August 2014

In this Issue

We would love your feedback! Send us suggestions, member profile nominations, and job postings. Please email us at [email protected].

In the Chair

I hope this note finds each of you well at the start of this academic year.  

Recently, I have been thinking about our broad role as professionals. Though our roles may differ slightly and our involvement across campus may shift a little from year to year, our central purpose is the same, to help make positive memories and experiences for our students, parents and families.

This may come in different forms and in different ways throughout the year – in planning opening weekend and working closely with the Residential Housing staff to make certain that move-in goes smoothly, with the Student Activities Office to ensure and communicate quality programmatic efforts on our Parents and Families Weekends, in consultation with Accessibility Services to ensure families are informed and aware of the services to ensure the success of their student throughout the year, and in taking the time to talk to the father of a first-year student who is worried and concerned with his son’s success throughout the coming year.

As campus gets a little extra mulch and a fresh coat of paint and close colleagues prepare for this fall and the coming year, we are busy making sure that our families have great experiences.  Our job is to ensure that when they look back at their daughter’s picture in front of her first residence hall, that those memories, and the many to follow, are positive.  Creating those positive memories take time, building relationships across campus with endless departments – financial aid, housing and dining, student activities, the Bursar, the Registrar, event services, and the many other offices with which we partner each and every day.  

As you start the year once again fostering those relationships, please take a moment to reflect on past successes and with an eye on the opportunities for the coming year.   

I hope that you have a successful start to your year and hope to see you in San Diego this November!

With warm regards,
Chad Barnhardt

  Chad Barnhardt
  AHEPPP Chair
  Ohio University

Back to the top of the page

Conference Corner

The AHEPPP Board of Directors is excited that so many of our members have already registered for the conference. We can't wait to see you! If you haven't registered, there's still time to join us November 10-12. From the conference kick-off at the world-famous San Diego Zoo to innovative educational sessions and programs, the AHEPPP National Conference will inform and inspire you to better serve your campus community. Click here for a sneak preview of the conference schedule. alt

Hotel InformationThe Dana on Mission Bay
The Dana on Mission Bay is our official conference hotel. A special rate of $129/night is available to conference attendees. We have a limited room block, so we encourage you to make your reservations as soon as possible.

To reserve your room at The Dana online, please visit our AHEPPP reservation page. You can also call the hotel at (619) 222-6440 or toll-free at (800) 445-3339 to make your reservation. When you call to reserve your room, please share that you are with the AHEPPP conference in November.

Pre-Conference Workshop for Professionals New to Parent Programs
Whether creating a program from the ground up or starting in a new position with an established parent/family programs office, this highly interactive session will help participants explore fundamental and critical issues and establish a strong foundation for their work. This special pre-conference workshop will provide opportunities to engage and interact with colleagues, learn together, and enjoy a mentoring lunch with seasoned professionals. Participants will also receive a complimentary copy of the Parent and Family Programs CAS Standards and Guidelines. The pre-conference workshop will take place on Monday, November 10 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. The fee includes continental breakfast and lunch. Click here to view the Pre-Conference Workshop schedule. alt You will have the ability to register for the pre-conference when you sign up for the conference.

GiraffeNight at the Zoo  
Join us at our kick-off event at the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Explore the grounds from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. on your own or with a group of AHEPPP colleagues, then join us for dinner in the Zoofari Party Area from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Zoo Experience includes:

  • Round-trip transportation from The Dana to the San Diego Zoo
  • Admission to San Diego Zoo
  • Unlimited access to regularly scheduled public shows and attractions including public Guided Bus Tour, Skyfari Aerial Tram, and Express Bus
  • A buffet dinner after the park closes for AHEPPP attendees from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
  • Second admission ticket to San Diego Zoo – a one-day visit, valid for up to 30 days beginning November 11, 2014.

 Back to the top of the page

Membership Spotlight

AHEPPP has a geographically diverse membership. With 141 institutions as a part of AHEPPP, in each newsletter one or two members and a board member will be featured. This month, read about Tyna Adams, Branka Kristic, and Dawn Bruner.

