By Russell Napolitano, Parents Council, Son R.J (class of 2017) and daughter Betsy (class of 2019)
Since its formation in 2012, the Penn State Parents Council has been providing general guidance and support for Parents Program initiatives. Comprised of a group of 40+ parents and family members who volunteer their time to provide input regarding parent and family engagement and involvement efforts through various connections and forms of outreach. Over the past six months, the Penn State Parents Council leadership team launched a strategic plan initiative, which identifies four key goals, one of which focused on the development and refinement of a mission and vision.
The development of our vision and mission statements along with a tagline is the foundation to help us set the stage for completing all four goals. My role as Chief Operating Officer for a New York branding firm allowed me to bring my experience, knowledge and discipline to lead a team comprised of tenured and new Parents Council members who also brought a range of expertise to the process. In order to ensure that we were getting a 360-degree perspective to help inform our strategy, we audited many communications vehicles that would give us that more “personal” insight into the many challenges and opportunities that parents and families face when navigating through such a large university:
- Our own experience being on the Parents Council
- Our experience being parents and family members of students currently at Penn State University Park
- A sharing of alumni perspectives
- A review of Parents Program research and assessments and a review of information found on the Parents Council, Parents Program and Penn State Parents Facebook pages
- A review of similar programs at other colleges and universities
All in all, we found no shortage of material that would help us understand the role that the Penn State Parents Council needed to play within such a diverse community – a community coming together from different racial, religious and cultural backgrounds not to mention a community coming together from many different states from east to west and from north to south. Through the aggregation of all of our findings, we created our vision, mission and tagline, which were officially launched during our April meeting over Blue-White Weekend.
WE ARE a resource enriching the Penn State experience for all parents and families.
Why this vision statement works: Our vision clearly captures who we are, what we do and for whom we are doing it. It is our inspiration and aspiration that will guide us well into the future. It recognizes that we are a resource for parents and family members, including grandparents, siblings, relatives, friends and guardians who may have the responsibility of helping students successfully navigate the college years.
The Penn State Parents Council is comprised of a representative group of University Park parents and family members who:
- Make a commitment to volunteer our time and to share our knowledge and expertise across a range of initiatives and programs that support the mission and the goals of the Penn State Parents Program
- Act as an advisory group working in close collaboration with the Parents Program to help undergraduate parents, families and students foster a positive and lasting connection to Penn State
We achieve a sense of balance between interests, knowledge, expertise, experience and tenure through the thoughtful recruitment of new members, and we make Penn State feel like a close-knit, supportive community by:
- Welcoming a diverse group of parents and families into our University Park community
- Learning more about on- and off- campus life at the University, including its administration, academics, career development, student activities, personal enrichment and sports programs in order to become better informed so we, in turn, can serve as a well-informed and knowledgeable resource
- Helping all families and their students feel connected through the development of both on- and off-campus programs, services and outreach that address a wide range of needs
- Listening and extending a helping hand to parents and family members who are seeking information
- Sharing our knowledge and first-hand experiences through frequent communication via our website, newsletter, blogs and social media
- Connecting with University administration to become better informed, share our concerns and support their efforts
Why this mission statement works: It captures all aspects of who we are, what we do and our overall intention.
Welcoming. Sharing. Connecting.
Why this tagline works: In just three words our tagline adders up to our vision and mission and applies whether we are speaking to internal or external stakeholders. Our actions, whether at programs, events or meetings must always being welcoming. We are committed to sharing our knowledge, talents, experiences and resources with one another and with parents and families so that we can help them become better informed. And lastly, we are about making connections across the entire Penn State community to help enrich the Penn State experience for all parents and families.
Stay tuned for my follow-up blog, which will take a close look at our core values; the personality attributes that guide our behavior in all that we do as Penn State Parents Council members.