April 2019

In this Issue

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

President's Perspectives

Greetings AHEPPP family, friends and collaborators,

I’m still in a little bit of shock that I’m actually writing a message to all of you as the AHEPPP President. Is this really happening? 

I’ve been reflecting on my time with AHEPPP as I navigate this new role and what this community has meant to me. I hope you’ll indulge me with my reflection of AHEPPP.  

In 2009, I was a newbie to the field, just 6 months into my role and relatively new to higher education. I was encouraged by a mentor to attend a national conference in my field and begin expanding my network. I chose AHEPPP—best decision ever. I remember walking into that first conference to unknown faces, attending exceptional sessions, as well as meeting knowledgeable professionals. (I stood next to Marjorie Savage, we actually talked).

When I look back at the first conference as well as my first introduction to the AHEPPP community, I guess it is similar to what our students, families and supporters feel when they are arriving on our college campuses. “What am I doing here?,” “where do I go to check in?,” and most importantly, “how am I going to do this?” I found myself asking this question a lot as I was on-boarded into the role as president, “how am I going to do this?” 

Although the answer isn’t perfectly clear yet, I am certain of a few things.

First and foremost, I’m surrounded by wonderful scholars, practitioners and some of the most caring professionals in the world. One of the gifts AHEPPP provides is an instant community, and like we tell our students, families and supporters on our campuses you have to be willing to put yourself out there to reap the benefits of that community. I’ll admit the first conference, I wasn’t maximizing my membership. I was overwhelmed and I didn’t think I had what it took to be in the same room as some of you. Once, I embraced my role as a professional in the field and really put myself out there, not only did I grow as a professional, I was a part of something bigger than myself. So, if you aren’t sure on how to connect with this community or maybe you’ve always just been a part of AHEPPP, I encourage you to do more. Attend a regional event, PRESENT at the national conference (and bring your brilliant colleagues too), volunteer, write an Insight blog, or share your wonderful ideas on the Facebook page… DO SOMETHING BIGGER. Who knows something bigger could land you into a leadership role like this, which all started with a mentor whispering in my ear, “apply to the board.” It wasn’t my goal, but it has turned into a great honor. As an association we need all of you to share your greatness and gifts so we can continue to grow and strengthen our work at our colleges and universities.

I will continue to share my reflections with all of you as the year goes on, which also leads me to my last reflection. AHEPPP just celebrated 10 amazing years. We have a wonderful foundation—thanks to founding members, past and current board members, without this exceptional leadership we wouldn’t be in this role today, inheriting a wonderful community to lead. The BOD had a productive board meeting in February where we began to create the ground work to focus on new growth and membership engagement, partnerships and supporting more regional opportunities. 

Greatness is ahead and I encourage all of you do deepen your connection within AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education.

Also, anyone want to co-present in Portland? 

Humbled and honored, alt


Amy Swank
President, AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education 
Director, Parent and Family Relations - Gonzaga University 

National Conference Update


Call for Programs

The AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education 2019 Conference Committee invites professional staff, faculty, community partners, and graduate students from all academic disciplines and departments to consider presenting a program at the 2019 National Conference in Portland, Oregon at the Hilton Portland Downtown November 4-6, 2019.

This year, we are excited to be Sharing our Story -- As parent & family program professionals, we know it is important to capture and share the experiences we facilitate that bring value to our institutional communities. Now is your opportunity to share this knowledge with your colleagues across the country! 

Deadline for educational program proposals is April 30 at 8:00p.m. EST. Submission requirements and tips available here

Call for Awards

It is time to start nominating yourself, your colleagues, and your students for the 2019 AHEPPP Awards! You could WIN A FREE MEMBERSHIP or RENEWAL to AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education. alt

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 our annual awards. Nominate your institution, a deserving colleague, and/or yourself! This is not the time to be humble. We know all AHEPPP members do outstanding work that is worth recognition. Feel free to nominate yourself!

Award submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. EST, September 8, 2019.

Nominations submitted by August 1, 2019, will be placed into a drawing to win a year's membership to AHEPPP for your institution, which includes access for up to four professionals on your campus. If you have already renewed your membership for 2019 by the deadline, the credit will apply for 2020. The drawing will take place on August 2, 2019, and the winner will be notified via email. Board of Director member institutions are not eligible for the drawing.

Award Categories, past winners, and submission details available here

Remembering Founding Member Laura Stevens

Dear AHEPPP colleagues,

It is with a heavy heart and much regret that I write to inform you of the passing of our friend, colleague, and fellow AHEPPP founder, Laura Stevens. alt

Prior to her retirement in 2013, Laura served as Parents Relations Director, at the University of Denver. Laura was an innovator for DU, creating grandparent events, cooking classes during family weekend, and insisting on “green” items for give-aways at the events she hosted. She also created a model program for parent councils; and we referred many whom were new to the field, to Laura, when developing councils on their campuses.

In addition to being a founding member of AHEPPP, Laura served as the first treasurer for our national organization and the conference chair for our inaugural national conference at the St. Julien Hotel, in Boulder, CO in 2010.

Under Laura’s watchful eye, and meticulous attention to detail, we were able to plan and implement our first conference for 100 guests to gather and form life-long bonds. Laura developed close working relationships with the executive team at the St. Julien, and together with Sarah Schupp, AHEPPP’s executive director, was able to work fiscal magic enabling us to host our first conference in this perfect location, with such a majestic backdrop. 

altAlthough it was always Laura’s preference to work behind the scenes, Laura loved AHEPPP and was especially devoted to getting to know our new members. Following each conference, I would always marvel at the minute detail she would share about each young professional she had enjoyed quiet conversation with, and how they could best prosper in our field, and with our new organization. She was a friend and mentor to many, and we will forever be grateful to our “sister” Laura for all she has done for us, both personally and professionally. 

