Parents, family and caregivers are critical to the success of college students. This week, student affairs practitioners from across the Atlantic Coast Conference gathered in Louisville to discuss how to strengthen programming for parents and families, to keep them involved in universities and support student success.
It was part of the first ACC Parent Family Symposium, which was attended by staff members at a majority of the ACC schools who work in parent and family programming. They attended workshops on UofL’s campus as well as downtown Louisville that covered topics such as programming funding, family events best practices, parent publications, parent affinity groups, parent involvement, family weekend innovative ideas, parent communication strategies, and how to maximize impact with limited staffing.
Glenn Gittings, director of special programs and the Parents Association, explained to UofL News the significance of parents groups and what he hopes attendees took away from the symposium.
UofL News: What is the UofL Parents Association?
Gittings: The UofL Parents Association is free to join for all parents and family members of UofL students. The UofL Parents Association offers programs, events and services, regular communication, and outreach to parents and families to assist students in continuing their academic success throughout their college experience.
UofL News: What is the benefit of having this type of group?
Gittings: Parents associations are designed to promote student success through informed parent and family engagement. As AHEPPP (Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Program Professionals) states: “Because of the important role that parents and families play in their students’ lives, colleges and universities must work to constructively involve parents and families in the higher education experience and promote those interested in helping accomplish this mission.”
UofL News: How did the idea for the ACC Symposium come about?
Gittings: First and foremost, the UofL Division of Student Affairs strives to utilize our campus and the city of Louisville to help attract professional development workshops, symposiums, regional meetings, and national conferences. Many of the large athletic conferences strive to have member institutions connect beyond athletics in order build better academic and student service practices among the institutions. Many other conferences have such a symposium focused on Parent & Family best practices, including the Big 12 and the Big 10. The ACC hosts similar professional development opportunities for student government leaders, as well as meetings for student service areas such as Career Development, Intramurals, Housing and Residence Life, etc. With that in mind, this idea was created among ACC colleagues who work in parent and family programs.
UofL News: Why do you think it’s important to discuss these issues with other universities in the ACC?
Gittings: The symposium is designed to provide a forum to share best practices, new ideas, putting shared ideas to use, challenges, and to promote conference collegiality (and learn fun and interesting things about the schools and the cities we visit).
UofL News: What do you hope attendees took away from the conference?
Gittings: The goal was for those that attend to connect with other ACC colleagues and to be able to bring back tangible ideas that staff can implement, or modify on their campuses and improve the resources, events, and services they provide to parents and families to help improve student success.
UofL News: Anything else you’d like to add?
Gittings: We as a division of Student Affairs have a strong relationship with the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau and want to extend thanks to the Louisville CVB for helping organize this event and highlight our wonderful city.