Family Weekened Overview
Fran Cohen, Dean of Students, gave an overview of Family Weekend. The Parents Council will host a parent-to-parent reception in the Memorial Union on Saturday from 3-5 p.m. Fran asked Parents Council members to fill out surveys and give feedback on the weekend’s activities. She also appreciates Parents Council input in planning and will continue to use the group as a resource for decision-making. She thanked parents for their willingness to give their input by e-mail in the future.
Campus Security Update
Robert Drapeau, director of Campus Security, updated the Council on trends in security at URI. Topics included new security call boxes, increased patrols in new outlying parking lots, recent student disturbances, and the new "Call MA" motorist’s aid program.
Career Services Update
Bobbi Koppel, director of Career Services, gave an update on Career Services initiatives. She thanked Mari Frohn for representing the Parents Council on the Career Services Advisory Council. Career Services had just conducted an open house for Family Weekend. Bobbi is pleased that 700 freshmen have already registered with Career Services and 3,700 students have signed up through the online BEACON program. Her department focuses on career planning as well as placement, career coaching and support in choosing an academic major. The department has five full-time and four part-time career counselors as well as one full-time and three part-time career advisors.
The online BEACON program promotes campus jobs, part-time summer jobs, internships and mentoring connections with alumni. Parents can browse BEACON offerings. Bobbi encouraged parents to post jobs and internships--and to encourage freshmen students to begin making use of Career Services and attending job fairs. New initiatives include a job fair in the Ryan Center on April 24, a placement survey to track 2003 graduates, and an ongoing effort to upgrade facilities for workshops and employer relations. Bobbi encouraged Parents Council members to continue to participate in the Career Services Advisory Council and distributed packets of Career Services information.
Library and Information Services Update
Paul Gandel, Vice Provost Information Services/Dean of the Library, gave an update on the URI Library and Information Services. URI has increased spending in the Library this year, and ongoing investment in collections and online access can be expensive. As part of a growing trend, online access to journal titles has expanded twenty times over what was available five or six years ago (but the Library still wants to encourage students to read books). The HELIN consortium, started 20 years ago, now offers access to every college, university, and research library in the state.
Increased library staff is even more important now, because it can be even harder to find information on the Internet given the increased information resources. Library staff have become more proactive, part of the teaching program. Paul views the Library as the largest and most important classroom on campus. A new information literacy course helps students evaluate and synthesize information, and URI has become a national leader in this kind of program. Some introductory courses are being restructured to include library/information workshops.
The Library offers a 24-hour study room with computer terminals and comfortable chairs. These are tight financial times, and subscriptions costs for e-journals in particular have been increasing 10-15 percent each year. The need for new technology also increases costs, and as academics become more collaborative, the University wants space to facilitate that kind of learning. Balancing the increasing costs and low-usage hours will always be a challenge.
The Council discussed September’s Move-In weekend. The Parents Council had a booth in the Union, and parents wearing "Experienced Parent" badges offered information and an empathetic ear for parents who were helping their freshmen move in. New parents seemed to appreciate the support, and the hectic day seemed to run very smoothly. Parents Council members who attended suggested that even more Parents Council volunteers would be helpful, so some parents would be available to circulate through the dorms and offer help there as well.
Melinda Murphy updated the group on Parents Council involvement with Orientation in June. Council members volunteered to "meet and greet" at the information fair. The fair was in the Ram’s Den this year, and traffic was steady and concentrated in a fairly short period of time. Many new parents joined the council and took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of Parents Council members. Parents Council volunteers gave out "Proud Parent" buttons and information on local resources.
Parents Fund Raffle
Jerry Stone gave an update on the Parents Fund raffle of a $2,500 scholarship and a bookstore credit. Raffle ticket sales had surpassed $10,000, and ticket sales would continue until the drawings at halftime at the football game Saturday, and at the president’s brunch at the Ryan Center on Sunday. The Parents Council runs another raffle to benefit the Parents Fund in conjunction with the winter meeting and a men’s basketball game in February.
The Stones also invited Parents Council members to attend the Alumni Association’s Winter Gala, a fund-raiser for scholarships, on January 31.
Maureen Coleman gave a brief update on other new initiatives, including renovations to Green Hall, Ballentine Hall, and six of twelve dorms, so far. An Academic Enhancement Center is now located in Roosevelt Hall, and students can receive peer tutoring even on weekends and late in the evening. University College has also introduced electronic communications for freshmen and their families. Students who are experiencing difficulties in adjusting academically or socially also have a new support resource in the Rhode Assistance program. Parents can go to the program Web site or contact Jessica Bouvier at 401-874-4076.
Parents Fund Update
Maureen also provided an update on the Parents Fund, which supports academic, cultural and social programs at URI. The fund is unrestricted and is put to use where it is needed most each year. Currently, the Parents Fund is supporting University College, Student Life programs, the Parents Council, and renovations to Green Hall among other day-to-day needs. The first Parents Fund mail appeal is scheduled for later in the fall, and URI students will also solicit support by phone throughout the year. The revenue goal is at least $50,000.