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Nov. 12, 2009 Volume 31, No. 12

Parents: An integral part of Mizzou family

Columbia and campus parents felt welcome, not shunned, at the Student Affairs second annual reception for faculty-staff-Columbia parents Oct. 20 in Memorial Union’s Stotler Lounge. An a cappella student group called The Naturelles sang numerous songs, and complementary hors d’oeuvres were served.

That wasn’t the case several years back, says Vice Chancellor Cathy Scroggs. In the age of the “helicopter parent” — a mother or father who hovers over their child — the message was, “No, parents, don’t get involved. Just send us your students and go home.”

Times have evolved. Now, universities realize parents have a role to play as their children move through college. Parents can partner with faculty and staff at universities as coaches, mentors, guides. “Letting go” doesn’t happen overnight, but over years of a college career. It’s a process.

“We see the role of parents as encourager, coach, affirmer,” Scroggs says. “A parent can say, ‘Run for MSA Senate; you can stand up in front of a crowd and give a speech.’ ” They can also encourage their students to take advantage of MU’s services and programs.

“When they were younger, we parents took our children to appointments and activities,” Scroggs says, “Now it’s time for students to do it on their own.”

Faculty or staff members with five years of full-time service qualify for MU’s educational assistance program. It means that an eligible dependent child or spouse receives a 50 percent discount on educational fees, or tuition. “Fifteen hours times $300 a credit hour divided by two adds up,” Scroggs says. See HR-309 policy.

Scroggs introduced Student Affairs staffers in attendance: Diane Dahlmann, director of Recreation Services and Facilities; assistant vice chancellor Jeff Zeilenga; director of student affairs development Terri Gray; coordinator for parent relations Laura Page; and Julaine Kiehn, Campus Dining Services director.

Scroggs told parents that Student Affairs staffers were there to help their children. She encouraged parents to eat in dining halls with their student. If a student has a meal plan, he or she can bring parents in and have a meal with them, and mom and dad can use meals on their child’s meal plan.

“We realize parents are entrusting their most prized possessions with us,” Scroggs says. In so doing, “parents are very important stakeholders in the University of Missouri.” To faculty and staff parents, she says, “We appreciate you sending your children here.”