Blog

A Crash Course in Podcasting

Since fall 2017, the UCLA Parent & Family Association (PFA) has produced Bruin Family Insights (BFI), a program exploring topics important to college parents and families. BFI’s original iteration was a successful monthly, hour-long YouTube Live program. During the 2019-20 academic year, however, there was a significant decrease in program engagement and the series became more difficult to produce. With university podcasts gaining momentum and the 2020 PFA Annual Survey showing that about 70% of respondents had at least some interest in podcasts, our team sensed an opportunity to engage families through a new medium; thus, BFI 2.0 – the podcast! – was born.

Read More

The Grounding Moment Challenge

As family program professionals, we often talk about engaging families in supporting their students’ mental health, and I can only imagine these types of interactions with families have increased during the pandemic. We might be working with campus partners and family members to figure out how to best support a student. We may even be tangentially navigating a family member’s mental health. We go to trainings and sessions on how to support students and their families. We read articles and consult with mental health professionals. But how often do we talk about our own mental health? How often are we taking time to make sure we are filling up our cup before we are helping others fill their own?

Read More

New Data on Family Engagement & Services

I’m pleased that the 2021 Family Engagement and Services at Colleges and Universities – our 10th biennial survey – is now available! Each time we post a new report for that survey, I can’t help but think back to the first effort in 2003 and consider how much has changed. In 2003, we parent/family practitioners were still in the early stages of finding each other. Our main source of connection was at the annual APPI conference (Administrators Promoting Parent Involvement), hosted by Susan Brown at Northwestern University. (The first conference was in 1998). Aside from that, we were trying to track each other down at NODA conferences, or we were stalking one another at NASPA and ACPA, hunting for any programs that related to parents and hoping to meet someone who did what we do.

What we knew in 2003:

Read More

Fall 2021 Presidential Update

Dear Valued AHEPPP Member,

For the first time in two years, your AHEPPP Board of Directors met in person for a two-day retreat in Raleigh, NC last week. After the hugs and excited greetings, we dove into work and discussed in depth the growth of our association, needs of our members, and our plan for 2022 and beyond.

As many of you have shared, 2021 was, in many ways, even more difficult than 2020. Along with navigating the continued impact of COVID on your campuses, there have been more incidences targeting our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community in both professional and personal spaces. Some of our members are hurting, and we hear you. 

AHEPPP recognizes the critical need for equity, belonging, and inclusion in our association, work, and lives, and this continues to be a core value of the organization. The language we use -“equity and belonging” as opposed to “diversity” - is intentional and based on feedback from our members and the newly-formed EBI Council (read more in this Insights blog post). The Board of Directors acknowledges that we have a lot of work to do in this area and, though we may make mistakes along the way, we will never stop striving to be a safe, supportive and inclusive space for all of our members. We welcome the hard work that is ahead of us, and invite everyone to be part of the continued conversation. 

A common theme of our discussions last week was the desire for consistent transparency with our membership. In order to do this, we plan to provide the following to our members moving forward: 1) summaries of the Board’s in-person retreats twice a year; 2) targeted Insights Blog posts that explain the work we do; 3) opportunities to connect in a variety of ways with our membership to make sure we are hearing all voices. We also want to encourage our members to familiarize themselves with the association Bylaws, which outline AHEPPP policies and processes, available on the AHEPPP website.

On the heels of two of the most difficult years of our lives, AHEPPP strives to be a space where we can all provide one another grace and support the collective understanding of our work and appreciation for us as professionals and individuals. We are grateful to be in the position to make change alongside you—our members and our friends. 

Please find our December 2021 meeting notes here, including agenda highlights, 2021 successes, and the 2022 work plan.

Thank you, valued AHEPPP member, for your engagement in and support of our association. I’m looking forward to seeing you in the new year!

Chelsea Petree, Ph.D.
AHEPPP President

Remembering Kris Stewart

In loving memory of former AHEPPP president and founding member, Kristine (Kris) Stewart.

Read More

The Do’s and Don’ts of Engaging Families with Facebook

Remember this statement – Facebook is your friend. Use it. Share it. Be proactive with it. Most importantly, engage with families on it. A few years ago, the Mountaineer Parents Club at West Virginia University decided to utilize Facebook groups to communicate with families. Our official Facebook page was often inundated with personal messages from prospective and current families asking us similar, if not the same questions.

Read More

Nicki Jenkins Elected to the BOD

Congratulations to Nicki Jenkins! Nicki was elected by her peers to serve as the new member of the AHEPPP Board of Directors! Nicki will serve a three year term beginning in January of 2022.

Read More
1 Comments

Have you Met Lexie McCarthy?

Get to know Lexie McCarthy, Director of Parent & Family Relations at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Lexie is a two-time member of the Family Engagement in Higher Education National Conference Team and is this year's Technology Chair.

Read More

National Conference Creates Lasting Connection

Like many, I fell into my career in higher education. I started straight out of my undergrad in the world of admissions. I took to the open road of the travel season, hustling to recruit applicants and convert admits into deposits. It was fun, but it felt forced. I wasn't as comfortable as other counselors. Small talk isn’t my forte and quiet was how I recharged. I am one of the few that would retreat to my hotel room after college fairs and a day of forced interactions rather than meeting up and debriefing high school visits and travel routes. For years this didn’t change, regional meetings, team outings and professional conferences were all the same--until I met AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education.

Read More

Membership Spotlight on Ben Williams

Meet Ben Williams Director of Director, New Student Orientation & Family Engagement at Georgia State University. Ben is the Region 3 Chair and a member of the Equity, Belonging & Inclusion Task Force. Ben will also be hosting an AHEPPP family engagement Spring Summit in 2022 in Atlanta.  

