University of Richmond Receives First Forward Designation; National Honor for Commitment to First-gen Student Success

May 1, 2019

The University of Richmond has been selected as one of an inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education), and the Suder Foundation.

The First Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education who have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students, defined federally as students from families where their parents did not complete a four-year college degree. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources.

The recognition specifically highlights Spider Firsts, a UR program dedicated to first-gens students who may have a more difficult time navigating college. Spider Firsts supports career planning, financial concerns, emotional needs, and more.

Lisa Miles “We launched Spider Firsts five years ago to develop a sense of community and pride among our first-gen student population and point these students toward high-impact practices like study abroad and living-learning programs,” said Lisa Miles, coordinator of first-gen student support. “This opportunity allows Richmond to tell our story of first-gen student support more boldly and learn from high performing peer institutions.”

“This national recognition is richly deserved for Lisa and her team,” said Steve Bisese, vice president for Student Development. “They have worked hard to create a community of thriving first-gen students.”

“The Center is so pleased to welcome the University of Richmond into our inaugural cohort of First Forward institutions,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “It is evident that Richmond is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students, but is also prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies for significant scaling and important advances in the future.”

Miles and UR colleague Rachel Rodney in Career Services will attend the initial First Forward Workshop to be held in Orlando in June. This designation also includes participation in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting, and more.

To learn more about first-generation efforts at the University of Richmond visit the Spider Firsts website. To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit

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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.

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.