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U of U Office for Equity & Diversity Awarded The Suder Foundation Grants

July 1, 2009 – The University of Utah announced today that The Suder Foundation (TSF) has awarded two grants to the Office for Equity and Diversity for research and planning toward the creation of The Suder Scholars Program, a new national scholarship program designed to improve graduation rates of selected first-generation college-bound students.

The two grants, totaling $70,000, consist of a $10,000 scholar profile grant and a one-year $60,000 planning grant. Upon the successful completion of the planning grant year, the Office for Equity and Diversity will receive scholarship support and seed funding for program operations from The Suder Foundation for a pilot cohort of up to twenty first-generation students.

“Over the past two years the University of Utah, under the direction of Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president, Office for Equity and Diversity, has made a substantial commitment in resources, research and scholarship to provide underrepresented students with pathways to a successful experience in higher education,” said Michael K. Young, president of the University of Utah. “The Suder Foundation grants provide a valuable opportunity to form a partnership to lay the groundwork for what may become a national model to meet the challenges these students face in the coming years and to help secure our nation’s economic future.”

“After reviewing proposals from dozens of schools, the University of Utah’s expertise was obvious, said Eric Suder, founder, The Suder Foundation. “More importantly, the team seems to have the heart that fits with what we’re trying to do.” Eighteen universities nationwide submitted proposals to The Suder Foundation for the scholar profile grant. Three were funded. Forty-eight proposals were received in connection with the planning grant. In addition to the University of Utah, the University of Kentucky also received an award.

“In the history of the Office for Equity and Diversity we have never received an award with this potential,” said Villalpando. “The Suder Foundation grants validate the strength of our student diversity programs. We have no doubt that the University of Utah and TSF will create a partnership of great benefit to first-generation college students.” Villalpando gives special recognition to Rachel Pickett, postdoctoral research fellow with the Office for Equity and Diversity, for shepherding the grant application through the highly competitive selection process.

“We are thrilled to have won these planning grants,” said David Pershing, University of Utah senior vice president. “They will greatly assist us in developing the data and planning that we need for expanding our efforts to support first-generation students. The demographics of Utah are changing rapidly and it is essential that we work harder to ensure the success of these college students if Utah is to have the highly skilled workers needed for economic success in the global economy of this century.”

The mission of The Suder Foundation is to dramatically improve the graduation rates of selected first-generation college-bound students – the Suder Scholars – by providing them financial, academic, emotional, and social assistance at selected state universities throughout the United States.

TSF defines first-generation students as those whose parents have no education beyond high school. The Suder Scholars Program will offer financial aid in the form of scholarships, professional counseling, mentoring, tutoring and other support necessary to conquer the special challenges these students face. The University of Utah Office for Equity and Diversity has in place several student programs designed to support the needs of first-generation students. Research, data collection and best practices from these programs will inform the new partnership with TSF and lay a foundation for a new national model in The Suder Scholars Program.

For more information please visit or call communication and community outreach in the Office for Equity and Diversity at 801-581-4250. You may also visit