Co-authors Scott Pitoniak and Rick Burton discuss the creation of Forever Orange, The Story of Syracuse University.
Transforming the First-Generation Student Experience: University to Welcome First Kessler Scholars
What started as a scholarship to support students with financial need has evolved into a transformative model to support first-generation college students. The Irene and Morris B. Kessler Presidential Scholars Program was first established by Fred and Judy Wilpon in 2007 at the University of Michigan. Now, through the generosity of the Wilpons, Syracuse University will join the consortium of colleges and universities who are transforming the first-generation student experience by welcoming its first cohort of Kessler Presidential Scholars in fall 2020.
“I am grateful to Fred and Judy Wilpon for establishing a Kessler Presidential Scholars Program at Syracuse University. Their bold vision to transform the first-generation college student experience advances Syracuse University’s ongoing commitment to access, opportunity and inclusion, and support of first-generation student success,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud.
Administered by the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience, the inaugural group of Kessler Scholars will consist of 15 academically talented, well-rounded and diverse incoming undergraduates across Syracuse University’s schools and colleges who identify as first-generation college students. These students will not only receive scholarship awards but will also have access to holistic services that enhance their experience on campus. In addition to programs and events hosted to build community among the Kessler Scholars, each student will also be connected to a peer mentor, participate in career-enrichment opportunities, engage in community projects and study abroad.
Ensuring an unsurpassed student experience is paramount to the University and is a top priority of Forever Orange: The Campaign for Syracuse University. The Kessler Scholars Program is well-aligned with this priority as it aims to support students in all facets of their lives—in and outside of the classroom.
With about 17 percent of the undergraduate student body identifying as first generation, the Kessler Scholars Program deepens the University’s commitment to creating pathways to higher education for students across the socioeconomic spectrum who are the first in their family to go to college.
“The Wilpons’ commitment to access to higher education for first-generation students and their support of enhancing the student experience is unmatched,” says Dolan Evanovich, senior vice president for enrollment and the student experience. “The network they are building through this national model for first-generation students will undoubtedly have far reaching impact not only for the scholars, but first-generation college student success across the country.”
First established at the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and Arts, the Kessler Scholars Program has grown into a network of colleges and universities. As the leading scholarship program for first-generation students, the program is distinct in that it provides comprehensive support through wrap-around, multi-tiered services to ensure students’ success from the moment they enroll to after graduation.
The approach behind the model is not only based on sound research in student success, but was the lived experience of Fred Wilpon, who, as a first-generation college student, found success with the support of mentors and a community of friends. Wilpon, who has had a long career as a businessman and chairman and CEO of the New York Mets, and his wife, Judy, look forward to expanding the program at Syracuse University and providing even more first-generation college students with the same support and community to help them thrive.
The University will notify the inaugural cohort of Kessler Scholars of their selection for the program later this month.
The University of Michigan officially announced national expansion of the Kessler Scholars Program in a May 12 news release.
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university that advances knowledge across disciplines to drive breakthrough discoveries and breakout leadership. Our collection of 13 schools and colleges with over 200 customizable majors close the gap between education and action, so students can take on the world. In and beyond the classroom, we connect people, perspectives and practices to solve interconnected challenges with interdisciplinary approaches. Together, we’re a powerful community that moves ideas, individuals and impact beyond what’s possible.
About Forever Orange
Orange isn’t just our color. It’s our promise to leave the world better than we found it. Forever Orange: The Campaign for Syracuse University is poised to do just that. Fueled by 150 years of fearless firsts, together we can enhance academic excellence, transform the student experience and expand unique opportunities for learning and growth. Forever Orange endeavors to raise $1.5 billion in philanthropic support, inspire 125,000 individual donors to participate in the campaign, and actively engage one in five alumni in the life of the University. Now is the time to show the world what Orange can do. Visit syracuse.edu/foreverorange to learn more.