Survey designed to help new Parents Program strengthen partnership

University Park, Pa. -- A student’s success in college depends on many factors -- from personal motivation to the support and encouragement of others.

Because parent and family support is integral to student success, Penn State's Division of Student Affairs recently established the Penn State Parents Program ( As its first initiative, this new program has partnered with Student Affairs Research and Assessment to explore the experiences and needs of Penn State parents.

Parents and guardians of current University Park students are invited to participate in the Parents' Needs Assessment survey, available online at The survey is designed to help Penn State develop a better understanding of the information parents and families seek and how to provide it. If you are the parent or guardian of a current Penn State University Park student, please complete the survey at your convenience. The survey will remain open until May 31.

The Parents Program aims to improve Penn State's partnership with parents and families in order to ensure student success, provide opportunities for parents' engagement with the University, and educate parents and families about resources and services available within the University community.

Jennifer Mallen was named director of the Penn State Parents Program in March.

Last year, Mallen received a Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change from UCLA. During her time in Los Angeles, she served as a research associate at UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute, primarily working on two funded studies: "Spirituality in Higher Education" and "Impact of Single-Gender High Schools on Students' Transition to College."

Mallen also has held several positions in student affairs, including roles in Greek life, residential life and student leadership development.

Since the program and the director are both new, Penn State saw a need to collect data from parents and families to help Mallen shape the mission of the program.

Mallen said that directing the new Penn State Parents Program is both thrilling and daunting.
"I'm excited to create this new service for parents and families of University Park students," she said. "We want to establish a resource office as well as create new opportunities and infrastructures for family members. In order to accomplish this, we want to hear from parents and families about their needs and the opportunities they are looking for."

Mallen detailed the initial broad goals of the program:

-- Serve as a central resource for access to information and referrals

-- Enhance parent and family involvement opportunities throughout the university community

-- Provide information about the student experience at Penn State

-- Communicate regularly with parents and families through responses to inquiries, e-mail, newsletters and the Parents Program website.

Mallen emphasized that Penn State has always possessed many avenues for parents to find information about the university, however, there was never a central dissemination of that information. Now there is -- the Penn State Parents Program.

Learn more about the program at

Last Updated April 18, 2017