by Mark Sikes
This article initially appeared on the W&M Alumni Magazine. You can read more here.
Enhancing the William & Mary student experience is the Parent & Family Council’s (PFC) fundamental goal. Since being established in the mid-1970s as the Parents Association Steering Committee, today’s PFC, which now includes 111 families of current undergraduates, has proven to be an integral partner to that end. Members are committed to presenting the university’s vision to people inside and outside the William & Mary community, fostering the education and enrichment of students and families, and supporting the institution with their time and talents, as well as financially. Through their contributions, PFC members make it possible to provide a richer array of programs and services to help students thrive.
Through its work with the Office of Parent & Family Programs and Parent and Family Giving, the PFC ensures family members feel connected to their student’s educational experience, and members actively encourage William & Mary families to engage with the university, both on- and off-campus. PFC events during Orientation and Family Weekend, for example, help connect families to each other, establishing an important network that increases the strength and visibility of the W&M community across the globe.
In addition to connecting William & Mary families with one another, the PFC also works closely with the Cohen Career Center staff to expand career development opportunities for students. These opportunities include hosting students as interns during summer and semester breaks, funding trips that highlight various employment industries, and providing on-campus programming that help students become more career-ready. Members of the PFC have even spent time on campus conducting mock interviews with students, giving them a chance to practice a critical skill in a low-risk setting and to receive helpful feedback from a member of the W&M parent community.
PFC families make an indelible mark on the student experience, and the Parents Fund, which was developed and is guided by the PFC, bolsters programming and services offered throughout the Division of Student Affairs. Parents Fund dollars support a wide range of activities each year, including cultural programming and major speakers, leadership development programs, wellness initiatives, tutoring scholarships for students who might not otherwise be able to afford a quality tutor, symposia showcasing undergraduate research, and service learning experiences, whether on global service trips or through local community engagement.
The PFC has also provided critical funding for one of the Counseling Center’s newest and most effective resources, ProtoCall. A new on-call service, ProtoCall connects students to licensed counselors at times when the center is closed overnight and on weekends. In its first year at William & Mary, this new service allowed nearly 500 callers to speak directly with mental health professionals after hours, giving students access to support whenever they might need it.
When the university announced its For the Bold campaign, the PFC saw an opportunity to expand its impact on the student experience, establishing an ambitious goal of $20 million by 2020. For 2016, the PFC raised well over $1 million for William & Mary, successfully reaching that goal and remaining on track to achieve the campaign goal as well.
William & Mary offers one of the best undergraduate educations of any university in the country. Providing students with an ever more exceptional experience remains the PFC’s driving vision, just as it has been since its inception nearly 40 years ago. Through the enhanced programs and services made possible by the dedicated members of the Council and by each and every family that supports the Parents Fund each year, William & Mary is even better able to be a university where students — and their families — flourish.
With additional reporting by Vayda Parrish.