Lamar University receives First-Gen Forward designation; National honor for commitment to first-generation student success

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, recently announced Lamar University as one of the 2021-22 First Gen LogoFirst-gen Forward cohorts.

The First-gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education who 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.

In an effort to make Lamar University more first-generation friendly, a First-Gen Forward Work Group was formed to design programs and activities to help first-generation students succeed academically. The group connected first-generation LU students with faculty and staff with similar academic experiences. They sponsored programs, presentations and provided resources to help first-gen students learn skills and strategies to help them be successful and they facilitated mentorship programs.

“The Center is so pleased to welcome Lamar University into the 2021-22 First-gen Forward cohort. Through the application process, it was evident that Lamar University is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that
Oris Granger
Oris Granger, first gen student 
foster an environment of success for this important population,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president, Center for First-generation Student Success. 

"This is an amazing opportunity for Lamar University. It was a pleasure co-writing the proposal with Andre Favors, communication instructor, and Dr. Judith Mann,” said Wilma Jackson, director of Global Diversity & Inclusive Excellence. “The First-Generation Forward Work Group, which consists of campus-wide departments, like The Writing Center, McNair Scholars program, STARS, etc., has done tremendous work to serve and support the first-generation students. By securing the NASPA consortium designation, we plan to continue to expand our reach to this population of students on our campus." 

As a First-gen Forward Institution, interested faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First-gen Forward Workshop slated for early-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. 

“With the addition of the 2021-22 cohort, First-gen Forward Institutions contribute to a national movement of two- and four-year institutions dedicated to advancing the success of first-generation students; redefining student success as a movement. We commend Lamar University for their leadership and look forward to witnessing continued progress throughout their participation,” said Dr. Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at Lamar University visit the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusive Excellence First Gen Forward website or Wilma Jackson. To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, 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.

 The Center for First-generation Student Success is 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. Through four strategic priority areas, the Center drives higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success.