The Center Turns Three: A Year of Response
The Center / June 12, 2020
Upon publicly sharing the Center’s establishment on June 14, 2017, we genuinely didn’t know what to expect. We were steadfast in our belief that there was a great need for increased support for first-generation students and optimistic that practitioners and scholars across the country would see the Center as a resource when advancing their tireless efforts. We quickly found ourselves welcomed by a community of incredibly talented individuals who were eager to engage, contribute, and lead and we continue to be grateful for those who continue to support our efforts.
Charting Our Course
Once the Center launched, we knew establishing our Strategic Priorities would be imperative for success. We created the priorities shared below as intentional responses to what we saw as needs of the community and the field of higher education and with a keen eye toward improving outcomes and experiences for first-generation students. These priorities serve as a framework for each decision we make.
Three years later, these four strategic priorities continue to drive and direct the Center’s work, yet, upon reflection, the past 12 months have challenged us to advance our work in new ways.
Where We've Been
Our reflection begins in June 2019, when the growing need for dedicated professional development, community building, and scholarship surrounding first-generation students led to the inaugural First-generation Student Success (FGSS) Conference in Orlando, Florida. Uniquely, the FGSS conference joined three other conferences (Assessment, Persistence, and Data Analytics; Closing the Achievement Gap; and Student Financial Wellness) to round out the NASPA Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education (SSHE). This event gathered 1600+ participants and exhibitors and quickly became the preferred conference for those committed to student success.
As fall became winter, our attention shifted to the 2020 NASPA Annual Conference, and we were looking forward to joining our colleagues in the Violet Crown City: Austin, Texas. As you know, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic, soon after the place-based NASPA Annual Conference was canceled. Despite our disappointment that we could not be together in Austin, we are proud of how quickly we created the Virtual Highlights offerings, which included many of the original featured conference speakers, expert panels, and thought-provoking conversations.
We continue to focus on ways institutions can support first-generation students during this global pandemic, especially as we prepare for the next academic year, which is the focus of A Moderated Discussion: Fall 2020 First-gen Student Enrollment Considerations, now available OnDemand. Equally as important are the experiences of first-generation professionals. On June 16, a first-generation panel will discuss We’re Still First: Navigating the Hidden Curriculum as a First-gen Professional, and we hope you are able to tune in.
In the midst of turmoil, we announced the continuation of our partnership with The Suder Foundation. The generosity of Eric and Deb Suder and their deep commitment to advancing first-generation efforts allows the Center to thrive as a national leader in student success.
Where We're Going
As year three comes to a close, our response to meet the unique needs of first-generation students, staff, and faculty continues. To remain current on all Center offerings, sign up to receive the Center biweekly newsletter, bookmark firstgen.naspa.org and visit often, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (@FirstgenCenter).
There are many, many exciting new programs, services, and initiatives ready for the Center’s fourth year, and our team is excited to share and engage.
If there are ways we could support you and your work, please reach out to us via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.