Penn will expand efforts to improve the experience of first-generation, low-income students with a Penn First Plus Office, according to an official statement from Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett.
The University plans to appoint an executive director for Penn First Plus students who will lead the new office and overlook all expanded efforts for FGLI students, Gutmann and Pritchett wrote in a school-wide email. It is not immediately clear when this executive director will start their term or which departments they will oversee.
The office will offer a central location for First Plus undergraduate students to form a community, and learn about and utilize resources available to them on campus. There will also be two faculty directors — one from the humanities and another from a STEM field — appointed to the office to serve as additional resources for FGLI students.
Penn also announced that it plans to appoint First Plus liaisons in every undergraduate school to provide more targeted resources to these students.
Two years ago, Penn became the second university in the Ivy League to open a dedicated resource center for FGLI students. Earlier this year, Penn admitted the greatest number of first-generation students in history. One in every seven students admitted to the Class of 2022 is the first in their family to attend college — up from just one in 20 students who entered Penn in 2005.
But despite the increase in programs and funding for these students in recent years — including programming during school breaks for students who can’t afford to travel home — there have been calls for the University to do more.
FGLI students told The Daily Pennsylvanian in January that Career Services lacks the right kind of resources to accommodate their needs. Late last year, several students also expressed confusion over how the University chooses to identify "high-need" students.
Seven|Eight, Penn's FGLI group for Asian Americans, signed a letter denouncing legacy-based admissions policies and calling for greater transparency from Penn's admissions office earlier this semester.
The May 1 statement from Gutmann and Pritchett said that their announced steps were chosen after months of research and consultation with Penn students and faculty. The decision comes just a week after the University made another major announcement to appoint a chief wellness officer who will oversee a centralized center of wellness resources.
Late in April, administrators also indicated that they were currently considering a two-year-old proposal from graduate students to establish a central diversity office.