Parents Council Meeting Minutes for Feb. 22, 2004
Attendees: Maureen Coleman (URI staff), Mari Frohn, Don Koehler, Catherine Koehler, Phyllis Kay Mulberry, Peter Mullberry, Melinda Murphy, David Murphy, Deb Larkin, Herb Larkin, Judy Levine, Robert Levine, Frank Musarra, Elaine Shea, Debra Smith, James Smith, Jerry Stone (co-chair), Susan Stone (co-chair), Priscilla Van Heiningen, Dave West.
Jerry Stone called the meeting to order at 11 a.m. The minutes from the October 24, 2003 meeting were approved. Jerry gave an overview of the URI Parents Council for new members and encouraged parents to use the Parents Council as a mechanism for staying connected and involved with their student’s institution.
A general discussion followed regarding plans for the Parents Fund Raffle at the afternoon’s basketball game. Tickets were mailed to all Parents Council members, and groups of Parents Council volunteers would be selling tickets at the Ryan Center prior to the game. Proceeds would benefit the URI Parents Fund, and the prize was a large gift basket of “Go Rhody” fan paraphernalia, including a $500 gift certificate to the URI Bookstore.
The group discussed University College’s new Academic Enhancement Center, and parents exchanged positive feedback about the tutors, accessible hours, and new facility in Roosevelt Hall. Dean Libutti, Director of New Student Programs, has offered to provide a tour for the Parents Council, or host a future meeting in the Academic Enhancement Center, so parents can learn more about the program. Maureen Coleman gave an update on University College’s new Rhode Assistance program for any students who might need support or guidance, especially new students who might be facing a challenge with the transition to college. Jessica Bouvier at Rhode Assistance has encouraged parents or students to contact her at 401-874-4076 or email@example.com.
Don and Cathy Koehler reported on the URI Alumni Association’s Winter Gala, a black-tie-optional fund-raiser in Newport on 1/31/04. More than $100,000 was raised for student scholarships, and URI parents hope to continue to have a Parents Council table for a fun evening out together.
The group discussed ongoing concerns with housing, as the year has been stressful for some freshmen who were “tripled” due to limited dorm space. Typically after the first semester students have the option of “de-tripling,” but by then they may have formed bonds with their roommates. The group discussed the housing crunch among colleges nationwide, ongoing initiatives to renovate dorms as funded through a Rhode Island bond referendum, and a new plan to build apartment-style housing to create several hundred new “beds” for upperclassmen.
Parents are very happy with the newly-renovated dorms but are concerned that limited space is forcing some students to live off campus sooner than their parents would like. The group discussed the trend of larger percentages of upper-class students choosing to live on campus instead of “down the line.” Parents were curious about deadlines for housing applications as well as information about learning communities and other options for on-campus housing, so a subsequent Parents Council e-mail communication should include links to web pages with additional information.
Parents have also heard some complaints from their students about the regularity of the shuttle buses, and resistance to transporting students with too much equipment. Through the Parents Council, individual parents have a mechanism for asking questions, if housing, parking or any other issues become a concern. Parents can contact the department heads directly, invite administration officials to a future meeting, ask URI Annual Fund staff for referrals or information from any University department, or consider forming more formal Parents Council committees if the need arises.
The Parents Council plans to participate in the Information Fair at Centennial Scholar Day on Sunday March 21 and Welcome Day for accepted students on Sunday April 4. The Admissions Office expects record attendance at these events. Jerry Stone encouraged parent volunteers to sign up for either day to staff a Parents Council booth at the Information Fair, greet potential new families and answer questions about URI and the college transition in general. New parents continue to give positive feedback about Parents Council involvement, which makes the University seem more like a welcoming family than a large institution. Local maps and “proud parent” buttons continue to be popular with visiting families.
Save the Date(s) for Parents Council representation at Parent/Student Orientation. The Parents Council will have a booth at the Information Fair from 3:30 – 4:30 on the following dates:
Thursday, June 10
Monday, June 14
Thursday, June 17
Monday, June 21
Thursday, June 24
Monday, June 28
Thursday, July 1
Parents Council volunteers will also plan to have a booth outside the bookstore for Freshman Move-In Day over Labor Day weekend. Dates, times and a sign-up request will follow in a future Parents Council communication. Parent volunteers will offer coffee, maps, local information and "a shoulder to cry on" for parents who are helping their new students move in. If enough volunteers are available, it has been helpful to have a Parents Council representation in the freshman dorms as well. The Council discussed the possibility of hosting an informal send-off reception at the end of Move-In day, so parents can gather informally after their students are settled into the dorms.
Maureen Coleman provided an update on the URI Parents Fund, an unrestricted fund for academic, cultural and social programs at URI. The Parents Fund supports initiatives in Student Life and University College and has recently been funding renovations to the Green Hall student services center. To date, the Parents Fund had generated just over $20,000 toward a goal of at least $50,000.
Mari Frohn provided an update on the Career Services Advisory Council, which met earlier in the week. She stressed that Career Services offers programs that are helpful for freshmen through seniors, so students at all stages should be encouraged to participate. Internship opportunities for underclassmen are especially helpful. The largest-ever career fair, “Passport to Employment” is scheduled for April 24 at the Ryan Center. An online Virtual Career Fair will run from May 24 through June 4. The Career Services Parents Newsletter was handed out. Mari also noted that the URI Alumni Association has been sponsoring some excellent workshops to prepare students for practical life issues after college.
Career Services would like to find sources for additional funding to enhance programming for students. Bobbi Koppel, Director of Career Services, recently participated in a University-wide needs assessment process, as part of the early planning phases for an upcoming capital campaign. The URI administration will be prioritizing funding needs according to the University’s three-year strategic plan. The capital campaign, which is targeted to enter the public phase in 2006, will focus primarily on raising funds for the URI endowment. Once the University’s funding needs have been prioritized, University Advancement will assess the potential for funding sources for each of those needs. URI alumni, who generate most of the institution’s private support, tend to have stronger ties to their academic colleges or other undergraduate affinities. As a result, Career Services, the Library and many other departments have difficulty identifying constituencies to provide significant private donations.
Parents Council meeting attendees signed a letter to President Carothers, “voicing our support for the University of Rhode Island Career Services capital campaign proposal.” Maureen Coleman offered to forward the letter through Bob Beagle, Vice President for University Advancement, who leads the division that will conduct the capital campaign, including a feasibility study to identify funding sources.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 12:30 p.m.