Tyna Adams, Ph.D., AHEPPP Member
Tyna AdamsHometown:
Brenham, TX

Hobbies: Knitting, sewing, reading, and traveling

Current Institution: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Q: Tell us how you first started working with parents.
A: I began working with parents during my time as a professional area coordinator for housing and residence life at a previous institution. My interactions with parents involved housing and roommate issues as well as behavioral issues.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your dissertation topic and why you choice this topic?
A: My dissertation topic surrounded parent expectations of teaching and caring at different kinds of higher education institutions. I wanted to examine parent expectations and how they differed by type of institution. Additionally, I wanted to examine parent expectations based on parent characteristics of gender, race, education, and their student’s classification.

The reason that I chose this topic was because of my previous interactions with parents in residence life. Some parents seemed to arrive on campus with expectations that the institution and staff would cater to their student’s every need. This led to me question how we were currently serving this parent population. I began to think about what parents expected from the institution and staff and why they might hold those expectations. Additionally, I wondered how the institution and staff were addressing those expectations.

My experiences with parents have taught me that they have definite expectations of the university and its staff and faculty. How those expectations came to be might be based on prior university experiences, institutional marketing, or other influences. Parent expectations of the institution warrant exploration so that we can better understand what they expect from us. My hope from the beginning was that by learning more about parent expectations of the institution, we could build stronger relationships with parents that would benefit the institution and the success of the students we serve.

Q: How would you summarize your research? What do you think is most important for those working with parents/families to know?
A: Parents do have expectations of the institution to teach and care for their student. Those expectations differ based on gender, educational background, and race/ethnicity. Parents who are mothers, non-college graduates, African American and Latino have higher expectations of teaching and caring. Additionally, parents of freshman students have higher expectations of caring than others.

Institutions tend to use a one-size-fits-all approach to parent orientations that could be adjusted to better meet expectations of mothers and fathers. Parent sessions may need to include more information about the teaching and caring functions of the institution. Specifically, including institutional partners who can be viewed as caring for students (Counseling Center, Student Health Center, Dean of Students, Academic Advising) in parent orientation sessions may be necessary to meet expectations of mothers. Additionally, giving parents an opportunity to hear from faculty members about learning outcomes and their perspectives on teaching would give parents an opportunity to ask questions as well as gain insight into what faculty expect from students. Delivery of more detailed information specifically for parents may help avoid unrealistic expectations and result in a stronger partnership between parents and the institution. Creation of a parent handbook online as well as in paper format and in Spanish may also help those parents not familiar with higher education. We tend to think that all parents have a good idea of what the institution has to offer and assume that they have done the research to understand what programs and resources are available to their student. Creation of online resources (orientation modules, advising information, etc.) and actual paper parent handbooks will go a long way toward helping to make parents an informed partner in their student’s education. Additionally, making these resources available in Spanish will enable all parents to benefit.

Most importantly we need to be assessing how we are meeting parent expectations and be flexible and open to making changes in our orientation sessions and programming for parents. Doing this will go a long way toward building a strong relationship between parents and the institution.   

Q: What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
A: Working with parents can be much easier than you may think. They have their student’s best interest at heart. Most of the time, they are uninformed about resources and/or policy and are trying to figure out how best to help their student with an issue or concern. Once they have the information needed, they are in a better position to understand how to move forward. Being a parent myself, with grown children, has helped me to establish that rapport with parents.  

Q: What advice do you have for new professionals who are working with parents/families?
A: The ability to see things from the parent perspective is important. It is also important to understand that the parent is going to remain a part of the student’s educational experience and building a partnership with them is important. Each of us has the same end goal in mind - success of the student. Maturity and experience working with parents is definitely important, as parents won’t take you seriously if they don’t feel that you truly understand their perspective.  

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about current parents and families of college students?
A: Information and consistent messages across departments and the institution are important. The more information and resources that the parent has access to, the better they are equipped to help their student. At orientation, we should arm the parents with career and major information as well as policy and institutional information. Informing parents is as important as informing our students. Parents are stakeholders in their student’s education and their involvement is not going to lessen. 

Q: What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
A: Totally online orientations for students and parents with videos and interactive modules (in English and Spanish) will become more commonplace. This will make orientation much more efficient and economical for parents and students who live out of state or a distance from campus. Those institutions that still conduct orientation sessions on campus will begin to expand and tailor their offerings to parents to better inform and include them in the orientation process. I think that the field is currently evolving and changing as we learn more about the parents of our students. It will be exciting to see how things change now that there is more research data available in the field.

