Boston University Receives First-gen Forward Designation

National Honor for Commitment to First-generation Student Success

MARCH 1, 2021

Boston, MA – Boston University has joined a prestigious cohort of institutions nationwide receiving a First-gen Forward designation from the Center for First-generation Student Success – an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the Suder Foundation. The First-gen 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.

“First-gen Forward now recognizes and supports over 200 diverse institutions across three cohorts, all of which continue to lead the nation through their commitment to first-generation student success. We are pleased to welcome Boston University for its long-term commitment and demonstrated strategies for advancing first-generation student initiatives,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president, Center for First-generation Student Success.

The Newbury Center opened in January 2021 to serve as a support hub for first-generation undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at Boston University. Since launching, the Center has worked collaboratively with faculty, staff, and alumni to introduce a range of programming and services, all designed to create a community of belonging and an environment where first-generation BU students can thrive. Efforts under development for the spring semester include:

  • Creation of professional and personal development workshops and social events for students in collaboration with campus partners.
  • Partnership in the 4th Annual First-generation Graduate and Professional Symposium with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Establishment of the Alpha Alpha Alpha National Honor Society for First-generation Students, Boston University Chapter
  • Creation of a faculty and staff training on best practices to support first-generation undergraduate, graduate, and professional students; and a network of mentors who will provide advice and guidance to first-generation students.

The Newbury Center’s inaugural director, Maria Dykema Erb, spoke to the significance of the designation for the University and what it means for the center’s efforts going forward.

“I am incredibly proud of Boston University being named a First-gen Forward institution, recognizing the efforts of first-generation student support that was in place prior to my arrival and now, with the launch of the Newbury Center,” said Erb. “This designation only further highlights BU’s commitment to celebrate and foster the success of our first-generation undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.”

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.

“First-gen Forward is an exciting opportunity for Boston University to join a dedicated 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-gen Forward cohort and know the Newbury Center will be a significant contributor,” offered Dr. Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at the Newbury Center, visit To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit