Mary Baldwin University Partners with Gardner Institute to Enhance Student Success and Equity

MBU’s new partnership with this prestigious institution seeks to assess the strength of the first two years of student experience and ensure their efficacy at retaining and inspiring students.

In a move reflecting its deep commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive educational environment, Mary Baldwin University is proud to announce its collaboration with the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. This partnership involves a five-year process to transform the foundational postsecondary experience, focusing on the pivotal first two years of college life, aiming to substantially elevate student retention, success, and equity.

MBU’s decision to join the Gardner Institute’s Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience™ initiative is a step towards enhancing its educational framework; it is a leap towards realizing a broader vision of creating a more equitable and successful future for all students. With a student body composition of 40% first-generation college students, 50% students of color, and 60% low-income students, MBU embodies the diversity and challenges that the initiative seeks to address.

The university finds itself in good company, joining the ranks of other institutions like Mississippi State University, Purdue University Global, and Columbia College of Chicago in the Transformation Process’ first cohort. This select group of institutions shares a common goal: to revolutionize higher education by focusing on the critical initial years that often determine a student’s success in their academic journey.

Under the guidance of the Gardner Institute, MBU will develop and implement a bespoke plan aimed at enhancing the first two years of the undergraduate experience. This plan is about fundamentally transforming how students engage with their education from the moment they step onto campus.

Provost Dr. Paul Menzer highlighted the importance of this initiative, stating, “Gardner’s Transforming Initiative will amplify our efforts to increase student success at Mary Baldwin, contributing to our culture of innovative teaching and learning. As a member of the Gardner Institute’s Transformation Process cohort, MBU is eager to assess our current approaches, learn from other members of our cohort, and take a leap forward in helping our students learn and grow.”

“MBU is eager to assess our current approaches, learn from other members of our cohort, and take a leap forward in helping our students learn and grow.”

Dr. Paul Menzer, provost

The partnership also addresses a critical challenge in higher education: the inequitable influence of demographics, socioeconomic background, and zip code on student success. By focusing on improving student outcomes, the initiative seeks to eliminate these factors as predictors of graduation, moving towards a more equitable and just educational landscape.

Funding for this ambitious collaboration comes from several notable sources, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ECMC Foundation, Ascendium, and the Kresge Foundation. These organizations lend not only financial support but also a shared vision for transforming higher education into a more inclusive, equitable, and successful experience for all students.

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, known for its dedication to enhancing teaching, learning, retention, and completion in higher education, serves as an ideal partner for MBU. Together, they aspire to contribute significantly to higher education’s larger goals of achieving equity and social justice.

For more information about the exciting partnerships and developments at Mary Baldwin University, visit the university’s strategic planning page and keep up with news on social media and our monthly newsletters.