Branka Kristic, Treasurer and Conference Program Co-Chair, AHEPPP Board of Directors

Branka KristicHometown: Queens, New York

Hobbies: Loves yoga, walking the waves of the Jones Beach, Long Island, NY

Current Institution: Hofstra University

Q: Tell us how you first started working in the field of parent relations.
A: My colleague from a previous institution became the VP of Student Affairs at Hofstra and asked me to come with her and create the Office of Parent and Family Programs. I've truly loved the challenge of creating a new program from scratch. And I learned everything I know from my AHEPPP colleagues.

Q: What programming are you implementing in the upcoming year or what initiative have you implemented that you’re most proud of?
A: In addition to family weekend and parent orientation, we organize the siblings day, coordinate the Parent Council, help recruit parents to attend the Gala that raises funds for scholarships, and manage all communications with Hofstra parents of undergraduates. We recently implemented web chats and have grown our Hofstra Parents Facebook. Coordinating the Parent Council is the most challenging task for us, as any of us who deal with volunteer boards can certainly attest. Maybe because of that fact, I am most proud of their engagement and success in fundraising.

Q: What do you love about the field of parent/family relations?
A: I know that my work with parents influences student success. The calmer, informed, engaged parents give space to their students to grow. And who else is a better ambassador for your school than a parent satisfied with his/her student's experience?

Q: What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
A: What has surprised me the most about working with parents is how few of the helicopter parents I've seen. Not that those few don't take much of your time, but most of the parents are reasonable and eager to learn how to guide their children through college.

Q: What advice do you have for new professionals in this field?
A: Assess your programs. The numbers will prove your worth to the institution. Also, volunteer on cross-divisional committees.

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about current parents and families of college students?
A: Current parents and families of college students are more involved than a generation ago. What is more surprising, students want their parents to be involved. We need to educate both that it is in the student's interest to manage his or her academic careers and make and own decisions. On the other hand, I don't think we are effective enough in reaching first-generation families.

Q: What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
A: Higher education institutions will have no choice but to deal with parents of college students. The growing issues on campus such as mental health and crises situations require a planned approach in serving and informing parents. A comprehensive parent and family programs office is the best way to meet some of these issues. I know that many of my colleagues are asked to work with parents only part of their time. I feel this does disservice to institutions and, ultimately, to students.

Q: What do you love most about being a part of AHEPPP?
A: I cannot tell you what AHEPPP means to me. Professionally, I learned about parent programming, communication, handling crises, cross-divisional collaboration, really everything about how to manage parent programming, through my AHEPPP colleagues and its publications. The best and most useful conferences I've been to were both regional and national AHEPPP conferences. But even more so, I still marvel at the forthright, generous with time, full of good, relevant advice my parent programs colleagues provide on a daily basis. Thank you, AHEPPP members!

Dawn Bruner, Secretary and Conference Program Co-Chair, AHEPPP Board of Directors

Dawn BrunerHometown: Rochester, NY

Reading; volunteering in NICU; Qi Gong; Tai Chi (beginning); relaxing on my front porch

Current Institution: University of Rochester

Q: Tell us how you first started working in the field of parent relations.
A: My introduction to parent relations came when I worked at a small institution in North Carolina (Elizabeth City State University) in the Counseling and Testing Center.  In that office, we managed counseling, testing, and orientation. There I became more familiar with parents of college students, and their needs and concerns.  A couple of years after returning home to Rochester, NY, the University of Rochester created my position. I was intrigued because it seemed like a great position where my skills would work well, particularly the counseling and orientation experience. I looked forward to the opportunity to focus on the parent/family population.

Q: What programming are you implementing in the upcoming year or what initiative have you implemented that you’re most proud of?
A: I am most proud of our new efforts with first-generation students and families. These efforts include celebrating them during orientation with a special luncheon program and developing a new resource pamphlet and website especially for first-generation families and upcoming outreach/events.  I am proud to not only be a part of but lead our encouragement of students and informing families how they can be supportive. We’ve engaged faculty and staff who were first-generation students, and we are looking to expand on their interests to connect with and support current students. Through my desire to engage first-generation students and families, I’ve developed new partnerships across campus, and I’m helping to educate our community regarding first-generation students and families.

Q: What do you love about the field of parent/family relations?
A: I love meeting and being a resource to parents along their journey.  Seeing them laugh, cry, be angry or ecstatic—we become a part of so much.  Also, I love that they always remember us.  I have had a parent stop me at commencement and say that she never needed to call over the four years, but she kept my card and wanted to say thank you for something I said during orientation. I appreciate that they are so grateful for the work that we do, even if they do not ever need us.