How did you become involved with AHEPPP?
When I got my new role at Georgia State, joining AHEPPP was a top priority and when emails came out I said yes! It's been a great experience.

Tell us how you first started in the field of Parent & Family Relations.
I started working in family engagement when I became the Assistant Director of Orientation at Georgia State. It has been a great opportunity to build a program back up and engage with family members across our 6 campuses.

What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
The incredible opportunities to build partnerships that help students and families succeed. Some of my favorite interactions start with frustrated families that allow for us to work together to support their students success.

What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
I think we will need to focus on how family members are important partners in the enrollment, retention, and progression conversations on campus. Leveraging data to tell our stories of how engaging families help us contribute to student success.

When you're not working with parents and families, how do you like to spend your time? 

As a PhD student and dog dad, most of my time is spent with loved ones and in books. I love my work, but know it is crucial to find ways to recharge my batteries.

What is the last book you read?
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Who inspires you? Why?

I am continually inspired by my mom, even though she is no longer here. She grew up in the geographic center of Texas with dirt floors and went on to do all sorts of wonderful things. In her final years, she was a House Mom for Delta Zeta at Texas State and reminded me each day it is not our experiences, but how we respond that show who we are.

If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
breakfast....all the pancakes and bacon. :)

What's in a name? Equity, Belonging & Inclusion

What's in a name? As so many of our institutions have been closely examining what equity, belonging and inclusion means on our campuses, the AHEPPP Task Force deliberately chose its name.

Equity is a practice that understands that not all people need exactly the same resources (i.e. equality).  You may have seen the popular drawing (courtesy of Interaction Institute for Social Change” that simply demonstrates the difference between equity and equality. Equity is what the Task Force is striving for in AHEPPP; not that everyone gets the same resources, but that resources meet the needs of the membership and by extension, our students and families.

Why isn’t “access” included in the name?  The Task Force chose the term “belonging”, as the term access does not go far enough.  It is not enough to give our members access to our organization if they cannot utilize the resources.  Similarly, on our campuses, it is not enough for a student from a minority community to gain access to the college through admission.  True belonging indicates that the student gains admission and intentionally has access to the support they will need to be successful. 



Read More

Meet our CAS Representative, Dr. Christine Self

Meet Christine Self, Ph.D. - Director of Parent & Family Relations at Texas Tech University and the AHEPPP Representative to CAS.

How did you become involved with AHEPPP? Please also share any past AHEPPP volunteer roles.
I first joined AHEPPP back in 2013 (I think?) when I attended the Fall Conference in San Diego, and I was hooked! It was so wonderful to meet with colleagues from across the country who did the same kind of work with families that I did and experienced the same rewards and challenges of working as a higher education professional who works primarily with families. I have previously served on AHEPPP conference committees and now as the CAS representative. Volunteering with AHEPPP is incredibly rewarding!

What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
I’ve been surprised by how rewarding it can be to help families navigate the transition to being supporters of college students and what great partners they can be is no longer surprising to me after all of these years.

What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?

I am seeing more support for parent/family programming and communication from those outside of our areas and I hope this trend continues!

When you're not working with parents and families, how do you like to spend your time?

I love reading, cooking, hiking, and spending time with my partner and our cats.

What is the last book you read?
The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty. I highly recommend this wonderful book about the influence of African cuisine in southern cooking.

Who inspires you? Why?

I am inspired by young people. This past year, they have withstood so much change and challenges to everything we thought we knew about education and social connections. Our young people have shown themselves to be flexible and resilient during trying times, and I find that inspiring.  

If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Pizza.

Get to know Liz Vigil

Get to know Liz Vigil., Senior Family Outreach Specialist at New Mexico State University. Liz is the Region 6 Chair for AHEPPP and a member of our Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Task Force.

Read More

AHEPPP Tee Shirts Create Conference Scholarships

Now you can both promote and support your professional family... and look great doing it!

Read More

Membership Spotlight on Lynanne Jamison

Get to know Lynanne Jamison Ph.D., Director of New Student & Family Programs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Lynanne is a long-time AHEPPP member and volunteer and currently serves at the Conference Committee Assessment Chair.

Read More

Mentorship: Advice for Success

Like many institutions, Ohio State had to cancel our 2020 commencement celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Though a long time coming, on August 7, we were able to bring together our graduates, their families, and their loved ones for a celebration of their time at Ohio State.  As part of our evening together, Ryan Day, Ohio State’s football coach, and Christina Day, his wife, served as our graduation speakers.  The Days are very involved in the Ohio State community and focus their efforts on the mental health of children.  You can read more about their On Our Sleeves work here.  On this night, they took turns providing our graduates advice on their future successes.  

Read More

Leaders Wanted

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce several leadership opportunities available for AHEPPP members.

Read More

Tackling Mental Health on a College Campus

16 months. 16 months of Zoom meetings. 16 months of canceled events. 16 months of being in constant crisis mode. The 2020-2021 school year will be a memory we will never forget. 

Read More

Picture This: Family Weekend with a Twist

What is the most important aspect of Family Weekend at my college?  It is not the events we plan, the modality, the swag (although some of our swag is pretty sweet), or the food we serve -- it is the connections we are forging.  

Read More

New AHEPPP Survey Builder

My favorite part about AHEPPP is the way that we share resources. Our members—truly the best of the best—take pride in being able to share their work and programs and support one another. This is something that makes our organization stand out in the field of higher education. One area in which I personally have been able to support my colleagues over the years is by sharing the survey I send to my parents. I know that assessment is an area in which many of us struggle. In fact, data from the 2021 Survey of Family Engagement and Programs at Colleges and Universities showed that fewer than 25% of professionals who work with families are doing any type of survey of their family events, programming, and use of resources. 

Read More