In 2002, the Policy Center on the First Year of College (supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and Lumina Foundation for Education) sponsored a project to recognize colleges and universities as 'Institutions of Excellence' in their design and execution of the first year. Thirteen colleges and universities representing a broad spectrum of campus types - were selected as exceptional institutions that place a high priority on the first-year experience. Achieving and Sustaining Excellence in the First Year of College includes case studies of each of the thirteen exemplary institutions. These studies illustrate and analyze the colleges´ best practices in teaching, assessing, and retaining first-year college students. The individual case studies offer lessons learned and have broad potential application beyond the particular type of institution represented.