August 2015

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

Happy “Welcome Back to School” season!

Okay… maybe it is more bittersweet as we lament the end of summer. But, I must admit that I am excited about the return of the students and the vibrant life of campus. That is certainly something to celebrate.

As you prepare to welcome students and families to campus for move-in, Family Weekend, Homecoming, and all of the other wonderful fall traditions, I also hope you will plan for a time of inspiration and rejuvenation provided by our AHEPPP National Conference.  I can think of no better way to recharge my professional (and personal) batteries than to spend time with colleagues who “get it” and who share the joys and “oys!” that so many of us experience in our work. The AHEPPP conference has always served as a retreat for me… a sanctuary of support, a wellspring of ideas, and a connection with talented colleagues. 

The 2015 Conference Planning Committee is working very hard to plan a terrific conference. I am excited about everything they have in store for participants. Whether you are new to working with parents, you fit the category of “seasoned” (not old) professional, or you are somewhere in between, there is something for you in Savannah. Enjoy engaging programs, dynamic speakers, fantastic colleagues, great food, a stunning hotel, and a beautiful city.

In addition to attending the conference, I invite you to participate in one of our strategic plan feedback sessions in September.  Your input as a member of AHEPPP is important and necessary. More information is included below.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish you a wonderful opening and fall semester.  See you in Savannah!


Brian L. Watkins
Chair, Board of Directors

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AHEPPP2020 Strategic Plan

The AHEPPP Board of Directors met earlier this year to develop the first strategic plan for the association. The AHEPPP2020 Strategic Plan is ambitious and exciting, providing for the growth and continued advancement of our association over the next five years and beyond.  But the plan will not be finalized without your input!

We encourage you to review the draft of the strategic plan and participate in a feedback session. We are offering two feedback sessions in September so you can select the date and time that works best for you.  The sessions will be facilitated by members of the Board of Directors.

Click here for complete details and to sign up for a session.  Note: you will need to login to the AHEPPP member-only area of the website to access this information. 

Based on the feedback gathered during the sessions, the Board will revise and formally adopt the plan. The AHEPPP2020 Strategic Plan will be officially unveiled during the National Conference in Savannah on November 3-5, 2015.

The future of AHEPPP depends on a shared vision between the Board and the membership. We look forward to your participation and input.

If you have any questions, please contact Branka Kristic, AHEPPP Vice Chair, at [email protected] or 516-463-7055.

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Conference Corner

Keynote Speaker Announced
altThe Conference Planning Committee is thrilled to announce Aishah Simmons as our keynote speaker for the 2015 National Conference. Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker, television and radio producer, published writer, international lecturer, and activist. She is presently an adjunct faculty member in the  Women’s Studies and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Studies program at Temple University, where she teaches under/graduate courses, which explore the history and contemporary experiences of cisgender women and/or LGBTQ people. Simmons is the creator of the award-winning, internationally acclaimed feature length film NO! The Rape Documentary and other short movies including Silence…Broken and In My Father’s House, which explore the issues of race, gender, homophobia, rape, and misogyny. We are excited to hear how her expertise can inform our work in supporting families and fostering student success. 

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 AHEPPP leadership. The conference planning committee is pleased to announce Dr. Richard Mullendore as a featured speaker for the pre-conference event. Dr. Mullendore has been a tireless advocate for parent/family programming on college campuses for nearly four decades. He currently serves as a National Resource Center - First Year Experience and Students in Transition Fellow and Professor Emeritus of College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georgia. Please make plans to join us for this exciting and educational networking event. Register for the pre-conference today!

Volunteer for AHEPPP
Create connections during AHEPPP’s 2015 National Conference by serving as a conference volunteer! Welcome new members, re-connect with past colleagues, and network with other conference attendees, speakers, and sponsors, while giving back to the association and contributing to the success of the AHEPPP 2015 National Conference. Volunteers are needed to serve on the Awards Selection Committee and assist with conference Registration, Hospitality, and Educational Sessions.

The AHEPPP National Conference provides our association with the opportunity to recognize some of the shining stars and promising practices in the profession. The Awards Selection Committee invites nominations for several awards. Nominate your institution and/or a deserving colleague!  Award submissions are due by 5:00 p.m. on October 2nd.

Early Bird Registration EXTENDED!
Registration is currently underway! In response to your requests, Early Bird Registration has been extended to September 4, 2015. The fee structure is as follows:


Early Bird
(By September 4, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. EST)

(After September 4, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. EST)










Pre-Conference Workshop



We are pleased to include several meals within the registration cost. One breakfast, one lunch, one reception, and two dinners will be provided. The last day to register for the conference is Friday, October 16 at 5:00pm. 

Have you already registered? Use #aheppp2015 to let us know! Visit our Tagboard site to stay up to date on the conference buzz. 

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Membership Spotlight

AHEPPP has a geographically diverse membership of 160 institutional members. In each newsletter one or two members or a board member will be featured. This month get to know Sylvester Gaskin of Towson University and Kerri Fowler of North Carolina State University. 


Sylvester Gaskin, Member
AHEPPP Conference Committee Marketing Chair
Assistant Director, New Student Programs

 Fort Meade, Maryland

Hobbies: Weightlifting, cooking, watching baseball, trying to finish my dissertation
Current Institution: Towson University

Q: Tell us how you first started working in the field of parent relations.
A: I started working with families as a classroom teacher in Oakland, CA. It opened my eyes to the various issues families bring to school and how it impacts their students’ performance and view of the world. Once I transitioned to Iowa State (I went back to my alma mater), I got more involved in working with families who were having financial issues or wanted to know more about how they could support their student.

