Lehman College FYI Program Wins Prestigious ‘Best Practices’ Award

Lehman College’s Freshman Year Initiative Program (FYI) has received the 2015 Best Practices in Student Retention Award from the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE) at the University of Oklahoma. The award recognizes the Lehman program as a national model for its system-wide approach to the institution’s retention issues—rates for first-year students at the College reached 83.4 percent, which is 20 percent higher than the national average.

Steven Wyckoff, director of the FYI Program and English Composition at the College, was invited to present his paper, along with his assistant Zenaida Bough, titled “Third-Semester Retention Success: Lehman College’s Freshman Year Initiative Program,” at the Consortium’s National Symposium on Student Retention. More than 115 presentations were given this year, including 69 peer-reviewed papers. More than 450 participants attended the conference from 229 institutions in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia.

Steven Wyckoff presenting his paper, "Third-Semester Retention Success: Lehman College's Freshman Year Initiative Program," at the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange at the University of Oklahoma's annual symposium.

Founded by Steven Wyckoff in 1992, Lehman’s FYI program was the first of its kind at the City University of New York. Wyckoff was charged with creating a program that would engage incoming students while addressing the high attrition rate, which at the time was at 51 percent.

Central to the FYI program is the creation of an interdisciplinary experience for freshmen. The goal of the program was to bond the students to each other, the faculty, and ultimately the College. It worked. By the second year of the program, retention had climbed to 71 percent, and other CUNY colleges were following suit.

“The Program represents comprehensive intervention in every aspect of the student’s experience in the first year,” explains Wyckoff. “It embraces academic, social, and humanistic concerns. Our interdisciplinary approach is the product of linked courses and faculty collaboration across disciplinary lines.”

In 2002, Lehman’s FYI program won its first national recognition, and distinguished Lehman as an Institution of Excellence in the First Year of College, an award given by the Policy Center on the First Year, a national research organization.