Mason Launches New Parent and Family Council

Posted: January 23, 2014 at 5:02 am, Last Updated: January 24, 2014 at 7:01 am

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By Sudha Kamath

“Families are integral to student success and have a lot to offer our institution in terms of input and involvement,” says Kaitlin Oyler, associate director of family programs and services in University Life. That’s the major reason George Mason University is launching its new Parent and Family Council. “Establishing this council reinforces just how important families are to the Mason community,” Oyler adds.

Wayne Applewhite

Wayne Applewhite

Until now, families connected with George Mason through orientation, Family Weekend in October, Siblings’ Weekend in April, Homecoming, a handbook and calendar, the weekly Mason Family Flash newsletter and monthly webinars.

The council provides a way for parents and families to actively engage on campus. “It’s also an opportunity to enhance communication between parents and families with the Mason community,” says Oyler.

Oyler recognized the need for more involvement. A two-year process to get a council off the ground wrapped up with the university’s Office of Orientation and Family Programs and Services accepting applications from prospective members last November. Oyler, along with William Ayrea, assistant director of annual giving in the Office of University Advancement and Alumni Relations, conducted phone interviews in December. Sixteen finalists were chosen this month and accepted up to four-year terms on the council. They are eligible as long as their student is a Mason undergraduate.

Now, council members will act as ambassadors, representing the council to prospective and current students and families. They also will represent the university to the local community. Out-of-state council members will take the Mason message back to their hometowns.

Inge Gedo

Inge Gedo

The council is chaired by Wayne Applewhite and Inge Gedo of Fairfax, parents of a freshman bioengineering student. “Being informed is a responsibility, being involved is a choice,” says Applewhite. “Being both makes a difference.”

Applewhite says he hopes to be a conduit for the university and the students, while engaging with both. He also aims to exchange ideas, views, concerns, excitement and growth throughout the year, “then successfully pass the baton to the next group of parents in hopes that the council will only become better.”

The council will hold two meetings each year on campus — one in the fall and one in the spring.

Oyler says council members will be required to volunteer twice a year at various university events where they can network with incoming and current families. “Council members will be able to share their perspective on what it’s like to have a student at Mason and ease anxieties families may have throughout the college transition process — something Mason would not be able to do without the help of this group.”

She also hopes to enhance the university’s communication with Mason families by providing them the opportunity to meet with key administrators such as President Ángel Cabrera, Provost Peter Stearns and Rose Pascarell, the vice president for University Life.

Write to Sudha Kamath at skamath@gmu.edu

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