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The University of Maryland Receives First-gen Forward Designation

National Honor for Commitment to First-generation Student Success


Natifia Mullings , 301-405-4076


COLLEGE PARK, MD - The University of Maryland has been recognized as a 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward Institutions, as announced by The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation. 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 University of Maryland is one of 29 four-year institutions selected from across the country to participate in First-gen Forward. UMD is also one of 157 institutions selected from two and four-year, public and private institutions across the country to participate in First-gen Forward.

As a First-gen Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. UMD will send representatives to the First-gen Forward Workshop to be held in Baltimore 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.

For UMD, this means direct and active collaboration with a cohort of similar institutions dedicated to the success of its first-gen students, sharing ideas, resources and connections to leading experts.

“There are very few schools who have been identified in this way,” said Bridgette Behling, associate director of Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy, Diversity within the Adele H. Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland. “It is an indicator to prospective students that, “‘This is a school who’s thinking forward about first-generation student success. This is a place I can find myself in and I can find a path for myself.’”

The University of Maryland is working collectively across the university to be mindful and improve the opportunities for success for First-gen students. UMD will receive free data analysis to help scale programs that are successful and find ways to continue to grow and provide better support for the success of its First-gen students.

“Across the 2020-21 First-gen Forward cohort there were themes directly tied to the findings from the First-generation Student Success: A Landscape Analysis of Programs and Services at Four-year Institutionsreport. We are proud to see how the University of Maryland is implementing evidence-based practices, shifting to an institution-wide approach, and breaking down systemic barriers impeding student success,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

“First-gen Forward is an exciting opportunity for the University of Maryland 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. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First-gen Forward cohort and know the University of Maryland will be a significant contributor,” offered Dr. Kevin Kruger, president, and CEO of NASPA.

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

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 300 academic programs. As one of the nation's top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, six Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.3 billion operating budget and secures more than $1.3 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit .


NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories. Visit for more information.


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