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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s commitment to advancing the outcomes of first-generation students was recognized this week by the Center for First-Generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA and the Suder Foundation.

More than 40% of UW Oshkosh students are the first in their families to pursue a degree.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt

UWO was among 22 higher education institutions to advance to the First Scholars phase of the First Scholars Network, which supports first generation efforts at higher education institutions with establishing communities of practice, gaining knowledge of resources and building peer networks.

“This represents an opportunity for UWO to advance its commitment to students and open some new doorways. Our new strategic plan, UWO2030, challenges us to explore and pursue new institutional designations, including those that will broaden access for first-generation college students,” Chancellor Andy Leavitt said. “This timely invitation and opportunity answers that call. We look forward to being part of the First Scholars network, adopting best practices and further enhancing students’ university and lifelong success.”

Benefits of participation in First Scholars 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 along each step of the experience; and customized solutions and continuous improvement plans personalized to allow each institution to meet its first-generation student success goals.

UWO also received funding to attend the First Scholars Leadership Academy in Boston later this month.

Erin Grisham

“First Scholars is an important and significant opportunity for UWO to advance our work to improve student outcomes and advance our work to support first-generation students,” said Erin Grisham, vice chancellor for student affairs. “The work will help us develop insights about our students’ experiences.  Armed with these insights and what we learn, we can create a deeper level of engagement, expand opportunity and ultimately help our students thrive and have an exceptional student experience.”

Grisham said this work is sure to benefit the entire UWO student population.

“Whatever strategies or programs we might develop and implement as part of this initiative will benefit all students—what works for first gen will work for all students,” she said.

To learn more about the First Scholars Network and the Center for First-Generation Student Success, visit