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Parent Email–November 20, 2013

University Parent

Office for Student Affairs

November 20, 2013

Inside This Issue

  • Message from President Kaler
  • Adopt a Family
  • Service-Learning Classes for Spring Semester
  • Financial Update
  • Study Paws Update
  • Snow Fence Contest Results
  • Miscellaneous

Message from President Kaler

As the Thanksgiving break approaches, I want to wish you and your family a warm and wonderful holiday break. I know that sometimes it’s a bit of an adjustment — for you and them — when students arrive home after time away on campus. It was that way when Karen and I welcomed our boys home on college breaks. But, I assure you, a bit of flexibility, much interest in what’s going on in their lives, and a lot of love all go a long way to make these holiday periods fun, memorable and, even, educational!

Last week, I sent to you and the entire University community an update on campus safety. Soon after, on Friday night and early Saturday morning, I rode along with University police for five hours in and around our Twin Cities campus to gain a better understanding of the challenges our officers face and to observe the important work they perform. Our campus police do an excellent job. Earlier today, our Vice President for University Services Pam Wheelock and I met with Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges to build a partnership with her, and to develop strategies for an even stronger working relationship with the Minneapolis police.

A safe and secure campus community is of the utmost importance to me, and, I know, to you and our students. I take it very seriously. There is no higher priority.

Again, have a great Thanksgiving holiday.

President Eric Kaler

Adopt-a-Family

The University Parent Program, part of the Office for Student Affairs, was established to work with the parents of undergraduate students. The Office for Student Affairs also has an office, the Student Parent Help Center (SPHC), that serves students who are parents. The students who take part in SPHC's services and activities are dedicated, hard-working students who have children of their own or who are pregnant. For the seventh year, we are asking our University Parents to consider supporting a student-family or making a financial contribution to help these U of M student-parents and their children have a happy holiday.

All of the student-parents served by this program are low income, as verified by information provided in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and most of them are in the lowest income bracket. These student-parents are making significant sacrifices to complete their education while providing a home for their children. They are attending classes, fulfilling their coursework, and working in order to provide a better future for their sons and daughters. In December, when finals and planning for the holidays create even more stress, the support of this project means they don't have to worry how they will provide gifts for their children.

In the past, many of our University families have selected a student-parent to sponsor for the holidays, and we also have had parents coordinate with co-workers, neighbors, or relatives to support a student-parent's family. In addition, groups of roommates and friends, a sorority or fraternity, a student organization, or University staff have worked together to adopt a family. Some who are not able to purchase and wrap gifts for a family have made cash donations, which are used for grocery store gift cards, allowing student-parents to purchase the ingredients for a holiday meal.

Over the previous years of this program, the assistance provided by our University Parents community has provided happy holidays for hundreds of families and more than 1,000 children. Please visit the Adopt-a-Family website for information on how to support a family this year. And as you read through the "wish lists" these student-parents have written up, please keep in mind that they were asked to provide a range of gift suggestions. They do not expect to receive everything they've listed and will be very grateful for any assistance.

Service-Learning Classes for Spring Semester

A number of classes offered by the University pair academic work with service opportunities. Students learn through service as they apply the information they receive in the classroom with the experience they gain by working in the community. A list of classes is posted on the Community Service-Learning Center's website.

Financial Update

The third billing for students who still have an outstanding payment due was sent by email to students on November 2. Payment is due November 27. For more information see the One Stop website.

Study PAWS Update

Students will be headed to Boynton Health Service again this afternoon for Study PAWS. (The University has acronyms galore. PAWS stands for Pet Away Worry & Stress.) Now scheduled as a pilot program, pets will be coming to Boynton Health Service from 3 to 5 p.m., Wednesdays, for the rest of the academic year. The initial response has been exceedingly positive, with more than 400 students showing up at the first official PAWS session last week. We are most grateful for the donations that parents have sent to support this program. We have not yet reached our $7,000 goal to support the program, but we have made great strides, thanks to your contributions. Please consider donating through the University Parent Program to keep this program on campus.

Snow Fence Contest Results

The snow fence on Northrop Mall was set up last week, and parents noticed. The first sighting report from a parent arrived in the Parent mailbox at 11:03 a.m., Friday, November 15. There were so many parent responses that we gave the winner a $25 gift card for the University Bookstores, and with the cooperation of the Bookstores, gave $10 gift cards to each of the next four who sent sightings. Thanks to all for watching the College of Science & Engineering's webcam.

For those parents who live in warm climates and don't know what a snow fence is, think "sand fence" that keeps sand from blowing across roadways or drifting into huge piles. Same principle. Because the U of M is a research university, and we do research on just about everything, here's a report on how to design a snow fence or design a road to prevent snow from drifting onto a roadway. There are living snow fences, too. We know this information is not of particular interest to the vast majority of parents, but we think it's pretty amazing how much research is done at the U of M, and how all that research affects quality of life in Minnesota, in the U.S., and around the globe.

Miscellaneous

As we approach Thanksgiving, thoughts turn to gratitude. What we're grateful for today:

  • The parents of our students who take pride in, give support to, and love their U of M students
  • All who respond to our Question of the Month
  • Therapy pets and Study PAWS donors!
  • Our student employees, who not only help us do the work of the Parent Program, but who remind us every day of why the Parent Program exists
  • And all the rest of the amazing students at the U of M.