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Parent Email—June 28, 2011

  • Parking Lottery for Students
  • University ReUse Center
  • Student Parent HELP Center's Career Closet
  • Parents of First-Year Students
  • Technology on Campus
  • Miscellaneous

We often refer parents to the Walter Library webcam so you can see what's happening on Northrop Mall. Today, though, we'll provide the link to what's known on campus as the SwanCam. It's named after our former Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Craig Swan, who thought people--especially parents--might like to know what the weather is like in Minneapolis. Maybe if you watch the flow of the river in the left-center of the image, you'll get to see a barge go by. And for those who are never happy unless they can see students, we'll also include the Walter Library view.

Parking Lottery for Students

Parking & Transportation Services notes that the odds are about two out of three for students to receive a parking spot through the Student Parking Lottery. Students can sign up for the lottery from now until July 14. Contracts are good for one semester only; spaces are available on the East Bank, West Bank, and St. Paul campuses.

University ReUse Center

The University's Facilities Management department collects surplus items from offices around campus, sorts them to determine suitability, and sells them to the public (including students) every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Located in the Southeast Como neighborhood at 883 29th Avenue SE, the ReUse Program offers desks (average $35) and chairs (average $10); a "free shelf," loaded with reclaimed folders, desk organizers, 3-ring binders, and other general office supplies; and any number of other surprises.

Student Parent HELP Center's Career Closet

Speaking of re-use, the Student Parent HELP Center is seeking donations of gently used career and interview-appropriate clothing for the Student Parent Career Closet. The program serves low income undergraduates who are raising their children while attending the U of M. Students served by the office are in the lowest financial brackets and often are unable to afford business attire for a job interview or to begin a professional job.

Men's and women's clothing can be dropped off at Room 24, Appleby Hall, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., weekdays. Bags of clothing can be left outside the office if the desk is not staffed. Please call 612-626-6015 with any questions.

Parents of First-Year Students: StrengthsFinder

All members of the Class of 2015 will have the opportunity to take the StrengthsFinder assessment before classes begin in the fall. This assessment helps students identify their top five personal strengths, and the information will be used in a number of ways throughout the first year (and beyond) to help students succeed in the transition to the University, in their coursework, in campus activities, and in planning their future careers. Using Strengths will help students identify and articulate their talents, increase their self-awareness and their understanding of others, and increase their ability to establish and pursue their undergraduate goals.

Within a few weeks after attending orientation, first-year students receive an email, including a code for taking the strengths assessment. They are asked to go through the assessment (which takes about 45 minutes) and receive their top five strengths. They can then read about their strengths and are asked to consider how they see those characteristics in themselves. In addition, students will be asked to verify their strengths by discussing them with two people "who know you very well and care about you." In some cases, students will select a parent or other family member for this assignment. The object of the assignment is for the student to learn if friends or family members see the same characteristics in the student.

We will have more information for parents during Parents Weekend (September 30-October 2) to help you better understand StrengthsFinder and how the University is using this tool to improve the student experience. In the meantime, the Strengths website includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the topic.

Technology on Campus

For students moving into an apartment this fall, the following information is particularly relevant, but it's also useful for those moving to a residence hall: The University's UMart Web site offers discounts on some cell phone and Internet plans. Students can check for discounts, but they must be registered for classes to be eligible to sign into the page. Please encourage your son or daughter to compare costs and services available through that site, and if they have questions, check with vendors. Tell them it never hurts to mention, "I'm a University of Minnesota student. Are there discounts for the U of M?" If they have already signed up for a service included on that website, they can still contact the vendor to ask if it's possible to receive a discount.

In addition, the University Bookstores and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) offer certified laptop bundles for students to purchase at student rates. Hardware and software products are also available. For more information, go to for OIT items; the Bookstores' M-Tech website is at


We're pleased to welcome our new University of Minnesota President Eric W. Kaler and his wife, Karen, as they formally start their tenure this Friday. Those who attend Parents Weekend will have the opportunity to meet the Kalers on Saturday, October 1. We also want to thank President Robert Bruininks for his service to the University and for his recognition of the importance of parents and families to student success. We are most grateful for all the support President Bruininks has offered the Parent Program during his years as president and previously as provost of the University.

Families from out of town who need to book a hotel near campus can check our "Local Lodging" webpage for hotels that offer discounts to University parents. While we can't verify quality of accommodations, we list hotels that agree to provide a discount when parents identify themselves as parents of U of M students. There may be a limited number of rooms available at discount prices, which means hotels may not have discounted rooms on particularly busy weekends.

On our University Parent website, we ask parents to respond to a monthly online poll, which helps us better understand you, your student, and the issues that families face during the college years. Please check our Question of the Month.


Marjorie Savage
Parent Program Director
University of Minnesota