Calling all first-generation college faculty

University of Iowa President Sally Mason knows firsthand what it’s like to be a first-generation college student—she was the first member of her family to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree (in zoology from the University of Kentucky in 1972).

Mason also knows that there are currently 5,670 first-generation students enrolled at the UI, and she wants to ensure that each and every one of them graduates and goes on to successful lives and careers.

That’s why the Office of the President and the Center for Diversity and Enrichment in the UI Chief Diversity Office are launching the First-Generation Initiative.

“As I know from personal experience, being the first in the family to go to college presents many challenges and opportunities in the lives of our first-generation students,” Mason says. “Unfortunately, research has shown that students who identify as both low-income and first-generation are nearly four times more likely to leave after their first year of college than are students without those risk factors.”
Mason adds that the most vital support that people can offer these students is a community that will provide them with a sense of belonging.

It is in this spirit, she adds, that the university is reaching out to identify faculty who are members of this first-generation college student community. She hopes these faculty will be mentors and role models for the university’s first-generation students, providing encouragement, support, and inspiration.

Faculty are invited to share a paragraph, page, or more of their memories as a first-generation student. These responses and stories will be compiled to share with first-generation students as part of the UI First-Generation Initiative. There will be opportunities for first-generation faculty to meet with first-generation UI students as part of the initiative.
“Through the First-Generation Initiative, we hope to create new traditions at the UI that will honor the determination and resiliency of our first-generation UI faculty and students,” Mason says. “Our ultimate goal is to plant the seed of mentorship by providing opportunities for connection.”
First-generation faculty are invited to submit memories of their first-gen experiences through the following link by Friday, March 2. For more information, contact UI Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President Georgina Dodge at 319-335-3565 or