Q: What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
A: Honestly, I can’t think of anything that has surprised me about working with parents and family members. Unfortunately, I am often more surprised by some of the comments made by some higher education professionals about parents and family members of college students.

Q: What advice do you have for new professionals in this field?
A: I’ve said before and I believe it continues to be important--be willing to start over every day. Sometimes we are pulled in so many directions, often we have difficult conversations, and there may even be days where we do not feel as valued as we would like.  Still, it is important not to bring all of that baggage to the next day of working with new parents. In addition, I would say do not be afraid to advocate for special populations, be they first-generations families, parents/families of students with disabilities, international families, etc.

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about current parents and families of college students?
A: The majority of parents/families of college students come from a place of concern and they mean well. I find that I always use this language when others respond to the type of work we do.  Oftentimes, parents of college students ‘get a bad rap.’ I think it is our job to debunk the myth that all parents of college students are a nightmare. Of course, we all may have a horror story, but they are few and far between, especially compared to the hundreds of appreciative, kind, spirited, and amazing parents who are a part of our days.

Q: What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
A: I believe we will need to continue to broaden our definition of family and continually adjust our programs and services to meet the needs of families. For so long, diversity was the buzz word in higher education.  More and more, it is necessary that we begin to focus on inclusion in parent/family relations and higher education in general. Our campuses have become increasingly diverse and it is essential to pay attention to and address the areas we are lacking. I think we will see more creative uses of social media, more translation of program information in multiple languages, alternatives to on-campus orientation programs to engage those who historically are not attending programs, etc.   

Q: What do you love most about being a part of AHEPPP?
A: I loved the connections. The fact that we have this community of folks who ‘get it’ is fantastic!    

Back to the top of the page

Family Weekend Programming Ideas

As you plan for family weekend, here are some fun ideas to support parent engagement.

Featured Program: Parents Weekend - University of South Carolina
Featured program submitted by Katie Hambrick, Coordinator of Parents Programs, and Melissa Gentry, Director of Communication and Events

MascotsOver the past decade, the University of South Carolina has seen tremendous growth in the number of participants and activities offered during the annual fall Parents Weekend. In 2006, the university welcomed 740 families for a total of 2,369 participants to campus for Parents Weekend, while 2013 brought 2,856 families and a total of 9,840 participants—that’s nearly 10,000 people and a 301% growth over seven years!

Parents Weekend events have grown from about five events in 2006 to now include social events, educational sessions, open houses, drop-ins, receptions, athletic events, and so much more. During Parents Weekend 2013, families could visit 16 Friday classes and participate in 88 events/activities offered by 52 campus offices/departments. Collaboration with campus partners is vital to continue increasing the number of events that families can participate in during the weekend as we try to educate more and more families about resources available for students at Carolina—while they have fun too! The signature events include a welcome reception at the President’s House on the university’s historic Horseshoe, the Carolina Beach Bash around the outdoor pool at the wellness and fitness center, a 5K run/walk, and the Parents Weekend Tailgate Party. University of South Carolina faculty, staff, and administration take pride in showing all families an unforgettable Gamecock weekend. With many families coming to South Carolina from hometowns outside the Southeast, Parents Weekend is an introduction to the Southern culture that their students now call home.

USC FamilyThe Carolina Beach Bash is one event that introduces family members to that Southern culture through food and music. Held on Friday evening from 8 to 11 p.m. around the outdoor pool at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, this event features traditional Southern food like shrimp and grits, peach barbecue chicken bites, banana pudding, pecan pie, and more. Beach music, along with today’s popular music, plays all night for families to dance their favorite moves or do South Carolina’s state dance–the shag. If dancing is not their cup of tea (sweet tea, of course!), they can play a game of corn hole or get a family photo in the photo booth with Carolina’s award-winning mascot, Cocky. In 2013, the event was expanded to include not just the pool area but also an intramural field located across from the pool, and it drew nearly 3,000 participants.

Another signature event is the popular Parents Weekend Tailgate Party held on Saturday before the football game. The location has varied over the years, but in 2013, nearly 7,000 people gathered on the football team’s practice field across from Williams-Brice Stadium for a traditional pre-game celebration. Guests enjoy live music from a local band as well as a visit from the Carolina Marching Band and the cheerleaders. Families line up for their chance to take a photo with Cocky and his parents. George Rogers, Carolina’s only Heisman Trophy winner, often stops by so fans can take photos with his trophy. Traditional tailgate fare includes chicken fingers, fried catfish bites, hot dogs, barbecue, and more!

