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College to host Parents Council

Megan Loney | Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Saint Mary’s College will be hosting members of the Parents Council this weekend for the organization’s semi-annual fall meeting.

The Parents Council group is a focus group made up of parents of Saint Mary’s students that meets twice a year – fall and early spring.

Parents Council members will tour the recently remodeled Madeleva Hall, listen to a presentation given by Saint Mary’s new vice president of Mission Sister Mary Louise Gude and hear about the new Cross Currents Advising Program.

Each member will attend one committee meeting of Student Affairs, Enrollment Management or College Relations. After sitting in on the meeting, they will report back to the group with their observations.

The group was established in 1966 to promote the College, spread the word about Saint Mary’s to potential parents and assist with fundraising, Executive Assistant to the President Susan Dampeer said.

“These purposes really haven’t changed since the beginning,” Dampeer said. “It is very helpful to the College in areas like admission and student affairs.  We often use them as a focus group to help us understand from their point of view what it is that parents want for their daughters.”

The impact of the Parents Council is all around campus, although students may not realize it.

The Council has aided the College and students through their fund raising. The money that they raised has helped to pay for improved lighting and part of the construction of Dalloway’s Café.

Some funds have also been added to the scholarship fund endowment.

Other outlets for the funds include the purchasing of exercise equipment for the Angela Athletic Facility, new patio furniture for the Dining Hall and a car used by students who volunteer in the community.

The Council is made up of about four or five couples from each of the sophomore, junior and senior classes. The group of parents represents geographic and career diversity, Dampeer said.

The geographic diversity aspect is important because it helps with enrollment management work, Dampeer said.

The responsibilities of the Parents Council members are not reserved to their semi-annual meetings at the College. Members often host admission receptions in their homes and call parent­­s of accepted students from their area.

Several of the current members are Saint Mary’s alumnae, but it is not a requirement. All members have students currently enrolled in Saint Mary’s.

Current Council chairs are Jim and Mary Beth Theiss, who have had two daughters attend Saint Mary’s.

Being a member of the council has its perks.

Members spend time with College President Carol Ann Mooney at each semi-annual meeting and are kept well-informed of what is happening at the college. They are entitled to priority seating, parking and attendance of the brunch for the honorary degree recipients at Commencement, Dampeer said.

Many council members continue to participate in Saint Mary’s through other means. Some go on to become members of the Board of Trustees.

In Dampeer’s opinion, the Parents Council effectively achieves their purpose to “enrich student life,” as stated on their Web site.

“I believe that they enrich student life by their work on the Student Affairs Committee to advise on issues that affect parents, by assisting us with our admission efforts, and by their fundraising efforts which always focus on something that their daughters will benefit from while they are students rather than a long term project,” Dampeer said.