Q: What do you love about the field of parent/family relations?
A: Families come with a variety of questions and are just looking for someone who can answer honestly and genuinely cares. I enjoy providing an answer that will help families feel better about sending their student to a university and they feel like a part of the university community.

Q: What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
A: Nothing really surprises me, but the level in involvement many families have (i.e. the “helicopter” parent) is still an adjustment for me. I was a first-generation student and my family had no involvement in my college decisions.

Q: What advice do you have for new professionals in this field?
A: Families can be a valuable asset to the university community. They want to be involved, but may need guidance as to how to be supportive. Our job is to help them provide the “right level” of involvement so students can develop and families can provide help when it’s necessary.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working with parents and families of students?
A: Finding the right level of support for their student and when for them to get involved. 

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about current parents and families of college students?
A: One, they are not just a walking and talking checkbook. Two, no matter where they are on the collegiate experience or socioeconomic spectrum, they want nothing but the best for their student. Third, families want to know that we care as professionals and their student can be successful at our institutions.

Q: What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
A:I foresee us dropping “parent” and recognizing there are multiple family units that send students to college. I also see the field struggle with trying to be more inclusive of first-generation families and families of color, but I also see parent/family programming move to offer services in different languages and using tech platforms to increase access.

Q: What excites you most about the AHEPPP 2015 National Conference?
A: Outside of being in beautiful Savannah, I think it will be a grand opportunity to look at where this field has gone in a year how we can support one another. Plus, the smaller size of the conference helps with networking and making deeper connections. After my experience last year in San Diego, I was excited to be a part of planning for 2015 and hopeful to meet colleagues I had great conversations with last year!

altKerri Fowler, Member
AHEPPP Conference Committee, Pre-Conference Co-Chair
Assistant Director, Parent & Family Services

 Burlington, Vermont

Writing Blogs and Journaling along with the occasional run.
Current Institution: NC State University

Q: Tell us how you first started working in the field of parent relations.
A: Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in counseling, particularly family and adolescent counseling. Like many colleagues, my work as an undergrad in the collegiate setting carried over to post-grad work and I simply never left. Now almost ten years later I have spent my entire professional career in higher education, be it Admissions, SA, Orientation programs and conducting research. When my family relocated to Raleigh I knew I wanted to do something that provided me with the opportunity to work with parents and students Within just a few weeks of being down here I found the position at NC State and the stars aligned from there!    

Q: What do you love about the field of parent/family relations?
A: Having the opportunity to educate parents and help them prepare for the college transition, before they begin experiencing it, is one of the most exciting parts of my job. I love meeting with small groups, visit high schools, and talk to prospective parents answering questions and having open and honest conversations before the panic sets in. It helps to resolve many fears and settle some anxiety prior to them ever stepping foot on campus.

Q: What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
A: How open parents are with their feelings and how honest they are about personal parenting styles and where they might struggle in their student’s transition. We expect them to discuss their concerns about their student but most know and can express, pretty early on, their personal and familial reactions to this change and where they anticipate struggling.

Q: What advice do you have for new professionals in this field?
A: Always seek to understand first and be a listener. Often times just providing a listening ear can resolve a significant portion of the problem presented.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working with parents and families of students?
A: The more seasoned a parent is, the more difficult they can be to communicate with and assist if/when their students begin to struggle. It is as though these parents have more of an onus in their student’s education than even their student, which can create friction and sometimes delay their student’s growth development and success. The flip side being when you can break through their wall and conquer this challenge there is a great sense of accomplishment in seeing how much you were able to help them.

Q: What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about current parents and families of college students?
A: Parents and families truly are connected with their student in a way unlike many generations prior. We know they are tuned into their student, easily because of technology, but for most their student reciprocates this and it’s an impressive dynamic. I think societal assumptions lead us to believe that family dyads are far from the roots of Americana but in reality they have only gone through the same stages of evolution that society has and grown more with the times than against them. I believe this generation of parents and families are some of the most prepared and welcoming of the college transition than any of those past. This is largely due to the expectation that education has become for everyone and that it no longer is a privilege of social status. Parents, families and students more often than not, understand this and are becoming more and more open to being a part of it as a whole success.

Q: What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
A: Growth! I think parent/family relations are becoming more normative in the higher ed culture and it is exciting to be a part of that.

Q: What excites you most about the AHEPPP 2015 National Conference?
A: Getting to be a part of the planning committee for the Pre-Conference is a huge honor. Last year was my first AHEPPP conference and I had wonderful experience. AHEPPP professionals bring their expertise and participants get to network in a warm and inviting atmosphere of learning and sharing. I’m really looking forward to Savannah. 

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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]

The following jobs are live on the AHEPPP site

Associate Director of Parent and Family Relations, Johnson & Wales University
Parent & Family Coordinator, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Student Services Director, University of South Florida
Coordinator of Parent and Family Services, University of Southern Utah
Coordinator II, Special Programs, University of Texas at Arlington

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Upcoming Conferences/ Events

NODA Conference
October 24-27 | Denver, CO
Be sure to stop by the AHEPPP booth in the Exhibit Hall!

AHEPPP National Conference 
November 3-5 | Savannah, GA

ACPA Convention
March 6-9 | Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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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 that we think are worth reading.

Parenting College Students
What Overparenting Looks Like 
Parents Puzzled When New Graduates Return Home
Sending Kids to College Can Be a Shock for Connected Parents

Mental Health
Anxious Students Strain College Mental Health Centers
New Jersey Legislation Would Require College Disclose Campus Suicides

Higher Education
Higher Ed Reconsidered: A Non-Standard Assessment of Where Standards May be Taking Us?
A Year of Racial Tumult Brings Potent Lessons

It's Not Students Who Are Bearing College Costs - It's Parents

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Stay Connected

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