Quarterly Connector
March 2022

In this Issue

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President's Perspective

Chelsea Petree

February always feels like the longest month to me, even though it’s the shortest. Living in western New York, February is dark, cold, and dreary. I’m over the high from the holidays I felt in January and not quite to the anticipation of spring I feel in March. February is just blah. This year felt particularly difficult as I reflected upon the fact that it was two years ago this month that coronavirus was first mentioned in my parent newsletter. In the utter exhaustion of living two years in a pandemic, the negative started to get to me. All I could focus on was the complaints of parents and criticisms of our students, and it was bringing me down…until one student showed me that there is still so much good in this world and on our campuses…

I’ve been taking my student employees out for lunch each Friday. One week, as I tried to pay, I realized my pro-card was expired (oops). No big deal, I just grabbed my personal card, forgetting that RIT does not accept AmEx (double oops). STILL no big deal, we could use my account number for the charge. As all this was going on, the student behind me in line offered to pay for my lunch using her dining account.

This student did not know me. She did not know that I was paying with my work account. She did not care that I was clearly not a student who may have needed some financial help. She just saw someone struggling and wanted to help. I was blown away by her kindness and quick willingness to assist someone in need.

My perspective changed after that, or maybe I just opened my eyes to what was around me. I noticed students giving away free roses on Valentine’s Day to strangers. I saw a student surprising their friend with ice cream just because. I got to hug my colleague congratulations when she got the promotion she has worked so hard for and truly deserves. These happy moments and random acts of kindness were suddenly everywhere. I just hadn’t been noticing them.

I have also been able to see the good side of people right within AHEPPP as we launched our brand-new online community in February. This platform is a way for all of our members to connect, ask questions, and share resources without the need for a Facebook account. In the few short weeks since our launch, I’ve been thrilled with the engagement and response. As always, your fellow AHEPPP members are quick to share resources and give advice, whether your question is about parent councils, student training, or feral cats (our most popular post yet!) Similar to the student who quickly offered to buy my lunch, you all never hesitate to support and uplift one another. Especially now, as we enter into year three of this pandemic that did not last just two weeks, this community is particularly important and I am appreciative of each and every one of you.

If you are dealing with a long winter as I am or just trying to get through the semester, my wish for this spring is that you see the good in the world and get to be a part of it.  

Chelsea Petree

Director, Parent & Family Programs | RIT

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Spring Summits

The AHEPPP Regions are excited to host both virtual and in-person Summits this Spring! These small group Summits are a great way to connect with other campus-based professionals in the field and share best practices. Casual and affordable, AHEPPP Summits offer you an intimate and safe space to learn and build community with your fellow experts.

In-person: Space is limited for each in-person event, so please register early.

Virtual: Focusing on Engagement and Communication, these half-day summits serve to bring together campus-based professionals who work with parents and families in an effort to explore best practices and advocate for/foster engagement with the family members of college students. All sessions will be live, providing an opportunity to interact with the speakers and fellow attendees. After the live sessions, round-tables will be hosted for participants to discuss the sessions or network with their colleagues. We hope you will join us for one or all of the sessions as we learn together!

Registration: Please register for each Summit individually. Pricing and registration details are below.



Per Person Price

Deadline to Register

Emerson College
Boston, MA

March 11
9 am-4 pm EST


March 1

UC Boulder
Boulder, CO

March 21 - 22


March 14

The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

April 6 - 7


March 29

Virtual Summit on Engagement

April 1
12-4 pm EST


March 25

Virtual Summit on Communication

April 14
12-4 pm EST


April 7

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Parents & COVID Study | 3rd-Wave Data Available

Beginning in summer 2020, the Department of Family Social Science and Minnesota Extension at the University of Minnesota partnered with AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education to recruit and survey parents from across the country to understand the impact that the pandemic has made on the family’s role in their students’ college experience. We surveyed parents twice during 2020 and once in 2021. A report is available from each of the three surveys on this website:

Membership Matters

There is no other organization solely dedicated to supporting your work with families and providing you a community of colleagues who understand what you do. When you commit to AHEPPP you are giving back to the field of parent/family engagement and the body of practitioners who conduct this important work. Thank you for renewing your membership and a sincere welcome to those who have just recently joined!

