UTC Receives “First Forward” Designation; National Honor For Commitment To 1st-Generation Student Success

Thursday, May 16, 2019

In recognition of its "commitment to improved experiences and outcomes for first-generation college students," the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has been selected for the inaugural cohort of U.S. universities chosen by the Center for First-generation Student Success.

Universities selected for First Forward designation—an initiative of National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Suder Foundation—receive professional development, community-building experiences and get a first look at the Center’s research and resources.

"UTC is welcoming students who are the first in their families to go to college with 'learning communities' designed specifically for these students and their first-generation peers who have a shared understanding of their unique perspective and challenges," officials said.

"For residential first-generation students, UTC also is offering living-learning communities that enable these students to become better acquainted outside the classroom."

The first-year studies course to help new students transition into college will offer a first generation-specific section, as will new student and family orientation. In addition, UTC debuts a mentoring program in fall 2019 pairing first-generation students with UTC faculty and staff who are first-generation college graduates.

“The center is so pleased to welcome the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions. Through the application process, it was evident that UTC 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 Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

UTC Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Yancy Freeman noted the University’s commitment to ensuring educational opportunity for all students.

“Education transforms lives, and transformation starts by providing access,” Vice Chancellor Freeman said. “UTC is committed to access to higher education for talented students, so we are thrilled about this First Forward designation from NASPA and the Suder Foundation. Our institutional goal of providing access and resources to first-generation students is intended to open the gateway to improved life outcomes.”

As a First Forward Institution, select UTC faculty and staff have multiple opportunities to engage with both actual and aspirational peer institutions who also are working to create environments that enhance experiences and outcomes for first-generation students. Selected institutions will send student support officials to the First Forward Workshop in Orlando in June, and those officials will participate in monthly phone meetings, virtual professional development, goal setting, blogging on efforts and progress, annual reporting and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions can apply for the “Advisory Leadership” designation.

“First Forward is an exciting opportunity for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to join an elite community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First Forward cohort and know UTC will be a significant contributor,” said NASPA President Kevin Kruger.


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