Laura will, surely, hold a special place in my heart forever. 

On behalf of all my fellow founders, I ask that you say a special prayer for Laura and her beloved family, as they gather for Laura’s services on April 6, at 1:30p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver.

With love,

Colleen Bench
AHEPPP Founder and Inaugural Board President

Board of Directors Update: Importance of Our Regional Structure

Submitted by Ryan Lovell, AHEPPP BOD Member

Ryan Lovell, AHEPPP BODAs I’ve had some time to reflect on my first meeting as a member of the Board of Directors for AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education, one theme keeps resonating with me the most, “How can we best offer the resources that our members need to better engage families?” As the core purpose of AHEPPP, no outcome, in my opinion, could be more important for long term success of our organization. One of the key initiatives of our plans for member engagement and support is the new regional structure

Though our annual conference has always been a great way to generate discussion and ideas while infusing our members with the energy for action, finding the right way to keep this momentum going after the conference has been a concern. With our regional structures, we believe we can build upon the great work of the annual conference in offering members resources for success. Our regional chairs are hosting regular calls with all members of the region to promote not only the available resources currently offered but also to generate ideas for what other resources are needed. After just a handful of regional calls, we’ve already begun structuring the calls with some open discussion on topics you are identifying. This has included a topic like crisis communication where members can share what you currently do on your campus and get ideas and ask questions from others in your region. This is just the beginning. As regions develop and relationships are formed with institutions close to yours not only in proximity but in structure, we believe we can identify the resources you need. 

This is only possible if our members are involved and engaged. We encourage you to make the regional call a priority and join as many as your schedule allows. These calls will be offered 3-4 times per term. Do not hesitate to offer ideas for topics you’d like to discuss or resources you believe are lacking.  Be willing to share your expertise to lead discussions, perform a social media takeover or write an Insights blog. AHEPPP is most successful when our members are engaged and driving our priorities. We believe you’ll find our ever-evolving regional structure beneficial to the work you do. Help us make it your own.  

Book Review

altOut to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage 
Author: Kelly Radi

Kelly Radi is the mother of two college-age students and author of Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage, published in 2016. In the introduction, she states that she wrote this book because she couldn’t find any resources for parental support in the college transition. She wanted to provide “an honest, heartfelt, informative book written for parents of first-year college students by someone who truly grasped the tsunami of emotions I was experiencing” (p.5) and she admirably achieved this objective.

Most family engagement practitioners have a bookshelf or two (or more!) filled with books and resources on the transition from high school to college…and many of us have a favorite “go to” book that we encourage our parents and families to read prior to sending their student off to college. As her first daughter prepared for college, Radi couldn’t find this support for her family’s journey into this experience, however, she quickly realized the value in identifying potential bumps in the road (or in this case, dangerously high seas) and supporting students and families. She took the initiative to write the book from her own perspective in this journey and she addresses many of the topics that we as practitioners often discuss. “Out to Sea” is another resource to add to your inventory. In her research for the book, Radi spent time gathering stories from parents and families, various college and university personnel, and students so her approach is balanced and holistic.

As the title indicates, Radi creatively writes the entire book from a nautical approach. She speaks of the strong need students have for an anchor (their family) and the necessity for families to allow their students to set sail independently (exploring freedom and consequences of personal decisions). Chapter titles highlight the nautical theme, such as Ship-to-Shore Communications, An Ocean of Opportunities, and Tsunami.

Radi provides comprehensive information and writes from the heart. She sprinkles real-life stories–-both her own and others–-into many of the topics, along with helpful check lists and examples. She shares her own struggles with letting go, emphasized by these comments, “How do you establish boundaries when your child hits eighteen and thinks he knows it all?” and “How is it that we want our children to be independent, yet we don’t trust their judgement?” As she moves through the various topics, she is thorough and systematic, offering parental, student, and institution perspectives. She starts (launches) with preparing for college, moves through the transition of the first few weeks and first semester, into the first visit home, and addresses many potential challenges along the way. I appreciate her acknowledgment that different institutions operate in different ways and reminds the reader to check with their student’s institution for specifics. 

A helpful highlight of the book is the appendices. Radi includes a variety of care package suggestions, quotes to send students, and her own personal letter to her daughter. She also provides an excellent overview of the issues of sexual assault, drug and alcohol usage, and suicide.

The various constellations of today’s families are not discussed and Radi consistently references “parents” throughout the book. More attention regarding diversity and inclusion and guidance to other resources would be beneficial to the many students and families challenged by a new environment. As our recognition and support of LBGTQ and transgender students grows, detailed information in any future revisions of the book would be very helpful and appreciated.

Your families would benefit from both the practical information included in this book, as well as Radi’s easy-to-read approach (and the reader may learn something about sailing!). Though this book may not be “new” information for you, it’s still a valuable resource for your library and well-worth the read.

Job Postings

AHEPPP is happy to post job openings for all institutions regardless of membership. Positions will be posted on the website, posted in our members-only Facebook group and will emailed out to the AHEPPP membership. The cost is free and job information can be posted by emailing [email protected]. Positions will be posted for 60 days unless otherwise noted or requested.

Assistant Director of Parent and Family Programs, College of William and Mary
Family Programming & Communications Coordinator, UNC Chapel Hill
Coordinator, Parent & Family Services, Syracuse University
Associate Director Orientation Programs, University of Kansas
Senior Associate Director, Engagement & Annual Programs, University of California Irvine
Assistant Director of Student and Young Alumni Engagement, Biola University
Assistant Coordinator for New Student & Family Programs, Texas A&M 
Assistant Director for New Student & Family Programs, Florida State University 
Program Specialist – Parent and Family Programs, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Program Administrator: Parent & Family Programs, Auburn University

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