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Texas Parents, Texas Proud: Group Links Students, Families

Giving News

By Jamey Smith

Texas Parents hosting orientation event

Texas Parents hosts orientations and other events to help parents and families participate in their student's campus life.

A campus of some 50,000 students and 21,000 faculty and staff can be daunting, not just for University of Texas students but also their parents. Luckily there’s an organization that recognizes parents and families as an integral part of the UT community and encourages their participation in a number of ways.

Founded in 1948 as the Dads’ Association, today’s Texas Parents’ Association, or Texas Parents as it is widely known, reaches out to parents and families of students through a new parent guide each spring, family orientations in the summer, and special fall weekends. The association gives parents opportunities to meet administrators and faculty, socialize with other parents, and actively participate in their student’s life on campus — all of which strengthen Longhorn bonds.

“Nothing meant more to me than seeing my family taking an interest in my residence hall, my class schedule, and my campus,” says Liam O’Rourke, UT’s Student Government president.

Texas Parents' Family Weekend

More than 2,500 parents and other family members come to campus each fall for Texas Parents' Family Weekend.

Though it is a department within the Division of Student Affairs, Texas Parents receives negligible state support and relies primarily on members to fund its initiatives. A one-year membership costs $50; multiple years are available at a discounted rate. Membership dues are tax-deductible donations to the University and help support scholarships and student-led organizations, awards for outstanding teaching and research, and many other programs and events.

The biggest event is each fall’s Family Weekend, when more than 2,500 parents and family members participate in more than 70 events, including a welcome reception, barbecue, Tower and stadium tours, and special experiences in several of the colleges and schools. The weekend is an enjoyable way for families to sample their student’s campus life while learning more about UT.

Last year the association distributed grants totaling $25,000 to 30 student organizations chosen from 67 applications. Other undertakings that enrich the campus community are also eligible for funding. Recent examples include the Barbara Jordan statue, University Health Services’ Center for Students in Recovery, and Alpha Phi Alpha’s Hope Week, plus eclectic events like the Indian Students Association’s spring talent show. This year Texas Parents has increased its grant funding to $30,000.

Texas Parents BBQ event

The association receives negligible state support and relies on members to fund its initiatives.

For six decades Texas Parents has recognized individual achievers as well. Each year the association honors six students as finalists for the Outstanding Student Award. Two graduating seniors who demonstrate exceptional leadership, scholarship, character, and service are selected as the winners.

In addition, the Mike Wacker Award is given to extraordinary students who have overcome extreme adversity to achieve their academic goals. Staff members who directly impact students in an exemplary way are recognized with $1,000 Staff Merit Awards each fall. Funding for these and other awards is made possible through donations as well as regular member dues.

Ultimately, the Texas Parents’ Association exists to be a voice, a link, and a guide to parents and families of UT students. Its grants and awards alone would make it a significant force for good in the University community. Parents, however, might be most grateful for its e-newsletters and other communications that help them keep up with their student’s hectic campus life. As one UT mom recently put it, “Texas Parents is a resource and reminder of all the things your college student forgets to tell you.”

Learn more about Texas Parents.

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