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Parent Email—April 26, 2011

  • Light-Rail Construction
  • Career Planning
  • Volunteers for Usability Study
  • Request for Your Help
  • Student Dental Plan
  • Miscellaneous

As you have probably heard, there have been some serious accidents adjacent to campus in the past couple of weeks, resulting in the deaths of two U of M students. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families and friends of these students. The University is providing counseling and support to friends of the victims, but we also know that when something like this happens, it can raise concerns and remind students of past losses, whether they knew the victims or not. If you have a sense that your student is affected, please suggest that they visit University Counseling & Consulting Services.

Light-Rail Construction

Light-rail construction will close Washington Avenue through the U of M campus, starting Monday, May 16. Although the Washington Avenue bridge will remain open, eastbound traffic will exit from the bridge onto East River Road at the Weisman Art Museum, and westbound traffic will access the bridge only from Pleasant Street. Washington Avenue will be closed between Pleasant Street and Oak Street.

The closure will result in bus stop rerouting starting May 14, which is the last day of final exams. Among the more significant notes: the stops on the West Bank will remain in place, but the main East Bank stop will be moved to Jones Hall on Pleasant Street.

Students and guests attending commencement ceremonies on the 16th of May should be alert to the road closing. And all students and visitors are encouraged to be aware of changing traffic patterns and please, stay safe.

Career Planning

This year's graduates are invited to attend an intensive seminar to equip them for the job search in a recovering economy. Students will receive advice on how to conduct a creative job search, craft an outstanding resume, and interview effectively. They will gain LinkedIn knowledge and networking tips from Judy Zimmer, an engaging and candid coach. In addition, they will practice networking with actual employers.

This event, "You've Graduated, What Now?" is open to students whose graduation date is between December 2010 and August 2011. The program is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, May 25, in the Science Teaching and Student Services Building, and it requires a $10 registration fee (includes lunch). Student can sign up on GoldPASS. Carlson students are asked to register via The Edge. For more information, students can contact their college career center or call Liz Hruska at 612-624-2172.

Volunteers for Usability Study

The University Parent Program is looking for several parents of U of M students to try out a new website that could be of interest to parents. On Wednesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 12, we will be conducting a usability assessment to evaluate this new website. Participants will proceed through common tasks, explore the website, and provide feedback on the experience. Meanwhile, the usability assessment team will observe and record your feedback in multiple ways, noting your voice, your expressions, your actions on the computer screen, and the places your eyes look at on the computer screen.

As a parent, your unique perspective can help identify and evaluate aspects of design that others may not notice, and your feedback is a valuable contribution to the design process. Your participation is kept strictly confidential, and you are not personally identified in any results of the usability assessment. All members of the team sign a Code of Conduct that protects your confidentiality and ensures appropriate use of any observations. Any audio/video recordings will be be viewed only by usability team members and will be destroyed when they are no longer needed, or upon your request. In appreciation of your participation, you will receive an honorarium of a $25 gift card to the University Bookstores.

Participants are needed for the following times on both Wednesday, May 11, and on Thursday, May 12

  • 9 to 10 a.m.
  • 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • 1 to 2 p.m.
  • 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Evaluation sessions take place at our usability lab on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. Once your appointment is scheduled, you will be sent a detailed message with your appointment time and directions to the usability lab. If you drive to your appointment and park in one of the hourly parking ramps, your ramp ticket can be validated so your parking will be free.

Participants will provide the University with a significant benefit, and we would like to express our gratitude with an honorarium of a $25 gift card to University Bookstores. There will also be free refreshments in the reception room that you may bring into your session.

If you are interested in this usability assessment, please respond to with answers to all of the following questions. (Note: Do not "reply" to this message. Send your responses to

1) Your first and last name

2) Your e-mail address

3) Your phone number; this is used for appointment follow-up only

4) What are the appointment times that you have available? Please list all the times you can attend on Wednesday and on Thursday.

5) What is your zip code?

Please respond as soon as possible because there are a limited number of appointments, and I can schedule only one person per appointment. If I am able to schedule you for an appointment, I will send you specific details

Request for Your Help

The University Parent Program works with the parents of all undergraduate students because we believe that parent support is important to student success. In addition to working directly with parents, we collaborate with a number of offices around campus to promote student retention and success. We are currently seeking donations through the University Parent Fund for contributions to be used to help students in crisis. Every year we have students who face a financial loss through such events as an apartment fire, crime, accident, or family emergency. There are times when insurance or family members cannot provide assistance in these critical situations, and this fund helps students as they work to stay in school and resolve their difficulties. If the University Parent Program has been helpful to you or your student, please consider making a contribution to the University Parent Fund.

Any contributions, large or small, are appreciated. For more information or to make a donation, see University Parent Fund and be sure to specify University Parent Fund in your contribution.

Student Dental Plan

The University of Minnesota's Office of Student Health Benefits recently announced the University-Sponsored Voluntary Student Dental Plan. For several years, U of M students have requested an option for dental coverage, and the Voluntary Student Dental Plan, provided by MetLife, will provide plan members access to thousands of providers in the national MetLife network.

Details about the plan, eligibility, and information on enrollment are available on the Office of Student Health Benefits website. Enrollment will be open through September 16, 2011, for coverage from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012. Cost for the plan is $339 per year. Members will be charged $169.50 at the beginning of fall semester and again at the beginning of spring semester. Financial aid can be applied to cover the cost of the plan.


A heads-up for Moms: With Mother's Day coming up, the University Bookstores are promoting a deal on Minnesota Mom t-shirts. You might want to let your student know your preference, for or against.

Residence hall students are receiving information from their hall directors with instructions for move-out. The messages include announcements about quiet hours during final exams, room cleaning instructions for move-out, and instructions for checking out of the halls when students leave after finals. The basic information—and some tips for parents—is included in the Spring Update on our University Parent website. Scroll down on that page to "On-campus housing move out." Please note: If you come to campus to pick up your student, be alert to parking restrictions. Because move-out occurs over a longer period of time than move-in during the fall, parking restrictions are not lifted in the spring.

Please respond to the April Question of the Month. We won't post the May question until next week, so there's time to answer the current one, then check back in a few days for the May question.

If you haven't joined the University of Minnesota Parent Facebook page, we hope you will. Sign in to your Facebook account, then link to our page and "like" us.

Get a glimpse of U of M Reality TV by checking the Walter Library webcam with its live view of Northrop Mall. It's rather soggy out there today.

Marjorie Savage
Parent Program Director
University of Minnesota