What is the UI First-Generation Task Force?

NASPA Center for First-Generation Student Success Blog, October 2018
"Grassroots Mobilization of Faculty and Staff to Support and Celebrate First-Generation Students"

 

Want to learn more about the First-Gen@Iowa campus-wide initiative to support and celebrate first-generation students? Click here for more information.

 

Overview

In the past, the University of Iowa has not had integrated campus-wide oversight and direction for coordinating first-generation student initiatives throughout campus, identifying unmet needs, selecting areas for further collaboration, disseminating lessons learned, or advocating for policies and practices that support these students.  However, given that nearly a quarter of undergraduate students at the University of Iowa identify as first-generation, the need for such guidance has become increasingly apparent. As a result, the First-Generation Task Force was created to serve some of these functions.

 

The First-Gen Task Force was convened in Spring 2017, to follow-up on initial recommendations of the 2016 Student Success Task Force and to further examine ways the institution can better support first-generation students. The Task Force was also specifically charged with considering the unique roles of faculty and staff in supporting the academic success of students with whom they work.

 

The Task Force began its work by reviewing literature- sharing research and best practices related to supporting first-generation students among its members- and assembling current institutional data. Because the Task Force meets only a few times throughout each semester, much of its work is done through smaller working groups that are assigned a specific task to complete and bring back to the larger group. As of October 2018, the working groups have so far:

 

  • Developed a handout that distills current research and institutional data and provides a brief introduction to the campus community on first-generation student concerns.   
  • Created a template for area-specific action steps (for example, for faculty, advisors, or administrators). 
  • Entered a partnership with the UI Undergraduate Student Government to host a campus-wide First-Generation Summit in April 2018. 
  • Discussed plans for networking opportunities that involve students, faculty, staff, and potentially, alumni. 
  • Initiated conversations on strategic dissemination of a cohesive, data-informed message to faculty and staff through trainings and purposeful discussions that will create systematic institutional change. 
  • Created a website designed to serve as a faculty and staff-facing campus hub of materials that includes critical information and a comprehensive listing of current Task Force events and initiatives. 
  • Collaborated with UI Marketing & Design to create a “First-Gen@Iowa” logo and branding identity of the institutional initiative that seeks to inform and educate the campus community, support first-generation students in their academic and career endeavors, and ensure that students ultimately succeed at the University of Iowa. 
  • Launched plans to participate in the 2018 National First-Generation College Celebration through a week-long, campus-wide series of events.