Keeping parents in the loop

MU works hard to keep parents connected with students

Sunday morning, many students awoke to find surprise packages from “St. Nick” outside their dorm room doors. The packages were sent by their parents through a program facilitated by resident assistants. Programs like this help keep lines of communication between parents, students and the university open.

Jim McMahon, dean of Residence Life, said Marquette firmly believes parents are an essential part of the college community.

“There is a very clear sense of parents (as) partners with the university in facilitating their sons’ and daughters’ experience at Marquette,” McMahon said.

In extreme instances of tragedy or crisis, Marquette strives to provide a “seamless web of support” for the entire community, which includes parents, said Chris Miller, vice president of Student Affairs.

“We think more communication is better than less,” Miller said. “The Marquette community is a family and when someone is harmed or injured, it is important to provide other members of this community with timely information.”

When freshman Andrew Siebenaler died earlier this semester, Campus Ministry and the Division of Student Affairs sent a letter home to inform parents of the tragedy, Miller said.

Molly Dinolfo, manager of the Parents Association and senior advancement officer for the Alumni Association, said parents are an important constituent of the university.

“They are just as much a part of this community as students, faculty and alumni,” Dinolfo said. “Keeping them informed is part of our duty as a university — to share our message and make sure they have an appropriate amount of information.”

Marquette engages parents even before students arrive, McMahon said. There are programs for parents at Preview and Freshman Orientation.

“Throughout high school, (parents) advocate for their sons and daughters,” McMahon said. “They stay fully engaged, and we understand that while that might lessen a bit when they get to college, it’s not going to stop.”

There are many ways in which the university keeps in contact with parents. A monthly newsletter is e-mailed to parents, which contains important dates and news updates.

Dinolfo said the Parents Association wants to make sure parents are getting news updates about Marquette on a regular basis. They have formed a group on Facebook that parents can join called the Official Marquette University Parents Group.

It is important for the university to keep in contact with parents to guide them in how they can help their student, McMahon said.

“We know that, particularly with students that might struggle in some ways, if we and the parents partner together to facilitate some growth and development … that’s in everybody’s best interest,” McMahon said.

At Freshman Orientation, parents are encouraged to attend a panel discussion about common problems or situations parents and students may experience during a student’s first semester at Marquette. Some of these issues are also addressed in the newsletter that parents receive via e-mail each month.

Parents also appreciate staying involved with their student’s education because a Marquette education doesn’t come with a small price tag, McMahon said. Most parents help their students financially in some way, so it is crucial to keep them informed, he said.

“For us to say, ‘This isn’t your business — this is between your student and the university,’ that … doesn’t work,” McMahon said.