Congratulations to our 2020 Family Engagement in Higher Education Institutional Award Winners!

A highlight of the AHEPPP membership experience is the learning from peer institutions and colleagues. As the premier association for Family Engagement at the collegiate level, AHEPPP is pleased to recognize excellence in programming, communication, research, and service at our National Conference each fall. Nomination/Application information is available hereCongratulations to last year's institutional award winners!

Best Institutional Initiative—The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach | Parent and Family Association and Parent Ambassador Program.

“Based on strong communication, and the will to create the best educational experience possible for our students, the Parent and Family Association and Parent Ambassador Program were created.”  Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach’s Parent and Family Council “has grown to over 5,000 parent and family members with communication tools ranging from a parent portal to several Facebook pages.  Beyond the benefits of improved communication and a sense of community, their parents and family members give back to the university in so many ways by representing the university at recruiting events all over the country on a voluntary basis and with their own money.”  “Indirectly, their influence has been immeasurable in terms of recruitment and mentoring parents and families while influencing our entire community in so many positive and mutually beneficial ways!”

In a letter of support from one of the parents, the parent writes, “The Parent Advisory Council’s Ambassador program allows parents to stay connected and involved while their student is in school, and it helps them build relationships with each other. Involving these parents in the regional presentations is invaluable because having a local, active, knowledgeable parent at the events is a cost-effective way to put prospective parents at ease and build our community.”

Excellence in Publication-Print— University of North Texas

In the world of parent and family calendars, some of us think we have seen it all. But, the University of North Texas has taken their “Seasons of Adjustment” calendar to a new level by providing the following:

  • contact information for campus resources 
  • a narrative about what their student might be experiencing each month
  • action items for families to support their student
  • important dates and deadlines
  • the Athletics schedule
  • and other campus wide events.

The University of North Texas distributes their calendar at each of their orientation sessions and also to their Parent Association members.

Excellence in Publication-Digital— UCLA  

“With the recognition that incoming families were utilizing Instagram more frequently, the University of California-Los Angeles began working strategically to transform their Instagram account from an underutilized tool to a highly effective resource for families and the broader campus community.”  “Through two-and-a-half years of slowly developing and refining the Instagram strategy, UCLA has seen enormous growth in all areas of the platform from followership, to post engagement and reach, to utilization of Instagram features such as stories and analytics.”

“Reimaging their Instagram account not only provided an alternative space for family engagement, but also created opportunities for student interns to lead the way with platform strategy and content management.  Professional staff tasked students with creating a strategic content plan, developing post schedules, interacting with followers, and interpreting analytics through quarterly platform updates.  These efforts combined led to a solid approach that has, for the first time this year, seamlessly transitioned from one set of graduating interns to the newest members of the student intern team." 

“By intentionally focusing on increasing their Instagram presence, the team has been able to better engage with families, create more awareness of their resources and create a more impactful internship experience for students.”

Powerful Partnerships—Johnson & Wales University 

Johnson & Wales Parent and Family Relations office partnered with many other offices on campus including Residential Life, Campus Dining, Counseling Services, Student Involvement, and the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct to create their Wildcat Support Series.  The series was designed to connect families with campus resources, while also addressing any questions or concerns they may have at various points throughout the year.  

To create their support series, they started by identifying and establishing a timeline for relevant “hot topics” of interest to their families.  This was done by reviewing social media trends, telephone calls, and emails submitted to their Parent and Family Relations office.  Then they divided topics by live social media chats and pre-recorded videos.

They stated that their support series would not be possible without the support of many university stakeholders. Their willingness to participate in chats, recorded video sessions, and communicate with families directly, is invaluable.


Sarah Joslyn is the Coordinator of New Student and Family Programs at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. She is a three time AHEPPP Conference Team Member. 

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