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A Picture is Worth 1000 Words: Using Pictures to Get Your Message Out

If I had a dollar for every time a parent contacted our office saying, “This is the first time I’m hearing about this” or “Where was that information” or “I don’t think I ever received that email,” let’s just say I would be on the fast-track to retirement. In today’s busy world, campuses are continually challenged to find ways to get important information out to our student and parent/family populations in a timely, relevant and engaging fashion. As emails pile up and attention spans wane, enter the dynamic content options of social media. 

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Bringing Women Together: Celebrating the Multi-generational Relationships of our Students and their Families

We in parent and family programming are often collaboration experts as inherent in our roles we serve to connect our families to the institution in a variety of ways. These partnerships can help to maintain current relationships or create new ones that involve our families and their students in new ways. Our event, Bringing Women Together, was hosted as part of Women’s History Month at the University of Memphis. It was a collaborative partnership with the Parent and Family Services office and the Student Leadership and Involvement office as a celebration of the multi-generational relationships of our students and their families. To celebrate all of the generations at our institution, Lindsey Bray and Rachel Koch of the Parent and Family Services office partnered with Alison Brown, Coordinator for Student Outreach and Support, who oversees programming and services for our parenting students in the Student Leadership & Involvement office. Parent and Family Services invited our parents and their current students and Alison invited parenting students and their children to attend. At the free event, we hosted over 300 students and their family members for brunch and activities with two families in attendance having four generations present. 

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Making Inclusive Excellence a Priority in Parent and Family Programs: How We Started Our Journey at Clemson

We will start out by saying, creating a parent/ family program with inclusive excellence is a fluid and continuous process. We aren’t where we would like to be yet, but we have made significant improvements in the last few years.

To begin, here is a bit of context: Student Transitions and Family Programs at Clemson University took over retention programs for underrepresented students in 2014. At that time we had many conversations as a team on what this meant and how each and every staff member was going to need to critically examine what we were doing and what we could improve upon to strive for inclusive excellence.  We started to consistently look at what we were working on and would challenge ourselves to make it better. We were lucky to have experts in inclusive practices in our office space, and we utilized their thoughts and knowledge. At that time our unit consisted of underrepresented student retention, family programs, orientation, student leadership (for orientation and welcome week), and veteran and military programs. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on the overhauls we established within the parent and family programs unit. There were three major areas of focus: family publications, family events and our Parents’ Council (PC) (as you read through this post, you’ll notice this name changes).  

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Sorority & Fraternity Life: Family Influence

I once had a friend, who is a police officer, joke that I must have made someone mad to have the responsibility of working with both parents and Greeks at Ohio State.  Though I had never really given that much thought, from an outside perspective, I can respect that opinion.  As we all know, many of our colleagues on campus have a skeptical view of family involvement in higher education.  When you couple that with the perception about sorority and fraternity communities and the reality of the major risk management issues these organizations have faced, I can understand the sentiment.  As you can guess from my story, I have the relatively unique position of working with both parent and family engagement and our sorority and fraternity community at Ohio State.  Though many family relations offices are in Student Affairs, I have not met many professionals who also directly work with student activities, especially sorority and fraternity life.  Though my role does have unique challenges (if your role doesn’t let me know if you’re hiring) it also offers unique opportunities to strategically engage families.

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The Importance of Campus Partners

As I reflect on another year of Family Weekend at the University of Houston, I am reminded of all the people on campus I am lucky enough to call campus partners who make my job (and my life) easier. In a role that has Parent and Family Programs as fifty-percent of my responsibility, I came in knowing that in order to be successful and serve parents and families effectively I would need help. In fact, my sanity depended on it! 

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