AHEPP Member LogoThis quarter we welcome 4 into our professional family:

Eastern Washington University
Framingham State University
Marywood University
University of Michigan

Institutional Memberships are a value for you and your campus colleagues. You can include up to 4 individuals per account. We encourage you to invite your supervisor, grads, or campus partners to join you!

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Join the Conversation!

Online Community ScreenshotWe know how much you value networking with your AHEPPP friends and colleagues through conferences, regional events, workshops, and other programs. This is how we learn best – through one anothers' experiences and expertise. Our new Online Community builds on these connections by creating an environment for all members to connect and engage by sharing best practices and advice, exchanging resources, and building relationships. Our association is proud to offer you our newest members-only resource - the AHEPPP Online Community.

Not sure how to get started? - click here to watch a quick tutorial.

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AHEPPP & The Chronicle of Higher Education

Managing the 21st Century Parent Cover

AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education is compromised of over 700 experts in the field of parent and family relations. As the only association in the world solely focused on college student success through family engagement, it's natural that the higher education industry looks to our members for advice, trends, and best practices on working with this important population. We're proud of our members who contributed to the recent Chronicle of Higher Education publication Managing the 21st Century Parent.

Have you been featured lately in the news or on campus? Do you have a new article or publication? Please share with us by emailing [email protected]

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2022 National Conference

AHEPPP: Family Engagement in Higher Education invites professional staff, faculty, community partners, and graduate students from all academic disciplines and departments to consider presenting a program at the 2022 Family Engagement in Higher Education National Conference November 2 - 4 in Orlando, Florida.

As family engagement 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! More information is available on the Call for Programs page and on the 2022 National Conference Website.

Important Dates:

February 25 | Educational programs proposal submission process is open 

Mid-March | Educational programs peer reviewer application process begins

April 5 | Deadline for peer reviewer applications

April 29 | Deadline for educational program proposals at 11:59 p.m. EST (8:59 p.m. PST)

May 1 | Conference registration opens
Mid-June | Notification of selected educational programs

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Coming Soon: College Ready 2022

AHEPPP in partnership with Associate Member Wise Action, is excited to announce College Ready 2022: Expert Advice for Parents to Simplify the College Transition. This book, written by your AHEPPP colleagues, is the perfect guide for parents preparing to send their student to college. Updates for the 2022 edition include:

  • Continued conversations to help parents think about how to talk to their students about featured topics throughout the first year
  • What happens when something goes wrong?, a NEW chapter to help parents prepare for a scary call from their student or a campus-wide emergency
  • Is your student sophomore ready?, a NEW chapter to help families think about what comes after the first year and how to plan ahead

Bulk sales for College Ready 2022 will open this month and the book will be available in print and electronically at the end of April, just in time for decision day!

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Remembering AHEPPP Founding Member Sheila Hrdlicka

We are deeply sorry to say goodbye to AHEPPP Founder, Sheila Hrdlicka, who passed away January 4, 2022, in Durham, NC. At a time when colleges and universities were just beginning to encourage parental involvement, Sheila was a pioneer in the field. Her work with parents and families began when she became a member of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Parents’ Council. Her organizational and planning skills impressed UNC administrators so much that they invited her to become the university’s Parents Office Coordinator. That position led to her appointment as Assistant Director of New Student and Carolina Parent Programs, a role she filled for twelve years. Sheila smiling at AHEPPP Conference

Sheila’s innovative and comprehensive services for families were a model for other schools, especially her communications and events to welcome students and their parents into the UNC family. In the years before everything went online, she was known as the creator of the “one-inch thick” parent handbook that she offered as a template for other schools. She encouraged colleagues across the country to use what they could and be creative in developing new ideas that would reflect the culture of their own campuses.

As one AHEPPP member has described her, Sheila was the ultimate “sharer and supporter.”  Read more...

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