New program to serve as central resource for parents and families

University Park, Pa. — Seeking to respond more efficiently to the needs and concerns of parents and families of Penn State students, the University is planning a new Parents Program with collaboration among multiple offices.

"Penn State faculty and staff are in a unique position to help students and parents through the considerable number of transitions they face as students go through college," said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. "The Penn State Parents Program will partner with parents and families to help ensure their students' success and provide the opportunity for parents to be engaged and take appropriate and meaningful roles in our community."

The search is under way for a director for the program, established as a partnership among the Office of Undergraduate Education, Division of Student Affairs and University Development. The collaborative approach is designed to incorporate the strengths of each unit, from the personal support of Student Affairs to the academic knowledge of Undergraduate Education to the long-term relationship building expertise of University Development. The program will be housed in Student Affairs.

The Parents Program will serve a number of essential functions.  It will act as a central resource for communications with parents and families, and while much of the communication will be one-on-one, the office also will distribute information on a larger scale through its Web site and hard copy materials.

With events such as Parents and Families Weekend activities, parent orientation and events for parents of specialized groups, programming focused on educating parents about resources, regulations and the transitions they will face also will be a key function. The office will develop programs and resources for families during notable transitions for students and strongly support family involvement to foster student success.

The program will maintain a helpline and email to address parents' questions and concerns as part of its mission to address the needs of parents and families and advocate on their behalf. It also will create and coordinate a Parents Advisory Committee.

"We must equip parents with the knowledge and resources they need to help their students' develop," Sims said. "It is essential that we provide them with timely and useful information and ways they can be engaged with the University."

Sims said by January a director is expected to be in place to develop and implement program initiatives in the summer and fall of 2010.

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Last Updated November 17, 2009