courses can contribute significantly to student retention from their freshman to sophomore years.
By the 1980s USC was recognized as a national leader in the University 101 movement. USC began sponsoring conferences in 1982 to bring together representatives from institutions across the country to discuss these programs. The National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition was a further outgrowth of this leadership and coordinates national and international conferences as well as publications including a monograph series and the Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.
Lesesne, Henry H. A History of the University of South Carolina, 1940–2000. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001.
Upcraft, M. Lee, John N. Gardner, and Associates. The Freshman Year Experience: Helping Students Survive and Succeed in College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989.