Simmons University Receives First-gen Forward Designation

Posted By Eva Diaz - 03/04/2020

Boston, MA (March 3, 2020) — Simmons University announced today that it has received First-gen Forward Designation in recognition of its commitment to first generation student success.

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, recently announced their 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward Institutions. The First-gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education who have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources. 

“The Center is so pleased to welcome Simmons University into the 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward institutions. Through the application process, it was evident that Simmons University is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. 

Simmons University has developed a five-year plan and implemented a variety of resources to support first generation students. This includes First to FINish, a mentoring program that matches first generation students with first-gen faculty, staff and alumnae/i.  The institution also collaborates with the Colleges of the Fenway Consortium, spearheading an effort to build a leadership team that is committed to advocating for first generation college students at each respective institution. In addition, Simmons and four College of the Fenway institutions collaborated on a National First Gen Celebration event to engage and celebrate these students. First to FINish also hosts a variety of on-campus events that support first generation students and foster a sense of pride within this community.

“Simmons University has set an ambitious goal of becoming the most inclusive campus in New England, and supporting first generation students is a crucial part of this mission,” said Caleb Bae, Academic Advisor and First to FINish Program Coordinator at Simmons University.  “We have more than four hundred students who identify as first generation, and those numbers will continue to grow with next year’s incoming class. We’re committed to supporting these dedicated students and are excited to become part of the First-gen Forward community.”

As a First-gen Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First-gen Forward Workshop to be held in Baltimore in June and will participate in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting, and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory leadership designation. 

“The 2020-21 First-gen Forward cohort demonstrates a national movement of two- and four-year institutions dedicated to advancing the success of first-generation students; redefining student success as a movement. We commend Simmons University for their already strong contribution and look forward to engaging more at the First-gen Forward Workshop and throughout their participation,” offered Dr. Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA.

Visit the Center for First-generation Student Success to learn more

Read original release here