Colleen O’Connor Bench attends inaugural AHEPPP conference
Plays key role in formation of new parent/family programming standards
The Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Professionals (AHEPPP) held its inaugural conference in Boulder, Colo., in November, with 97 parent/family programming professionals from around the country attending. Syracuse University was well represented as Colleen O’Connor Bench, director of SU’s Parents Office, is the AHEPPP chair.
Bench played a key role in the founding of the organization in May 2008. AHEPPP is a clearinghouse for professional development and resource center for new parent/family programs. This fall, a subcommittee of AHEPPP oversaw the creation of standards for the field of parent/family programming. They were approved by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) last April and adopted in October as the accepted standards in the field of parent/family programming.
The field of higher education has seen an increasing need for parent and family programming over the past decade, as baby boomers are the most involved generation of parents of all time. The new standards assist colleges and universities in establishing programs and services aligned with higher education goals for student learning that meet the expectations of parents and family members.
“As administrators were considering how to work with parents in recent years, they were looking for guidance on best practices and standard services for working with families while honoring the developmental stages that students typically go through,” says Bench. “The new CAS standards provide context for what should be included in a quality parent/family program.
“Working with parents and families is still relatively new at some colleges, but necessary because families have changed so much since today’s parents went to college,” says Bench. “By helping family members understand the college experience and the developmental stages that students go through, parents can better support their students. The bonus is that parents will also support and advocate for the institution their student attends when they feel like their concerns are being heard and the family is included in the whole experience.”
SU’s Parents Office offers numerous parent/family programs each year. New student sendoff receptions are held regionally each summer. There, new students and their parent/family members are invited by the regional alumni clubs to come together in their hometown to meet each other and talk to University representatives prior to their arrival on campus in August.
The Parents Office gives parent orientation during SU Welcome and hosts parents at a variety of information sessions designed specifically for them. Family Weekend, held each fall, is an opportunity for parents and families to visit campus and share their student’s SU experience.
AHEPPP is an associate member of CAS, a consortium of nearly 40 professional associations that work collaboratively to advance quality standards for student learning and development and promote self assessment of outcomes and processes in higher education.