University’s NevadaFIT wins award from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Boot camp-style course for first-year students introduces freshmen to rigor, preparedness necessary to succeed in college

Students in blue shirts with food plates in hand walk through the Gateway plaza on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

After a one-year hiatus, the 2021 NevadaFIT session will be held between Sunday, August 15 and Friday, August 20, 2021. Photo taken during the 2019 NevadaFIT program.

University’s NevadaFIT wins award from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Boot camp-style course for first-year students introduces freshmen to rigor, preparedness necessary to succeed in college

After a one-year hiatus, the 2021 NevadaFIT session will be held between Sunday, August 15 and Friday, August 20, 2021. Photo taken during the 2019 NevadaFIT program.

Students in blue shirts with food plates in hand walk through the Gateway plaza on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

After a one-year hiatus, the 2021 NevadaFIT session will be held between Sunday, August 15 and Friday, August 20, 2021. Photo taken during the 2019 NevadaFIT program.

Announced nationally this week, the University of Nevada, Reno was recognized for its innovative one-credit course designed to better prepare first-year students for the rigors of college life. 

NevadaFIT (which stands for “Freshman Intensive Transition”) is a winning submission in this year’s Academic Leaders Toolkit. The toolkit, a joint project of two of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s (WICHE) membership networks, the Western Academic Leadership Forum (Forum) and the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (Alliance), is a peer-reviewed repository of programs and practices that have been successfully deployed in postsecondary institutions around the West.

“The demonstrated success of NevadaFIT in preparing students to manage and overcome academic and structural challenges is invaluable,” Veronica Dujon, vice-chair of the Forum and the director of the Office of Academic Policy and Authorization for the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, said. “This initiative is particularly worthy of recognition as institutions attempt to address the adverse and inequitable consequences of the pandemic. NevadaFIT is an outstanding and inspiring investment in students.” 

NevadaFIT is modeled after a program at Louisiana State University which has been replicated at over 30 universities nationwide and received national acclaim for its focus on student success from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Established in 2013 with 48 biology students, NevadaFIT has since expanded to 3,600 students across all majors and will be a required class for all incoming first-year students starting in Fall 2021. 

University of Nevada, Reno students participate in NevadaFIT the week prior to the start of the fall semester. During that time, they attend skill sessions about notetaking, study tools, financial literacy and mindfulness. They also experience a rigorous core class with lectures, exams and homework, so they get a sense of the real-life demands and expectations of attending college. Upper-class students serve as mentors throughout the week to provide support.

Felicia DeWald holds Colleagues' Choice Award
Felicia DeWald, NevadaFIT director, holds the Colleagues' Choice Award, presented to the NevadaFIT program by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

“NevadaFIT increases retention and graduation rates for participants, especially for first-generation students, students of color, and students from low-income backgrounds,” Felicia DeWald, the University’s NevadaFIT director, said. “The success of NevadaFIT has been the direct result of enthusiastic support by deans, faculty, academic advisors, and student services. We are thrilled that NevadaFIT is now part of the institutional fabric of our University experience.” 

Forum members are academic leaders at four-year colleges and chief executives and chief executive officers of systems and state-coordinating and governing boards within the WICHE region. A selection committee from the Forum annually selects a winning tool to be recognized for their contribution to the higher education community. 

Organized along dozens of topic categories – from quality assurance to workforce training, from student advising to community engagement – the Academic Leaders Toolkit is a resource for college and university academic leaders to make prudent decisions, develop new initiatives, build upon efficiencies and peer expertise, and better support their students and institutions. 


ABOUT WICHE
Since 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been strengthening higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the region. As an interstate compact, WICHE partners with states, territories, and postsecondary institutions to share knowledge, create resources, and develop innovative solutions that address some of our society’s most pressing needs. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states get the most from their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. 

ABOUT THE FORUM
The Western Academic Leadership Forum provides a dynamic network of academic leaders a chance to build stronger four-year higher education institutions in the West. Network members include academic leaders at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral institutions; and chief executives and chief executive officers of systems and state coordinating and governing boards. Network members exchange ideas and information, share resources and expertise, and collaborate on regional initiatives.

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