FirstGen Faculty Initiative

Carolyn Thomas, Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education, wearing her First Gen Faculty t-shirt.

About the Initiative

First-generation college students face particular challenges as they make their way through the unfamiliar culture with its own language and expectations. Anxieties and impostor syndrome loom large. They may be dealing with family pressures to follow particular pathways. They may be intimidated by the idea of talking to professors.

One way to help these students succeed is to create a sense of connection: knowing that they have professors who began as first-generation college students can ease the anxiety of asking for help, speaking up in class, and even thinking about careers in research and teaching.

Connect with Us. UC Davis is launching a first-generation faculty initiative  with the following goals:

  • Provide a sense of connection, access, and encouragement for first-gen students by sharing first-gen faculty stories
  • Create a sense of connection among first-gen faculty
  • Provide resources, including research literature and educational opportunities, for campus departments and organizations to build on these connections for outreach and student success.
What’s the Plan?
  • A Website and Communications campaign – We’re building a website that shares your stories, best practices, and information for faculty, and a plan to continue telling those stories through social media.
    • A Directory. 
      • If you have already responded to an inquiry sent in late November or early December, we will include you in our online directory. If you’re not sure whether you’re already on our list, please check here. IIf you're not on the list and would like to be, you'll have a chance to add your name and information when the interactive directory is posted. 
  • A Celebration and Education Event planned for early April, 2017.
  • T-Shirts – Show your #FirstgenUCD pride. UC Office of the President is providing #FirstGen t-shirts, and asks that we select days – such as the first day of instruction each quarter— to help students identify their first-generation professors. We’ll distribute them at our event in March.

Share your Story. 

  • Since we began reaching out to find first-gen faculty on our campus, we have been overwhelmed with the positive response. We’ve discovered that UC Davis has hundredes of first-gen faculty, and that you have inspiring stories to share. Your stories, advice, and encouragement can make a tremendous difference. We’re gathering stories to share on the website or by social media. If you’d like to participate, contact Sharon Knox at

What About Staff?
We’re starting our initiative with first-gen faculty, and will expand our directory to include staff in the future. We'll make information available for departments to order t-shirts for staff. 

For More Information
Please contact Sharon Knox, Director of Communications, Undergraduate Education, at