Ohio Wesleyan is a new member of a national network created to help first-generation college students to thrive and persist to graduation. (Photo by Allie Sanzenbacher)

First Scholars Network

Ohio Wesleyan Recognized for Commitment to Success of First-Generation College Students

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – The national Center for First-generation Student Success has selected Ohio Wesleyan University as a member of its First Scholars Network in recognition of OWU’s efforts to “elevate potential and advance outcomes for first-generation students today and in the future.”

Ohio Wesleyan is one of 76 colleges and universities nationwide selected for 2023-2024 First Scholars Network membership by the Center, an initiative of NASPA (the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) and The Suder Foundation. OWU also is one of only 17 private schools among the newest Network members and one of 111 private schools among the 349 colleges and universities in the group overall.

“I am excited that Ohio Wesleyan will be able to partner with the Center for First-generation Student Success and other institutions committed to doing this important work,” said Brad Pulcini, Ph.D., OWU’s dean of student services. “This partnership comes at an exciting time as it coincides with the launch of our Bishop Elevate office for first-generation students. The office showcases Ohio Wesleyan’s full commitment to a transformative student experience that positively influences student engagement and success.”

According to the Center, the First Scholars Network now includes schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia and utilizes “a four-phase approach that allows institutions of higher education to advance student success through establishing communities of practice, gaining knowledge of resources, and establishing peer networks.”

In the first phase, Ohio Wesleyan and other new members participated June 2 in the First Scholars Network Virtual Kick-off. The event enabled OWU faculty and staff to engage with other institutions working to improve the experiences and success of first-generation students.

In the second phase, successful Network members earn First-gen Forward status, after which they are eligible to progress to the third phase and become First Scholars Institutions. These institutions encapsulate the Center’s “customized approach to intentional institutional transformation in an effort to advance student outcomes.” Ultimately, all Network institutions strive for national leadership as a First Scholars Champion Campus.

 Kevin Kruger, Ph.D., president and CEO of NASPA, said he is confident Ohio Wesleyan “will be a significant contributor” to the First Scholars Network and its positive impact.

“Being named as a Network member of the First Scholars Network is an exciting opportunity for Ohio Wesleyan 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,” Kruger said.

To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success and its First Scholars Network, visit https://firstgen.naspa.org.

To learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s efforts to support first-generation students, visit owu.edu/FirstGen.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “Best Colleges” lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at owu.edu/experts or learn more at owu.edu.