Oregon State University has been named as part of the 2021-22 First-gen Forward cohort by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and The Suder Foundation.

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 universities selected have demonstrated that they are taking steps to serve first-generation students and are employing strategies that foster an environment of success for those students. First-gen Forward supports more than 200 institutions across three cohorts.

“As the state’s land grant institution, OSU has always been a destination for first-generation students from both rural and urban parts of the state,” said  Janet Nishihara, executive director of the Educational Opportunities Program at Oregon State. “In addition to specialized support programs such as the Educational Opportunities Program, TRIO Student Support Services, and the College Assistant Migrant Program, we have many first-gen faculty who have volunteered their time and energy to support current first-gen efforts. Much of the most recent work has included offering opportunities for first generation students to meet peers from similar backgrounds, gather in community, and build networks with others who understand and support one another.

Nishihara said that OSU classes focused on the history, contributions, and needs of first-generation college students have helped students learn that they follow in the footsteps of other first-generation students who have achieved their goals in college, including past OSU leaders, such as former vice president of student affairs Larry Roper, former provost Sabah Randhawa and president emeritus Edward Ray.

According to the Institutional Research Office at Oregon State, 23% of fall 2020 undergraduate students at OSU are first-generation.

As a First-gen Forward Institution, interested faculty and staff can engage with peer 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 in early June and will participate in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development and annual reporting. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the advisory leadership designation.

 “First-gen Forward now recognizes and supports over 200 diverse institutions across three cohorts, all of which continue to lead the nation through their commitment to first-generation student success. We are pleased to welcome Oregon State University for their long-term commitment and demonstrated strategies for advancing first-generation student initiatives,” said Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president of Center for First-generation Student Success.  

To learn more about first-generation efforts at Oregon State University, go to https://eop.oregonstate.edu/first or contact Caitlin McVay

at [email protected]. To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.