The goal of the RU-1st Alliance is to enhance access and support at Rutgers University-New Brunswick for students who self-identify as first-generation through a network of high-impact programs and community relations coordinated by the office of Student Access & Educational Equity (SAEE) in Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA). In November 2015, Rutgers–New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards charged schools, academic departments and administrative units with developing initiatives that achieve the overall mission of access and equity by providing a network of information and resources to students that are first-generation, low-income, or underrepresented (or a combination of all three)
There are approximately 10,000 undergraduate students at Rutgers-New Brunswick (RU-NB), who identify as first in the family to attend college; this number represents nearly 30% of the total undergraduate student body. It is important to note that higher education will continue to see these numbers of first-gen students grow and institutions will need to ensure that access to resources become an essential component in the retention and graduation of these students (Schademan & Thompson, 2016). At RU-NB, we have tried to afford first-gen and low-income students with additional advising support and modest supplementary support through federally- and state-funded programs, such as TRIO–Student Support Services (SSS) or Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF); however, there remain nearly 7,000 students who are not supported by such programs.
RU-1st is not an administrative unit, but rather an extension of the office of Student Access & Educational Equity that coordinates campus-wide initiatives aimed at first-gen students. A campus-wide committee meets regularly to discuss issues and best practices, develops high-impact experiences, and maintains a website full of resources for first-generation students. This coordination effort aims to increase the visibility of resources and services available across the campus, as well as provide a clearinghouse of best practices to be shared among schools, academic and co-curricular units. The committee makes recommendations to the Chancellor, Deans, and other academic and student affairs leaders as needs arise for the support of all first-generation students. This coordination and advisory role will follow the work of SAEE in partnering and advocating for resources that support first-generation students.