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Expand successful programs such as the Texas Interdisciplinary Program Scholars, college-readiness programs, and freshman learning communities.


LEAD: Dr. David Vanden Bout, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education


Every incoming student in the College of Natural Sciences is now a member of a small learning community. The CNS Cornerstones Program leverages best practices from our successful programs – elements such as linked courses, small cohorts, weekly meetings, and academic skills curriculum – to help all students, including transfer students, transition to a successful first year in the College.  The Texas Interdisciplinary Plan has grown to serve 500 students each year. An innovative new honors program, Polymathic Scholars, allows our students to pursue independent research in areas of study that occur at the intersections of academic disciplines.  To increase college-readiness in mathematics, the College has established a new calculus placement assessment that is being implemented university-wide to increase the likelihood that students will successfully prepare for and complete their first calculus course on campus. The impact of these college-readiness initiatives is already being felt, with an all-time-low academic probation rate of 3% for the freshman class.

In 2015-16, a career exploration curriculum was integrated into the CNS Cornerstones Program to highlight the importance of career planning early in students' academic careers. The College developed a website for students that identifies career-planning check points for all four years and offers key resources for each stage of their career exploration journey. We also expanded capacity in the Biology Scholars Program, Women in Natural Sciences, and all three Honors programs which are now at capacity.  


  • Students will have successful outcomes in calculus, manifested by reduced drop and failure rates and higher proportions completing their calculus sequences.
  • Student and College academic success measures will remain high or improve.
  • Students will identify how small academic communities have benefitted their academic careers.



The College:

  • tracks student outcomes in calculus
  • tracks academic probation rates as an indicator of future academic success
  • tracks retention and time-to-degree, both for freshmen and transfer students
  • tracks student outcomes in specific academic support programs
  • assesses value of the Cornerstones program to students through student surveys


  • We are involving student organizations, career services, and department faculty and advisors to construct a community of majors within each department.
  • We are developing a college-readiness program with the Department of Physics.