Twenty-four families from eight states founded the Ole Miss Parents Council in 2012, and the organization's work and support has already enhanced five areas at the University of Mississippi through gifts totaling $25,000.
Initiatives receiving contributions from the Parents Council were the new Ole Miss Food Pantry, $5,000 in startup funds; the military student support specialist to support veterans enrolling in the university, $7,000 for furniture and technology; Southeastern Conference annual recruitment tour scheduled this spring in the Northeast, $2,700; Student Affairs marketing materials, $4,000; and a new motorcycle for the University Police Department, $6,300.
"We are very blessed to be a part of the Parents Council," said Karen Goodall of Gallatin, Tenn. "It has been a wonderful first year for (my husband) Bob and me. As a group, we were able to give funds to many worthy causes, including a motorcycle for the University Police Department. I encourage all Ole Miss parents to get involved with this organization. It is a great way to meet other parents, faculty and staff, as well as be able to contribute to such an outstanding university."
The purpose of the Parents Council is to encourage communication between the university and parents in order to improve the Ole Miss experience for students and their parents, said Elizabeth Milhous, director of parent development. Council members provide advice and guidance to the Division of Student Affairs and University Development on programs related to parents. The council members serve as liaisons between the university and parents as well as effective advocates for Ole Miss.
"Though these families are paying for their children's tuition, books, housing and other needs, and they give an additional $1,000 annual gift to serve on the Ole Miss Parents Council," Milhous said. "Council members have expressed confidence that their investments in Ole Miss will bring great returns and within it its first year, they have. The university community is deeply grateful for this wonderful support, input and involvement."
The Parents Council raised $25,000 within its first six months of existence and met with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc, who presented the Division of Student Affairs' list of initiatives and needs for possible funding. Council members were given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss each initiative.
The motorcycle, for example, will help UPD in its work across the Oxford campus. Ole Miss was ranked the safest university in the Southeastern Conference and in the top 10 nationally by CollegeSafe.com in 2012.
"While there were several worthwhile causes to choose from, the Parents Council was able to cordially collaborate to successfully accomplish our difficult task of selecting which initiatives to fund at this time," said Dr. Valerie Short of Ridgeland, Miss. "Indeed it was a pleasure to fully participate in such a momentous occasion."
The Parents Council's first gift to the university came from membership fees and other donations. This spring, the Parents Council will meet to distribute money raised from a Parents Campaign phonathon.
To learn more information about the Ole Miss Parents Council or to receive a brochure, contact Elizabeth Milhous, director of parent development, at email@example.com or 662-915-3181.