Dr. John N. Gardner is an educator, university professor and administrator, non-profit organization chief executive officer, author, editor, public speaker, consultant, change agent, student retention specialist, first-year and transfer students' advocate, and initiator and scholar of the American first-year and senior-year reform movements. He serves as the President of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. The Institute, based in Brevard, N.C., was founded by John and his wife, Dr. Betsy O. Barefoot, in October 1999 as the Policy Center on the First Year of College. It was later renamed to the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.
John is also the Senior Fellow of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. Gardner "retired" in 1999 after 32.5 years of service to the people of South Carolina, but continues to serve them in a reduced and more focused way in his role of Senior Fellow (in addition to his full-time appointment in the Institute). Gardner is the recipient of numerous local and national professional awards including USC's highest award for teaching excellence, the AMOCO Award for Outstanding Teaching (1975), and the Division of Student Affairs Faculty Award "for outstanding contributions…" (1976). In addition to numerous other awards, Dr. Gardner has authored/co-authored many articles and books, including: College is Only the Beginning; Step by Step to College Success; Achieving and Sustaining Institutional Excellence for the First Year of College; and more.
John is married to his professional partner of twenty-five years, Dr. Betsy O. Barefoot.
Dr. Betsy O. Barefoot is a native of North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Duke University and Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Higher Education from the College of William and Mary. Currently, Dr. Barefoot serves as Vice President for the John N. Gardner Institute.
Prior to assuming this position in 1999, Dr. Barefoot served for 11 years as Co-Director for Research and Publications in the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Barefoot has also authored and co-authored a number of publications including the 2005 Jossey-Bass books, Achieving and Sustaining Institutional Excellence for the First Year of College, and Challenging and Supporting the First-Year Student: A Handbook for the First Year of College. She has also edited The First Year and Beyond: Rethinking the Challenge of Collegiate Transition, a 2008 volume of New Directions for Higher Education. Dr. Barefoot continues her interest in music as an occasional vocal performer, pianist, and church organist.
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