News release by Purdue University Northwest:

HAMMOND and WESTVILLE, Ind. — Purdue University Northwest (PNW) has been elevated to the First Scholars phase by the Center for First-generation Student Success in recognition of its continuous efforts to support first-generation college students.

Earning First Scholars status means PNW has demonstrated sustained commitment to support its first-generation students. These practices are evidenced by intentional institutional frameworks that foster a supportive campus culture for first-generation students, student and professional leadership development and resources for student academic success.

“We are honored and excited by PNW’s inclusion in the First Scholars cohort,” said Elizabeth Babcock Depew, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at PNW. “It is both a recognition of our current initiatives supporting first-generation students at Purdue Northwest, as well as a vote of confidence that we can rise to the next level of support integration. By leveraging additional research and resources, PNW is committed to expanding and enhancing our offering of programs that include tutoring, mentoring, fostering a sense of belonging, promoting academic achievement and celebrating the successes of first-generation students.”

PNW is a member of the First Scholars Network of Institutions, which is facilitated by the Center for First-generation Student Success. The network is a community of institutional partners committed to transforming the higher education landscape in ways that advance outcomes for first-generation students. PNW earned the status of First-Gen Forward Institution in the network in spring 2022 and has now been promoted to the next phase, First Scholars.

As a welcoming, diverse and inclusive metropolitan university, PNW proudly celebrates and supports its first-generation students, who make up over half of the university’s undergraduate population. First-generation students are defined as students whose parents or guardians did not complete a four-year college degree.

“The designation of First Scholars serves as institutional proof that we are committed to integrating the first-generation college scholar experience into the essence of PNW for generations to come” said Ronnell DuBose, executive director for Diversity, Inclusivity and Belonging at PNW.

PNW supports and recognizes its first-generation students through multiple campus resources and initiatives, including but not limited to:


  • Annual National First-Gen College Celebration events on campus


  • Honorary silver cords provided to first-generation graduates as part of their commencement regalia


  • Affinity graduation ceremonies for first-generation and historically underrepresented student groups


  • Internally funded faculty and staff research dedicated to developing improved outcomes for first-generation student academic success



  • Annual recognition in U.S. News & World Report as a top Midwest higher education institution for social mobility, a category measuring how well a university graduates Pell Grant recipients

In its capacity as a First Scholars institution, PNW will continue developing evidence-based and research supported student-focused resources to enhance future outcomes. Benefits of participation in First Scholars include:

  • An evidence-based and research-supported framework of actionable priorities supported through monthly workshops


  • Diagnostic tools providing critical institutional insight


  • Robust data sharing as part of the national Postsecondary Data Partnership


  • Guidance of expert coaches along each step of the experience


  • Customized solutions and continuous improvement plans personalized to allow each institution to meet its first-generation student success goals

Upon meeting milestones in the First Scholars phase, institutions are eligible to earn the Champion Campus designation.

The Center for First-generation Student Success is an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

Center for First-generation Student Success

The Center is transforming higher education to drive first-generation student success effectively and equitably across education, career and life. We provide data, training and expertise for a growing network of colleges and universities around the country to scale and sustain the important work of serving first-generation students.

National Association of Student Personnel Administrators

NASPA is a member-centered association supporting a diverse and passionate network of 15,000 professionals and 1,200 institutions across the globe. It is the professional home for the field of student affairs and is dedicated to cultivating student success in collaboration with the millions of its institution members — a network of colleges and universities representing every sector of higher education.