The Vital Role of the Parents Council
The Parents Council, established in 2006, has contributed nearly $42 million to the University in the past eight years, funding that has helped support a number of projects.
By Barbara Gutierrez
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 30, 2014) – When you think of giving to the University of Miami, often times the first thoughts focus on alumni and generous donors in the local community.
But there is another group who has made a significant impact on the U – parents of children who call the University home.
The Parents Council, established in 2006, has contributed nearly $42 million to the University in the past eight years, funding that has helped support a number of projects ranging from construction of the Student Activities Center to establishment of a doctorate program at the School of Education and Human Development to construction of the new Patricia and Harold Toppel Career Center.
The current chairs of the Parents Council – Debbie and Robert Lynch of Chagrin Falls, Ohio – are proud of the University and the role of the council.
The council’s mission is to involve parents of students in campus and regional activities, enrich student experiences, provide meaningful opportunities for parent involvement, and strengthen the financial foundation of the University. About 80 families are involved.
“I feel like we are ‘active advocates’ sharing our experience with anyone who will listen,” says Debbie Lynch, who works as a real estate broker. “We feel UM is a very special place, not just for the kids, but for our family.”
The Lynches currently have two children at the U, Dylan, a freshman, and Ryan, a junior, at the School of Business Administration.
Debbie and Robert Lynch were on campus last fall to welcome council members to Family Weekend in October.
The council meets throughout the year, but holds one of its largest gatherings during Family Weekend. The parents discuss plans for the upcoming year, get briefed on what’s new at the U and meet with administrators and faculty.
Last fall the group gathered inside a classroom in the School of Nursing and Health Studies and met with, among others, UM President Donna E. Shalala, Senior Vice Provost William Green, and School of Education Dean Isaac Prilleltensky. The group also toured a simulation lab at the School of Nursing.
The council's goal is to provide parents an overview of UM programs, curriculum, and mission. The parents take that information home with them and become advocates for the University in their own communities. For example, Debbie Lynch participates in career fairs in local high schools in her community. Some parents host events in their homes for incoming freshmen and their families.
Parents’ contributions also enrich the undergraduate experience through the Parents Fund, which helps pay for distinguished speakers on campus, such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and journalist Lisa Ling.
“These parents are true University ambassadors,” says Sergio M. Gonzalez, senior vice president for University Advancement and External Affairs.
“The Parents Council is a vital part of our efforts to enrich a student’s experience on campus, prepare incoming freshmen for college and help shape the future of the University through their giving,” he said.
Chelsea Wortham contributed to this report.