Tarleton Recognized for Commitment to First-Gen Student Success


STEPHENVILLE — The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA and The Suder Foundation, today announced the advancement of Tarleton State University to the First Scholars phase of the First Scholars Network. 

Tarleton’s selection is based on its demonstrated commitment to positive outcomes for first-generation students through improving success initiatives and institution-wide approaches.

“The Center for First-generation Student success underscores our belief that a successful experience is paramount for first-generation students to continue their education,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “I am a first-generation graduate, so I personally understand the value and importance of a transformational university education. It’s the very vision of our founder, John Tarleton. When we provide opportunities for students to be the first in their families to earn a university degree, we live out that vision.”

More than 50 percent of Tarleton students are first-generation.

“We are extremely honored to be selected as a First Scholars institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success,” said Dr. Sherri Benn, Tarleton’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and International Programs. “We are excited to have such a proven partner and cohort of outstanding institutions dedicated to advancing academic opportunities for first-generation students.”  

The First Scholars Network is a four-phase approach that helps institutions of higher education improve outcomes through establishing communities of practice, gaining knowledge of resources and establishing peer networks. More than 275 institutions of higher education have joined the network and progressed through the second phase, First-gen Forward. 

The third phase, First Scholars, signals an unprecedented commitment to serving first-generation students. The center recently announced a determination to assist over 700 institutions in the network in the next five years. 

“After seeing such exciting network progress and leadership, the center is pleased to welcome Tarleton State University as a new First Scholars institution,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, Vice President of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “Through every step, it was evident that Tarleton is not only invested in serving first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment to radically change the way first-generation students are served, and to employ strategies for sustainability and scale that result in intentional impact.”

First Scholars provides institutions an ecosystem of resources for engaging in student-centered, systemic transformation. Benefits of participation include:

  • an evidence-based and research-supported framework of actionable priorities supported through monthly workshops 
  • diagnostic tools providing critical institutional insight 
  • robust data sharing as part of the national Postsecondary Data Partnership 
  • guidance of expert coaches at each step of the experience
  • customized solutions and continuous improvement plans personalized to allow each institution to meet its first-generation student success goal 

Institutions meeting milestones in the First Scholars phase are eligible to earn the Champion Campus designation. 

“First Scholars provides a unique balance of bringing first-generation student initiative scaling into focus while drilling down into how Tarleton recalibrates institutional systems to elevate potential and advance outcomes for first-generation students, positioning them to be a real leader in first-generation student success,” said Dr. Kevin Kruger, NASPA President and CEO. “I look forward to seeing the university’s success as it drives national change and advances success outcomes for first-generation students.”

To learn more about first-generation efforts at Tarleton State, visit First-Generation Initiatives| TRIO. For more about the First Scholars Network and the Center for First-generation Student Success, go to firstgen.naspa.org.

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