Colorado State recognized for leadership in first-generation student success

Colorado State University has been selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the First Forward effort to advance the success of first-generation college students nationwide.

First Forward logoNASPA, the national professional organization for student affairs administrators in higher education, created First Forward as part of its Center for First-generation Student Success and announced the 80 institutions in the 2019-20 cohort May 1.

“In continuing with the Center’s mission of being the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students, we launched First Forward, the nation’s first recognition program acknowledging higher education institutions for their commitment to first-generation student success,” according to Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA.

CSU has been dedicated for decades to the success of students who are the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree, according to Shannon Archibeque-Engle, assistant vice president of Strategic Initiatives and Assessment in the Office of the Vice President for Diversity who also chairs the First Generation University Initiative. The University was the first in the nation to offer scholarships specifically for first-generation students and has long involved faculty who were themselves first-gen in efforts to support and mentor students.

Long-standing commitment

“Being named a First Forward institution recognizes Colorado State University’s long-standing commitment to first-generation students and the work of folks like Barb Musselwhite, Paul Thayer, Oscar Felix, and Mary Ontiveros,” Archibeque-Engle said. “It is also an opportunity for us to build upon our history and intentionally focus on our most marginalized students as part of our Student Success Initiatives and the First Generation University Initiative.”

In addition to such university-wide initiatives, CSU’s inclusion in First Forward also recognizes the work of researchers such as Eric Ishiwata, his students and colleagues, with high school students in Fort Morgan, a small town on the Eastern Plains of Colorado.

NASPA established the Center for First-generation Student Success in June 2017 as a joint initiative with the Suder Foundation. Oscar Felix from the CSU Office of the VP for Diversity was among the featured speakers at the Center’s launch in the nation’s capital in January 2018.

“The Suder Foundation collaboration with NASPA has spawned an inspiring and empowered national center,” said Associate Provost Steven Dandaneau. “CSU is proud to contribute to this cutting-edge, collaborative national effort as part of the First Forward program.”

The inaugural gathering of the First Forward institutions will be held in June as part of NASPA’s  First-Generation Student Success Conference.

Deb and Eric Suder with banner

Deb and Eric Suder of The Suder Foundation at the
launch of NASPA’s Center for First-Generation
Student Success in January 2018.