Ferris Receives First Forward Designation; National Honor for Commitment to First-Generation Student Success

Ferris State University
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Students and staff are shown inside the University Center building on Ferris State University's Big Rapids campus. The images are from the National First Generation College Student Celebration event that was held on Nov. 8, 2018.


Ferris State University has been selected as part of the Center for First-generation Student Success, the inaugural 2019 cohort of the First Forward program, sponsored by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation.

The First Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-Ferris State Universitygeneration college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences and a first look at the Center’s research and resources.

Dean of Enrollment Services Kristen Salomonson noted that Ferris’ selection in the competitive process was due to its demonstrated success engaging in evidence-based practices and scaling efforts to serve first-generation students. Staff from Student Affairs and Retention and Student Success completed Ferris’ application. The administration has welcomed this distinction as an affirmation of its ongoing commitment to recruiting, retaining and graduating first-generation college students.

“Being part of this inaugural cohort is a prideful distinction for the university, and serves as recognition for the efforts Ferris has made to understand the challenges and opportunities Ferris State Universityfor first-year college students,” Salomonson said. “Our application was, in part, the result of great collaboration between Student Affairs and Retention and Student Success. Great partnerships, like this, help us pave the way for student success at Ferris.”

The Center for First-generation Student Success is pleased to have Ferris on board.

“The Center is so pleased to welcome Ferris State University into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions. Through the application process, it was evident that Ferris is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

As a First 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. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First Forward Workshop to be held in Orlando 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.

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

For more information about Ferris’ first-generation efforts, visit Admissions First Generation website. To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, click first generation.