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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

University Recognized for its Efforts to Help First-Generation Students Succeed

By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University recently was chosen as one of 80 institutions to be a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators' (NASPA) inaugural First Forward Cohort, which recognizes schools that are committed to first-generation student success.

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA, and the Suder Foundation selected the recipients.

Four leaders represented ODU at NASPA's First-generation Student Success Conference and a preconference workshop:

  • Don Stansberry, interim vice president of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services (SEES) and dean of students.
  • Johnny Young, associate vice president of SEES.
  • Erin Colwell, assistant director of the Center for Major Exploration & Mane Connect Success Coaching.
  • Rachel Evans, advisor/success coach at the Center for Major Exploration & Mane Connect Success Coaching.

Stansberry discussed ODU's culture of care and support for first-generation students during two presentations at the conference. Colwell and Evans explained how ODU's success coaching program works with first-generation students during their freshman years.

"This recognition further affirms ODU's commitment to helping first-generation students succeed," Stansberry said. "At Old Dominion, we are focused on enhancing social mobility for students from all backgrounds."

As a First Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions that are also creating environments to improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory leadership designation.

The Center for First-generation Student Success launched in June 2017 with the mission of being the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students.

"First Forward is an exciting opportunity for Old Dominion University 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," NASPA President Kevin Kruger said. "We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First Forward cohort and know Old Dominion will be a significant contributor."

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