Parent Council Report
The Parent Council recently closed our fifth year of service to the College, so it only seems fitting to report on all the great things we have accomplished!
Membership and Growth
The Parent Council has grown from the original group of 15 families who met in February 2008 to hatch ideas and nominate the first chairs, Michael and Susan Graham (P '08, '13), to a current group of 32 families. Several members elected to continue serving on the Parent Council after their students graduated. Since its inception, the Parent Council has represented families from 20 states, and three of the six chairs hail from Tennessee.
Pictured left to right are the past chairs of the Parent Council: Louie and Laurel Buntin (P '13), Gary and Arleen Pedone (P '09, '12), Michael Graham (P '08, '13), Bill and Leah Rubino '81, '81, (P '11, '13) and Bill and Leslie Pearson (P '13)
Parent giving has continued to increase each year, which has made a significant impact on the College's efforts to secure much-needed scholarship dollars. This increase in gifts and participation can be attributed to the heightened communication and peer-to-peer solicitation efforts of the Parent Council. With a goal of $330,000, council members made phone calls and sent emails to ask for participation in the Parent Fund. By the close of the fiscal year, June 30, 2013, 465 parents gave $357,136, surpassing our goal and increasing the total raised last year by 30%!
The Parent Council also helped launch a Senior Parent Giving program, in 2010, and asked parents of soon-to-be graduates to make a new or increased gift to the Parent Fund in honor of their son or daughter. An escalation in senior parent giving helps the College continue to grow the number of Parent Fund donors from year to year, and the Senior Parent Giving program educates students about giving back to their future alma mater.
The Parent Council's work over the past five years culminated with the grand opening of the James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences. Several of the laboratories in the new building were named for parents in recognition of their gifts, which already have made a huge impact and will continue to benefit students for generations to come.
Parents have given not only financially but also of their time. This year, Parent Council members volunteered at numerous events on campus and off. Collectively, members spent 868 hours helping with various efforts for the College, including hosting off-campus events, assisting with Explore Eckerd events on campus, making calls, answering questions, attending meetings, participating in the annual Triton Inshore Slam Fishing Tournament and creating awareness of College initiatives like the 54th Avenue South traffic light petition. The College is always appreciative of the work parents do to make an impact on the lives of students and fellow parents.
This year, the Office of Career Planning and Applied Learning (CPAL) received 12 internship and job referrals from parents. Two Eckerd students, Connor Gallagher '15 and Amanda Chick '15, completed a 10-week internship at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens last summer. Below is feedback about the students' experiences from Tony Vecchio (P '15), Parent Council member and executive director of the Jacksonville Zoo.
"Connor and Amanda spent the summer working with various zoo staff to learn how to care for aquatic animals. They spent two weeks working in our stingray exhibit, two weeks with penguins, two weeks with the South American giant otters, two weeks with aquatic reptiles and amphibians, and two weeks with our life-support technician. In addition, we had them spend a day with the manatee recovery team of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and two days with the dean of the Marine Science program at Jacksonville University (one day touring the new Marine Science Center at JU and one day helping weigh, measure and tag fish at the annual kingfish tournament). I think they learned a lot, gained some valuable experience and had lots of fun. We, in turn, really enjoyed having them here and are looking forward to having more Eckerd students this year."
Many parents have internship and entry-level opportunities available at their workplaces. If you have an opportunity to share with Eckerd, please submit an online referral form to CPAL.
Council members are making welcome calls over the summer to parents of incoming students. These friendly calls help ensure that families know where to check in and where to find information on the Eckerd website. It also gives nervous new Eckerd parents an opportunity to ask questions of those who have already experienced the process. Over the past five years, Parent Council members also have visited local high schools to share information about Eckerd, helped at college fairs across the country, attended Explore Eckerd College programs and sent letters to admitted students' families. In addition, they played a big role in special College initiatives, such as spreading the word about Eckerd's inclusion, once again, in the book Colleges That Change Lives.
Since the Parent Council's inception, parents have emailed the council about various topics including dorm rooms, transportation, Eckerd events and how to connect with other Eckerd parents in their area. Parents continue to send emails thanking the council for sending College news and updates and asking for ways to get involved.
The Parent Council newsletter has been a successful tool for the council to interact with all parents. When the newsletter was originally created, it was sent to parents twice each year, but in the past year seven newsletters were sent. The newsletter includes campus news and updates on Parent Council initiatives. Parent Council newsletter archives can be viewed here.
Parent representation on the College's Board of Trustees has increased in recent years. Last fall, all three new members of the board were parents, and two of them have served on the Parent Council, Leah Rubino '81 (P '11, '13) and Kappy Trott (P '13).