Vice Provost Michael Dennin is recognized for his leadership in launching the First Gen Faculty Initiative, developing innovative usage of videos for fundraising, and leveraging social media platforms.

Irvine, Calif., February 19, 2019 – The University of California, Irvine announces that they have won five Awards of Excellence from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The awards will be presented during the CASE District VII West Coast Conference in Anaheim on February 21st, 2019.

UC Irvine is a proud member of CASE, an organization that supports alumni relations, communications, development, and marketing professionals at more than 3,670 colleges, universities, and independent elementary and secondary schools in over 80 countries.

Michael Dennin, UCI’s Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, has won three of the five CASE awards for his innovative ideas and leadership practices. His awards include the Gold Award in Diversity Programs for the First Gen Faculty Initiative, the Silver Award in Innovative Technology for his use of videos to support UCI Giving Day, and the Bronze Award in Communications and Marketing for his unconventional but highly effective approach to using social media. The two other awards UCI received are Gold for the UCI Innovator Awards Trophy Design, and Bronze for the Samueli School of Engineering’s 2017-18 Dean’s IMPACT Report.

“I see these awards as a reflection of our values: inclusive excellence, enthusiasm, and teamwork,” said Dennin. “Our First Gen Faculty Initiative is a great example of the entire campus working together to create a supportive environment for our first gen faculty, staff, and students.”

The First Generation Faculty Initiative (FGFI) is a coalition of faculty who present themselves as relatable role models whom first generation students can comfortably seek out for advice and support. The Initiative encourages instructors, students, and staff on campus to identify themselves as the first in their families to attend college by wearing first gen t-shirts and buttons. More than half of UCI’s student population is comprised of first generation college students. In January 2019, Forbes magazine ranked UCI number 7 on its list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity.

To support the First Generation Faculty Initiative, Dennin has launched a pilot program that features #UCIfirstgen promotional merchandise, workshops, and mentorship, while using social media platforms to spread awareness of the initiative to the community and other universities.

All University of California campuses now have their own First Generation Faculty Initiative as a result of UCI’s success. “I hope that these collective efforts will serve as an example for other institutions—beyond the rest of the UCs—to emulate,” said Dennin.

When asked for his thoughts about winning the Gold Award in diversity programs, Bill Maurer, UCI’s Dean of Social Sciences, said “The First Gen Initiative exemplifies our commitment to ensuring the success of all our students, and I’m extremely grateful for our faculty’s dedication to this program. Many of them were themselves the first in their families to attend college; they know first hand what first gen students need to succeed. We are delighted to receive this recognition, and to serve as a model for other institutions seeking to better support their first generation college students.”

Anita Casavantes Bradford, the UCI Associate Professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and History who initially launched the campuswide First Generation Faculty Initiative in 2014, said: “UCI’s First Gen efforts are a testament to what can be accomplished when you’ve got committed leadership and talented, innovative, and collaborative faculty and staff who are willing to get involved to support student success in really tangible ways.”

The FGFI built on and has since become a part of the first generation outreach, retention and academic support programs offered through the Division of Undergraduate Education’s Student Success Initiatives Center.

Vice Provost Dennin is also an active contributor to the American Talent Initiative, a coalition of 108 of the nation’s top colleges and universities that have come together to “expand access and opportunity for talented, low- and moderate-income students at the nation’s colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates.”

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and an anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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