We advertise Parents Weekend using a variety of methods. Advance registration is required, so we send a postcard to every undergraduate student’s home during the summer outlining the date and registration information. In addition, information is included in monthly parent e-newsletters, ads are placed in campus publications and the student newspaper, and it is promoted heavily during summer orientation.  We share Parents Weekend details with top university administration as well as staff around campus to enlist their help in encouraging students’ families to register for Parents Weekend.

Family Weekend EventsIf your college or university is working on growing your family/parents weekend programming, our advice is to reach out to your campus. In 2007, we sent letters and set up meetings to enlist the help of faculty and staff to host events around campus during that weekend. After taking a look at how much money families were spending to register for the weekend, travel to Columbia and stay for the weekend, we wanted to be able to offer them as many activities as possible to make their time and money worthwhile. As a result of this outreach, our campus responded, and the weekend grew from an Office of Parents Programs program to a true university-wide celebration. In addition, research what’s already going on and add that to the schedule. Ask parents what types of activities they want to attend, and ask students too! We want students to enjoy the weekend as much as their families. And finally, develop a communication plan to advertise and promote the weekend. It’s important to have the whole university involved in getting the word out to students and their families.

For more information about USC’s Parents Weekend and to see the schedule of events for 2014, please visit www.sa.sc.edu/parents

Family Weekend Career Networking - Vanderbilt University
Featured program submitted by Megan Koontz, Assistant Director, Parents & Family Programs

During our Family Weekend, we collaborate with the Center for Student Professional Development (career center) for a Friday evening networking opportunity we call “Soiree at Sarratt” (Sarratt is basically the student union building here at Vanderbilt).

This event offers undergraduate students the opportunity to connect with professionals (parent volunteers) in various industries and occupations (examples from years past: NASA, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Raymond James, etc) from all over the country. These parents share their professional experiences and details about the cultures of their respective regions with students in an informal and engaging, small-group setting. The event also features food, music, and plenty of time for networking (parents are encouraged to bring business cards). The environment is laid back, but very beneficial for students seeking the chance to network. Students have the opportunity to meet representatives from a number of areas and career paths, and in turn, discover resources, make connections, and learn other invaluable information. Often, the conversations between parents and students shed some light on how the representative may not have navigated the clearest of pathways in order to achieve the status or position where he/she may be now. It alleviates some of the students’ stress of feeling as though he/she must have everything figured out before he/she graduates.

Family Weekend Promotional Video - University of California, San Diego
This video is from 2013, but it's still a great video to get parents excited for a great weekend! What promotional materials do you send to parents for Family Weekend? Send them to Alyssa at [email protected] to be posted on the resources section of the AHEPPP site.



 Back to the top of the page

What Would You Do?Question Mark

A student is transported to an area hospital by a university ambulance. She is admitted to the mental health unit but asks both the ambulance driver and the nurse NOT to contact her mother. The student says that it would be detrimental to her treatment and is much of the reason she is there in the first place. They comply with the student's wishes and don't call.
 The parent calls the Parents Office days later when she receives a call from the hospital for insurance information.  Of course, the mother is furious with "the University" for transporting her daughter to the hospital and not letting her know. How do you respond?

Back to the top of the page

Job Postings

AHEPPP hosts a Job Posting page. It’s free for anyone to post a position in the field of parent relations. As a member you will be notified when new postings are listed. Please send postings to [email protected].

This past month the following positions were posted:

  • Associate Director of Family Engagement, Columbia University
  • Leadership Giving Officer, Parents (Resource Development), MIT

Back to the top of the page

In the News: What You May Have Missed

As a busy professional, you may not always make the time to read every article about parents or catch every new resource available to families, so we've included a few from the past two months that we think are worth reading.

Parent Orientation

College Orientations for Parents Help Ease Separation Pains

How Millenials are Killing It in the Workplace

Parents and Student Affairs
Video Discussion: Parents as Partners with Student Affairs

Sexual Assault on Campus
Video Discussion: Sexual Assault on Campus

Empty Nest
Bye-Bye Birdies: Sending The Kids Away to College
High Low Glitter

Back to the top of the page