COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Stephanie and Todd Routh of Austin, Texas, have committed a $2.6 million gift to the Texas A&M Foundation to support first-generation students at Texas A&M University. Their endowment will create The Stephanie Duprie Routh ’93 and Todd Routh ’86 First Generation Program.
The couple’s gift will bolster efforts within Texas A&M’s Office for Student Success, which was established in 2019 with an emphasis on helping first-generation students successfully navigate collegiate life. First-generation students, those whose parents have not earned a bachelor’s degree, make up close to 25% of the undergraduate population at Texas A&M.
Dr. Tim Scott, Texas A&M associate provost for academic affairs and student success, explained that first-generation students often report a lower sense of belonging on campus, which correlates with lower retention and graduation rates and a longer time to obtain their degree. “To address this gap, we’re working to give these students the attention and resources they deserve, so their retention, graduation and time to degree mirrors that of any Texas A&M student,” Scott said.
Current efforts support “learning communities” for first-generation scholarship recipients. These communities link students with campus and peer mentors and other students with similar backgrounds, which Scott said is vital to ensuring first-generation student success. First-year programs already exist for first-generation students who come from families earning less than $40,000.
“Many students don’t receive such funding and may not have the opportunity to participate in a community. The Rouths’ generosity will allow us to serve those students as well,” Scott explained. “It will also help us build out high-impact student employment opportunities on campus in a student’s second year, and potentially create learning communities for students’ junior and senior years.”