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MSU Denver selected for inaugural First Forward cohort

By Lindsey Coulter

May 2, 2019 First Forward Institution logo in green and black

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation, has named Metropolitan State University of Denver to its inaugural cohort of First Forward Institutions. The First Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. MSU Denver has long been a champion of first-generation students, developing programs within the Center for Equity and Student Achievement, TRIO Student Support Services, the College Assistance Migrant Program and Roadways to help first-gen students thrive, while also creating awareness and education opportunities to help faculty and staff become advocates. Today, more than 48 percent of MSU Denver students are the first in their family to enter higher education. The ultimate goal is to create a campus environment in which first-gen college students, and all students, feel that they belong and are valuable members of the Roadrunner community.

“In order for MSU Denver to continue to be the driver of the talent pipeline in Colorado, it is imperative that we recognize the experiences of first-generation students,” said Will Simpkins, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs. “I have been impressed by the efforts of our faculty and staff leaders in innovating and working to flex to students’ needs. I want every first-generation student at MSU Denver to know that we see them, we support them and we are proud of what they’ve accomplished. The many MSU Denver Roadrunners who proudly wear their ‘I’m First’ red tees are proof positive that this community is united in our efforts.”

With MSUDenver as a First Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will have multiple opportunities to engage with peer andaspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First Forward Workshop inOrlando,Florida, in June and will participate in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal-setting,blog development, annual reporting and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory leadership designation.

“The shared MSU Denver commitment to supporting our first-generation students is evidence of being selected for the First Forward program,” said Brandi Scott, associate dean of Equity and Student Achievement. “Thank you to everyone who has completed the Roadrunners First training and to those who have adjusted your teaching and support to better serve our first-generation students!”

“First Forward is an exciting opportunity for MSU Denver 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,” said Kevin Kruger, Ph.D., president of NASPA. “We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First Forward cohort and know MSU Denver will be a significant contributor.”

To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit firstgen.naspa.org.


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