• November 29, 2020
 UTEP receives National Honor for Commitment to First-Generation Student Success

Photo courtesy UTEP

UTEP receives National Honor for Commitment to First-Generation Student Success

The University of Texas at El Paso has been named to the 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward Institutions by the Center for First-generation Student Success.

Vice President for Student Affairs Gary Edens, Ed.D., attributed UTEP’s placement in the cohort to the effectiveness of its programs and its mission of access, excellence and impact.

“UTEP is a national leader in creating a supportive environment in which our first-generation students can thrive,” Edens said. “Our inclusion in this cohort demonstrates the commitment of our faculty and staff in serving all students and our success in creating innovative and impactful programs that truly make a difference in the lives of our students. We are excited to join these peer institutions as we continue to innovate.”

The First-gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that 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 cohort of 77 institutions includes Auburn University, Cornell University and Texas A&M University.

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, drives higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success.

At UTEP, 51% of graduating seniors in 2018-19 reported that they were first-generation college graduates.

The University has implemented programming meant to enhance the first-generation student experience, including the ¡Bienvenidos! campaign, which is designed to nurture positive, professional relationships between students and faculty; a formal ceremony in which first-generation students are given a commencement cord in recognition of their success; and recognition during the University President’s commencement speech.

The University has also participated in the annual National First-Generation College Celebration. UTEP has invited students, faculty and staff to attend a special event and exhibit celebrating first-generation student success.

Other key programs include the Entering Student Program, which focuses on helping first-year and transfer students successfully transition to UTEP; TRIO Student Support Services Program Center, which provides academic and professional assistance for first-generation students; the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence, which is a citywide collaboration of leaders that has worked to transform the educational pipeline to ensure academic success.

“The Center is so pleased to welcome UTEP into the 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward institutions,” said Sarah E. Whitley, Ph.D., senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

“Through the application process, it was evident that UTEP 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.”

As a First-gen Forward Institution, UTEP faculty and staff will have opportunities to engage with peer institutions that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. after a two-year program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory leadership designation.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at UTEP, visit the resources webpage and Student Support Services page. To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.

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