Sacred Heart University Introduces New Parent Council

News Story: May 1, 2011

A new Parent Council hopes to broaden and enrich the Sacred Heart University experience for both parents and their children.

Launched in October 2010, the University felt it needed a stronger connection with parents, many of whom already support clubs and sports.  “The Council is a natural transition for parents, especially those that were involved in their children’s high school activities,” said Judite C. Vamvakides, the director of Annual Giving and coordinator of the new entity.

“It just makes sense to have a parent council,” she said, adding that students will benefit as well. “The council was created as a way to facilitate opportunities for parents to become involved and engaged in Sacred Heart and to enhance the quality of the college experience for their children and their children’s classmates.”

Vamvakides said that at an initial introductory meeting during Family Weekend in October, a great deal of interest was shown in the council’s goal to enhance a sense of community for parents. A letter-writing campaign to recruit more parents was also successful. More perspective and more vision for the council will be achieved with a greater variety of people involved, she said.

The council, which meets on campus every other month, is headed by Jonathon and Patricia Shepland of Garden City, NY. Additionally, several committees have been established to handle various tasks. The Admissions Committee is chaired by Lyn Tate; Career Development Committee, Henry and Despina Albulescu and Kim Chorba as co-chairs; Communication Committee, Annie Pavlovich, chair; and Parent and  Student Programming Committee, David Borts and Lucia Fontest-Borts and Cynthia Quintanal, co-chairs. 

The Sheplands, said Vamvakides, have “tremendous energy and commitment and are great leaders.”

Jonathon Shepland said the ultimate goals of the council are to raise awareness and get parents involved in the students’ college life and to be a fundraising arm. The fundraising target this year is $25,000, “but we hope to exceed it.”

“We will keep raising the bar each year and get more parents involved,” he said, adding that the council and the University appreciate and accept in-kind donations as well.

A future initiative, Vamvakides said, is launching a partnership with the Office of Career Development to have parents provide contacts through their places of business for students to obtain internships or jobs. “It is always helpful to have such relationships to help broaden the student experience,” she said.

The council also will work as a University agent in cultivating and stewarding parents for the purpose of making annual contributions to school priorities. Vamvakides noted that SHU needed to make people aware that, like most other universities, there is a gap between tuition and the cost to run the University, and that is made up through private donations.  The money raised benefits the Annual Fund.

The council has planned a reception at the May 15 Undergraduate Commencement for faculty and a parent-hosted student orientation in June.

The Sheplands’ three children attend Sacred Heart: one son will graduate in January, another son is a freshman and their daughter, a transfer student, will graduate in May.