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Cornell University

First-Year Sophomore Experience

The First-Year and Sophomore Experience (FYSE) Collaborative Committee was established with representatives from different units across the university to develop learning goals and priorities for the shared first- and second-year experience and suggest a general direction for best practices, content, and assessment.


The Committee reviews and provides suggestions in various facets of the university’s first- and second-year shared experiences, including: residential experience, orientation, first-year seminars, advising. As part of its work, the Committee will consult with various stakeholders and experts to recommend to the executive sponsors specific learning goals and priorities for the components of the first- and second-year experience.


The Committee was convened by Jenny Loeffelman, Assistant Vice President, Student & Campus Life (on behalf of Student & Campus Life), and Lisa Nishii, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (on behalf of the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education). The Committee is comprised of representatives from across the university to ensure broad collaboration, and it engages in substantial outreach to ensure adequate input from all individuals who have an important role and/or expertise in the FYSE.


Abby Priehs Director, Residential Life, Housing & Residential Life 
Adi Grabiner-Keinan Executive Director for Academic DEI Education and Director and Senior Lecturer, Intergroup Dialogue Project 
Kevin Perry Director, Tatkon Center for New Students 
Ethan Stephenson Director, Faculty Living-Learning Programs 

Committee Members

Bonnie Comella Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education 
Perdita Das-Humphrey House Assistant Dean, Hans Bethe House 
Julie Edwards Director, Skorton Center for Health Initiatives 
Amy Godert Director, Learning Strategies Center, and Executive Director for Academic Student Success Programs 
Andrew 'Drew' Hicks House Professor-Dean, Hans Bethe House, and Associate Professor, Music and Medieval Studies 
Cortney Johnson Associate Dean of Students and Director of the LGBT Resource Center 
Erica Kryst Executive Director, Cornell Career Services 
Lori Leonard House Professor-Dean, Carl Becker House and Professor & Chair, Global Development 
Brandee Nicholson Assistant Director, Housing & Residential Life 
Andrea Poag Director of Student Services, SC Johnson College of Business 
Kyle Schillace Associate Director, Campus Activities  

In consultation with multiple stakeholder groups and after conducting a thorough review of the literature, the FYSE Collaborative Committee developed an educational framework that aims to advance students’ development in four key areas:

  • Agency: The capacity to exercise control over the nature and quality of one’s life. Human agency is characterized by the power to originate actions for specific purposes; the ability to set goals, anticipate consequences of actions, and create courses of actions to achieve goals; self-regulation through self-monitoring and self-guidance; and self-reflectiveness about one’s capabilities, quality of functioning, and the meaning and purpose of one’s life pursuits (Bandura, 2023).
  • Connection: This area recognizes the importance of developing human connection with self and others to address the crisis of connection in our society and on campus. Aiming to develop a greater understanding of our common humanity, this area emphasizes two crucial dimensions of human connection – the advancement of self-exploration and self-awareness, and the fostering of connectedness within and across groups (Murthy, 2021; Office of the Surgeon General, 2023; Way et al., 2018). Moreover, it advances the assumption that individuals who demonstrate awareness of themselves in relation to others are more effective in contributing to the creation of open and inclusive communities and are better prepared to live, work, and lead in an increasingly interconnected, diverse world.
  • Purpose: Purpose is defined as “a central, self-organizing life aim that organizes and stimulates goals, manages behaviors, and provides a sense of meaning” (McKnight & Kashdan, 2009 p. 242). A key assumption is that purpose is never fully arrived at or accomplished by first-year students (or any of us), but that the active exploration and cultivation of purpose is critical in helping students develop their direction, passions, and connection with self.
  • Curiosity: Intellectual humility involves understanding the possibility that you may be wrong or may not have all the answers, and being open to asking questions, learning in different ways, being curious about what you don’t know, and seeking out alternative views. Cultural humility is based on a sense of accountability, which differs from a sense of mastery. Accountability entails a commitment to active, ongoing, and responsible self-reflection, as well as a continued willingness to learn about others’ lived experiences, while recognizing inequities associated with them (Krumrei-Mancuso, Haggard, LaBouff, and Rowatt, 2020; Resnick, 2019; Shim and Perez, 2018).


Bandura, A. (2023). Social Cognitive Theory: An agentic perspective on human nature. New Jersey: Wiley & Sons.

Krumrei-Mancuso, E. J., Haggard, M. C., LaBouff, J. P., & Rowatt, W. C. (2020). Links between Intellectual Humility and Acquiring Knowledge. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 15, 155-170.

McKnight, P. E., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009). Purpose in Life as a System that Creates and Sustains Health and Well-Being: An Integrative, Testable Theory. Review of General Psychology, 13(3), 242-251.

Murthy, V. (2020). Together: The healing power of human connection. New York, NY: Harper Collins 

Resnick, B. (2019, January 4). Intellectual humility: The importance of knowing you might be wrong. Vox 

Shim, W. jeong, & Perez, R. J. (2018). A Multi-Level Examination of First-year Students’ Openness to Diversity and Challenge. The Journal of Higher Education, 89(4), 453–477. 

Way, N., Ali, A., Gilligan, C., & Noguera, P. (Eds.). (2018). The Crisis of Connection: Roots, Consequences, and Solutions. NYU Press