Global recognition for first-year programs

First-year programs
Professors from two universities in Japan spent a day learning about first-year programs in University College.


International visitors learn from Kennesaw State’s success

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 20, 2017) — Kennesaw State University’s Department of First-Year and Transition Studies consistently is recognized as one of the best in the country. Now the department is receiving international recognition as well.

Professors from two universities in Japan spent a day at Kennesaw State learning about the first-year programs in University College. It was the second such meeting in as many weeks, after four representatives from Qatar University were given an overview of First-Year and Transition Studies as part of a visit hosted by KSU’s Division of Student Affairs.

“It’s remarkable that we have such a strong global presence,” said Nirmal Trivedi, director of first-year seminars at Kennesaw State. “It’s a testament to the incredibly hard work that many people have put into this program to show that it’s not limited to a regional identity, but it’s absolutely something that is relevant to all student experiences around the world.”

Tateo Hashimoto, vice president of Nagasaki International University, and Yukari Hashimoto, a professor at the University of Nagasaki, met with First-Year and Transition Studies faculty and staff and visited the first-year seminar centered on leadership development taught by Linda Lyons. First-year programs help students build the foundation to succeed academically, socially and personally at Kennesaw State, which enables the University to retain a higher number of students from their first year of college to the second year.

“We have data showing that students who are successful in the first-year seminar are more likely to be successful at Kennesaw State,” said Lynn Stallings, interim dean of University College. “From talking with the faculty, our visitors from Japan saw the commitment we have to first-year seminars and to the success of our students. Then from visiting a class, they experienced the excellent teaching and the student engagement that are characteristic of the seminars.”

Yukari Hashimoto is experiencing the exact opposite at her university, which is why she wants to learn from KSU’s success. She said that the University of Nagasaki began offering a first-year seminar last year but it has not been embraced, particularly by faculty members, nearly the way Kennesaw State’s program has.

“So many faculty here commit to the program and have a passion for it, but we don’t have that right now,” she said. “I met very education-oriented faculty and very dedicated students, and I was impressed by the students’ presentation. I had been to a few first-year seminars before I went to Kennesaw State, and I think the Kennesaw students’ performance was the best.”

Kennesaw State is one of 44 universities – and the only one in Georgia – selected by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities for Re-Imagining the First Year of College, a national initiative to set the course for first-year success among college students, especially low-income, first-generation and minority students. Also, Kennesaw State’s first-year programs have been ranked among the nation’s best in 13 of the past 14 years by U.S. News and World Report, and the nationally recognized Thrive program helps qualified incoming first-year students to maintain HOPE scholarship.

Kennesaw State’s first-year seminar has grown steadily since its inception in 1983 under then-President Betty Siegel. In the current academic year, approximately 4,200 students took one of 180 seminar sections taught by about 100 faculty members on the Kennesaw Campus, Marietta Campus or online.

“We have University support across the board – top down, bottom up, everywhere, everybody feels and knows that this is such an important part of every student’s experience,” Trivedi said. “Once you have set up a structure and then you cultivate it year after year and build it, you end up with something that is truly international in scope and reputation.”


— Paul Floeckher

Photo by David Caselli


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit