ATU Earns Recognition for Serving First-Gen Students

First-Generation Graduates Fall 2022
A trio of first-generation graduates from Arkansas Tech University pose for a photo at fall 2022 commencement.

Arkansas Tech University is among 22 higher education institutions across the United States selected by the Center for First-Generation Student Success to advance to the First Scholars phase of the First Scholars Network in 2023.

Universities were chosen based upon their demonstrated commitment to advancing outcomes of first-generation students through student success initiatives and institution-wide approaches. The Center for First-Generation Student Success is an initiative made possible by NASPA and the Suder Foundation.

“The Center for First-Generation Student Success is proud to announce the newest members of the First Scholars phase of the Network,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, vice president at the Center for First-Generation Student Success. “Through every step, it was evident that these institutions not only invested in serving first-generation students, but were 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 for intentional impact.”

By advancing to the First Scholars phase of the program, ATU gains access to expert coaches who will help the university establish data-driven and actionable priorities that will help Arkansas Tech pursue continuous improvement of its service to first-generation students.

At ATU, first-generation students are defined as those whose parents or legal guardian did not graduate from a four-year institution. First-generation students comprise approximately one-third of the ATU student body.

Arkansas Tech serves its first-generation students through the ATU Office of First-Generation Student Experience, which oversees the ATU First-Generation Institute for high school students each summer and offers programming designed to support first-generation students throughout the academic year.

First Scholars is the third of four phases in the First Scholars Network. If ATU successfully completes the First Scholars stage, it will become eligible to pursue the Champion Campus designation through the First Scholars Network.

“First Scholars provides a unique balance of bringing first-generation student initiative scaling into focus while drilling down into how institutions recalibrate 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, president and CEO of NASPA. “I look forward to seeing their success as they drive national change and advance success outcomes for first-generation students.”

For more information about ATU’s initiatives to support first-generation students, send e-mail to or call (479) 968-0276.

Below is the list of institutions chosen for the First Scholars phase of the First Scholars Network in 2023:

  • Arkansas Tech University
  • Colorado State University
  • Cuyahoga Community College
  • Ferris State University
  • Florida International University
  • George Mason University
  • Kent State University
  • Marquette University
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Nevada State College
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Presbyterian College
  • Richard Bland College
  • Tarleton State University
  • Texas A&M University-Commerce
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • University of Wisconsin OshKosh
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washburn University
  • Washington State University
  • Wheaton College

Learn more about the Center for First-Generation Student Success at