Parents’ gifts crucial to growth
Parents might not be immediately present while students are at college; however, parents are still more involved in the lives of students than sending care packages and paying tuition. Parents supply the momentum to keep the college striving for new heights.
Maintaining a strong relationship with parents is essential to provide a thriving learning environment, according to Assistant Vice President of Communications Ruth Wardwell.
“Parents are considered a key stakeholder of the college, and we try to anticipate and serve their communication needs. Focus on parents is a college-wide endeavor,” said Wardwell.
The dedicated staff at the development department is responsible for raising funds for the campus by promoting the college’s image and reaching out to parents.
“The major goals of the development office are to build a community of supporters (alumni, parents of students, friends, of the college, foundations and businesses) who support the college both in supporting Whitman generally and specifically supporting Whitman philanthropically,” said John Bogley, vice president for development and college relations.
Paying college tuition for a private liberal arts college like Whitman can be a heavy burden for parents without giving extra, but Bogley believes the key component to winning parents’ support is maintaining the high academic standing of the college.
“The foundational element of the programs is built upon Whitman delivering an outstanding educational experience,” said Bogley. “When that’s successful, many parents seek to get involved.”
Furthermore, keeping parents involved in campus events and sending out regular information helps parents feel a part of the Whitman campus.
“Family weekend is one such event that brings the campus to life for parents beyond their student’s experience,” said Bogley. “In addition, the Parents Newsletter, published regularly by the development office, keeps parents informed.”
Funding from parents alone makes up a huge total of Whitman’s income.
“Over 35 percent of Whitman parents make a gift to support students and faculty at Whitman,” said Annual Givings Program Officer Brenda Michels.
“Last year, parents made gifts totaling more than $1,000,000 out of our $18.58 million raised,” said Bogley.
Without parent funding, many programs offered by Whitman would not exist, including internships, student grants and research opportunities.
“Last year parents were asked to make gifts to support experiential learning opportunities for students, which resulted in additional stipends awarded through the Whitman Internship Program and the Perry Research Awards,” said Michels. “This year, the Parents Program will raise funds to support both existing and new programs in the Student Engagement Center.”
Right now Whitman is in the middle of hosting their largest fundraising campaign yet, called “Now is the Time.”
“Whitman is in the midst of its most ambitious fundraising campaign in institutional history,” said Bogley.
The campaign aims to raise funds in order to provide Whitman students with more global learning opportunities in a world that is continuously changing.
“It will ensure that our endowment can provide abundant scholarship and flexible funding for emerging priorities,” wrote President George Bridges in the campaign’s statement.
Parents play a key role in the academic success of the college. Because they want their children to have the best education possible, most parents are willing to get involved in fundraising and campus events.
One such way parents actively participate is through the Parents Leadership Committee, a program run by parents to help get other parents involved in their children’s college education.
“The Parents Leadership Committee meets twice a year and leads a fundraising effort aimed at getting many parents involved,” said Bogley.
Although tuition is costly, enthusiastic parents still do all that they can to help the college progress with new education opportunities and go out of their way to help fundraise.
“Last year, almost 40 percent of Whitman parents made gifts to Whitman beyond the regular costs they pay for their student’s education,” said Bogley.
Moreover, students’ parents are not only more involved than one might think, but they make up a large portion of Whitman’s funding. Without parents’ support, Whitman would not be where it is today as far as academics and national standing. It is only with the teamwork between parents and the administrative departments that work to promote the college’s image that Whitman is able to thrive.
“We are tremendously grateful for their generous support!” said Bogley.