GS Hosts the Seventh FGLI Consortium Annual Colloquium

On March 7, Dean Rosen-Metsch welcomed professionals from partner institutions across the country to discuss better ways to support first generation and lower income (FGLI) students.

March 28, 2024

The Seventh FGLI Consortium Annual Colloquium took place on March 7 and 8 in Butler Library. Student affairs professionals from peer institutions convened to share knowledge and best practices to support and empower first generation and lower income students at colleges and universities, framing their discussion around the examination of recent scholarship in the field.

The FGLI Consortium is a national organization that provides leadership, expertise, and resources around the experience of first generation and lower income college students at highly selective universities and colleges. GS has been an active member and participant of this Consortium since its founding in 2018.  The FGLI Consortium Annual Colloquium is composed of around 25 professionals from Ivy League and peer institutions and is structured as an advanced seminar through which participants have the opportunity to dive into emerging research. The Colloquium is designed for scholar practitioners working in higher education to contribute to critical conversations on the intersections of theory and practice in the field of FGLI student access, belonging, and success.

To kick things off, Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch gave welcoming remarks and thanked the 16 campuses and organizations represented at the Colloquium. “We are proud to share that the GS undergraduate student body has the highest percentage of first generation and lower income students in the Ivy League,” said Dean Rosen-Metsch.

After the welcome, Marlyn Delva, GS Dean of Students, spoke about the importance of the Colloquium’s theme: Belonging in Context. Dean Delva invited the participants of the conference to think about how the university can support students who are first in their family to go to college, or come from lower income backgrounds, and how professionals in the field can create the spaces for these students to feel belonging on their campuses.

“We are proud to share that the GS undergraduate student body has the highest percentage of first generation and lower income students in the Ivy League."

Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch

With the increasing scale of the FGLI student population on campuses across the country, and increasing diversification of the FGLI student community, institutions have the increased responsibility to promote belonging and engagement in supportive contexts. Research by social psychologists Greg Walton, Mary Murphy, Rebecca Carey, Nicole Stephens, and others helped frame the conversation about the potential positive outcomes of engagement across differences. As these scholars note, cross-identity interactions help promote belonging and engagement among FGLI students–but only when they occur in supportive contexts. 

Over the course of two days, program attendees worked to dissect the readings and discuss the ways the research could inform the work to support FGLI students across college campuses. On day two, participants had roundtable conversations to cover tricky topics including supporting transfer and nontraditional students, navigating and leveraging institutional structures, student organizing and activism, and mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

The School of General Studies has a long history of supporting diverse, nontraditional students including those who are first in their families to attend college. While not every nontraditional student is a first generation college student, in many ways–despite making up the majority of students enrolled in higher education in the US–every first generation college student is a nontraditional student. As Dean Rosen-Metsch noted, the GS undergraduate student body has the highest percentage of first generation and lower income students in the Ivy League.“Research has demonstrated the importance of a diverse workforce, diverse student body, and interdisciplinary teams. Belonging not only enhances the work, but also improves our wellbeing,” said Dean Delva. 

The gathering came to a close with a reflection of what was learned over the course of the Colloquium and how participants can leverage the experience to continue to help first-generation and lower income students thrive in college and beyond. The GS team is already hard at work imagining ways to incorporate ideas from the Colloquium into programming in support of GS students, and looks forward to continued partnership with the FGLI Consortium.