Baylor University Receives ‘First Forward’ Designation, National Honor for Commitment to First-Generation Student Success

First Forward
May 13, 2019

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (May 13, 2019) – The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, recently announced that Baylor University has been selected among the Center’s inaugural cohort of First Forward Institutions.

The First 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 Center is so pleased to welcome Baylor University into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions,” said Sarah E. Whitley, Ph.D., senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “Through the application process, it was evident that Baylor University 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.”

Baylor’s First in Line program is a support unit on campus that provides scholarships, directed programming, mentoring and a network of faculty and staff to assist first-generation college student success. As part of the Paul L. Foster Success Center-Student Success Initiatives, the First in Line program works with various offices across campus to create opportunities for leadership development, academic enhancement and campus involvement. The program provides services directly to students, trainings for faculty and staff, and family engagement.

“First in Line provides the space for first-generation college students to ask questions, connect with others from similar family backgrounds and be proud of their academic journey,” said Mito Diaz-Espinoza, Ph.D., First in Line program manager.

As a First Forward Institution, select faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer and aspirational institutions that 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 Baylor 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 Baylor University will be a significant contributor,” said Kevin Kruger, Ph.D., president of NASPA.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at Baylor University, visit 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. Learn more at


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. Learn more at.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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