Engaging Faculty and Staff Around First-gen

Elizabeth Burbatt, M.S., & Jody A. Maloney, M.A., / The Center / September 27, 2019

Ferris State University FF Icon

At Ferris State University, we are very fortunate to have a supportive and excited group of faculty and staff to help support our First Forward, first-generation college student outreach.

In the past year, we’ve focused on developing programming and opportunities for faculty and staff to get involved with “First Gen at Ferris.” Some of these opportunities include our National First Generation College Celebration on November 8, a campus-wide work group focused on special projects and initiatives, and two faculty/staff book groups reading the book Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success by Estela Bensimon, Michelle Asha Cooper, Nicole McDonald, Thomas Major, Jr., and Tia Brown McNair.

This year’s First-Generation College Celebration will be a weeklong celebration (November 4-8) and we will have a Staff Center training session on Becoming Student Ready through Supervising Student Workers. We are starting to have conversations on campus on how to best support work-study students, especially those who are low income and/or first-generation. Additionally, we will host “Donuts with the Deans”, a deliberative dialogue session, social media campaign and a mixer/celebration.

Ferris State University First Forward

Recently, we kicked off our newest faculty opportunity in partnership with our Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning – a faculty learning community titled “First Among Equals: Creating a Supportive First Generation Focused College Experience.” Through the faculty learning community, faculty and staff across campus come together to discuss key topics surrounding first generation college students. By the end of the semester, participants will be tasked with creating a campus-wide project to better support first-generation students on campus.


Ferris State University_ Student Lounge

Our sessions for the faculty learning community include:

  • Session 1: First Things First: Identifying First Generation College Students What is First Generation?
      - Identifying FG students, stats, and background information
  • Session 2: First and Foremost: Focusing on Assets and Strengths of First Generation Students
      - Using an asset-based approach and flipping conversations to focus on strengths
  • Session 3: First Come, First (under) Served: Exposing the “Hidden Curriculum”
      - What is the hidden curriculum? Strategies for supporting students as they navigate the hidden curriculum
  • Session 4: First Person Narrative: First Generation College Student Panel
      - A panel of FG students will share their experiences with the FLC and discuss opportunities on campus; we will also begin working on our projects this week
  • Session 5: First Among Equals: First Gen Friendly Campus
      - Making change on campus and empowering students
  • Session 6: First Forward: End of FLC
      - Review semester, next steps, and structuring future of the projects

For each session, faculty and staff will read various articles on the topics above, and discuss as a group to develop best practices. If anyone is interested in implementing something similar on their campus, please feel free to reach out to either Liz Burbatt or Jody Maloney.


To learn more visit: ferris.edu/firstgen